It is important to ensure your fertiliser is always safely stored and protected, and it has never been more important given current fertiliser shortages, delivery delays and price rises – but, what is the best way to store fertiliser?
This article discusses how to safely store fertiliser, the best way to store different types of fertiliser and answers some of the most common questions about fertiliser storage, including:
- Are there any regulations for fertiliser storage on farms?
- Are there any restrictions on storing fertiliser in bulk?
- How long can I store fertiliser for? Can I use fertiliser from last year?
- How do I store fertiliser in a shed?
- How do I store granular fertiliser?
- How do I store liquid fertiliser?
Keep reading to find out all you need to know about fertiliser storage on-farm, fertiliser storage shed designs and more!
Safe Fertiliser Storage
Before we take an in-depth look into the best way to store different types of fertilisers, let’s cover the basics of storing fertiliser safely.
When it comes to safe fertiliser storage, there are a few key things to keep in mind:
- Always follow manufacturer’s instructions and storage information on product labels when storing fertiliser.
- Ensure staff members are trained in handling and storing fertiliser safely such as storage heights, particularly for bagged fertiliser. It is also important that they understand the different physical properties of different fertilisers so that incompatible fertilisers are not stored in the same area.
- Fertilisers should be stored in a cool, dry and well-ventilated area to prevent them from deteriorating or becoming unstable. Temperatures between 5°C and 30°C are generally considered to be safest as some fertilisers are sensitive to high temperatures. Ventilation helps reduce the temperature and fumes in the storage area. It is also important that the storage environment is dry, as moisture can affect granular fertiliser, making it clumpy and as a result it may not evenly spread.
- Implement good stock management practices so that the older fertiliser is used first – first-in, first-out.
- Keep any combustible materials away from your fertiliser storage area. The storage area should also be kept clean and free of dust and dirt.
What Is The Best Way To Store Fertiliser? How To Store Different Types Of Fertiliser
The best way to store fertiliser does depend on the type of fertiliser you are storing; however, an enclosed, lock-up fertiliser shed is usually considered to be best practice for on-farm storage.
There are many advantages of a fertiliser shed, for example, a shed not only protects fertiliser from weather damage and direct sunlight, a lock-up shed is also a theft deterrent! And, with fertiliser shortages and ensuing price rises, security is becoming increasingly important.
It is also important to consider the different storage requirements for granular fertiliser and liquid fertiliser.
What is the best way to store granular fertiliser?
Granular fertiliser can be stored in a shed with concrete panel walls (to protect the cladding from corrosion) and concrete panel walls for segregation of different fertiliser types. Make sure the fertiliser is evenly spread out to help avoid ‘hot spots’ which can lead to spontaneous combustion.
An advantage of a fertiliser shed is that once you have bought and stored your fertiliser you can avoid price rises or delivery delays. Or, if your storage requirements change it can easily be used to store produce such as grain.
For smaller amounts of granular fertiliser, it may not be worth building a dedicated fertiliser storage shed. Instead, one option is to include concrete panels in one or two bays of a machinery shed. Remember to keep fertiliser and the machinery or produce stored in the shed separated to avoid fires and contamination – it would also pay to check that your insurance policy allows co-storing.
What is the best way to store liquid fertiliser?
A storage shed also works well for storing shuttles of liquid fertiliser. Pallet racking is recommended in this instance to avoid double stacking of shuttles, reducing the risk of damaged shuttles, spills and contamination. The shed should also have a concrete floor so that a high level of hygiene can be maintained and good ventilation through the shed is also a must-have – we discuss ways this can be achieved further on in this article. If you are storing bulk amounts of liquid fertiliser though, a storage tank may be the better option.
Are there any regulations for fertiliser storage on farms? Are there any restrictions on storing fertiliser in bulk?
In Victoria there are a number of regulations to be aware of when it comes to storing dangerous goods such as fertilisers and chemicals, including:
- The Storage and Handling of Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Australian Standard 2507-1998)
- The Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2022
- The Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) (Fertilisers) Regulations 2015
As we outline in our article, How To Safely Store Chemicals, if you store under 1000 kilograms or 1000 litres of chemicals on-farm, this is classified as ‘Minor Storage’ as per the Australian Standard AS2507 – 1998.
Quantities of chemical greater than 1000 kilograms or 1000 litres are required to comply with the storage requirements of the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 and Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling Regulations 2012).
How long can I store fertiliser for? Can I use fertiliser from last year?
The shelf-life of fertilisers differ from fertiliser to fertiliser and depend on their physical properties – and how well it has been stored! For example, some liquid fertilisers can be safely stored for 8 – 10 years whereas some granular fertilisers like urea can have a much shorter shelf life of around 6 – 12 months from manufacture date.
The shelf-life of fertiliser will be decreased if it is stored poorly or incorrectly. For ways to improve the shelf-life of your fertiliser, check out this article from MinTech – How To Improve Fertilizer Shelf-Life.
Fertiliser Storage Shed Design Ideas
Here are some design ideas for fertiliser sheds, some of which we have already briefly mentioned.
- Pallet racking
Pallet racking is a safe and efficient use of storage space. Pallet racking allows you to make use of the vertical space in your storage shed while also helping to avoid double stacking fertiliser shuttles or bags which is a safety issue.
Remember, liquid chemicals or fertilisers should not be stored above granular fertilisers due to the risk of spills, contaminated fertiliser and reactions such as spontaneous combustion.
- Concrete slab
A concrete slab helps prevent contamination and makes it easier to quickly clean up any spills. Installing a concrete slab may also be a requirement, for example a chemical shed is required to have a bunded floor slab which can hold 25% of the total storage volume or 110% volume of the largest container, whichever is the greatest.
We can arrange the concrete slab for your shed project, just make mention of this to our building consultants and they will ensure it is included in the project quotation.
Watch the video below to learn more about concrete slabs and how much they cost.
- Ventilation options
Ventilation is essential when it comes to fertiliser storage to reduce fumes and the risk of fire. There are several ways you can ensure good ventilation in a fertiliser shed such as a ridge vent in the roof or ‘whirly birds’ in the roof. Sliding doors for access can also help the airflow through the shed.
If you aren’t sure what option would best for your shed, please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions – our building consultants would be happy to help!
- Concrete walls
Our fertiliser shed designs for bulk granular fertiliser storage include concrete panel walls so that the shed cladding isn’t corroded by the fertiliser. These concrete panels can also be used to separate bays if segregation is a requirement for your shed.
Like concrete slabs, the team at Action Steel can also arrange the supply and install of the concrete panels for your fertiliser shed.
For more information on fertiliser sheds and design options and recommendations, talk to one of our building consultants – and remember to store your fertiliser as per the relevant regulations.
We hope this article on the best way to store fertiliser has helped you with your fertiliser storage plans. For more articles like this, or to access our latest videos and brochures, check out our Learning Hub.