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By Staff | Feb 13, 2009

DES MOINES Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey this week is encouraging farmers to use caution when handling bulk fertilizers and highlighting the regulations farmers must follow when selling fertilizer or making purchases.

“The dramatic volatility seen in fertilizer prices since last year has caused farmers and brokers to look at new suppliers and consider purchasing bulk fertilizer,” Northey said. “It’s vital that producers considering these options understand the regulations and are comply with Iowa’s applicable laws.”

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship licenses fertilizer dealers and inspect products to help protect customers and the environment. There are several laws and rules a farmer, broker, and dealer must comply with when handling different forms of fertilizer.

Law requires an Iowa commercial fertilizer license for anyone that sells, offers for sale or distributes fertilizer or soil conditioners in the state and must pay tonnage fees and ground water fees.

A farmer purchasing fertilizer for personal use does not need a commercial license, but they must purchase from a dealer with an Iowa license. Iowa farmers cannot sell fertilizer without a license.

“No matter the source or location, anyone selling fertilizer must maintain an Iowa license,” Northey added.

Farmers must also follow all laws and rules regarding secondary containment, loading and unloading of liquid and non-liquid bulk fertilizers and placement restrictions of anhydrous ammonia storage locations.

As a result, the following regulations apply:

Bulk dry fertilizers

  • Fertilizers can be offloaded directly onto the applicator in the field of application.
  • Bulk dry fertilizers must be stored in a totally enclosed building; loading of the fertilizer into the applicator or a tender truck must take place within the building.
  • If the loading/unloading of dry fertilizer does not take place in one of the locations listed above, then an approved load pad is required that meets the specifications of the Iowa Administrative code 21-44.57(2).

Liquid fertilizers

  • Storage of volumes greater than 5000 gal must have secondary containment. A container or a combination of containers with a volume of 5000 gal or less is exempt
  • Loading and unloading pads are required for those facilities with secondary containment.
  • All secondary containment and loading/unloading pads must have plans drawn by a registered engineer that are in compliance with Iowa Administrative Code 21-44.57(1) and submitted to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Anhydrous ammonia

  • Anhydrous Ammonia storage tanks must be approved by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship before being brought into the state.
  • A department inspector must approve the site of the storage container before any application can take place.
  • A proposed Anhydrous Ammonia storage site must also be approved by the local jurisdiction (city or county) before construction.
  • Site plans, plumbing diagram, pier diagrams and documentation of local approval must be submitted with an application and the Department must approve it before construction can begin.
  • Nurse tanks must also comply with all laws and regulations.
  • Permanent anhydrous ammonia storage sites must be inspected annually by department inspectors.

“If you are considering adding on-farm storage of fertilizer or soil conditioner please contact the department for more information and to make sure you are following all the applicable regulations,” Northey said.

For more information from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Feed and Fertilizer Bureau contact Terry Jensen at (515) 281-8599.

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By Staff | Feb 13, 2009

With the crop out of the fields and snow in the air, farmers and Iowa State University Extension are turning their focus to winter training sessions.

ISU Extension provides the educational component required to become state-certified manure and pesticide applicators.

“The pesticide applicator trainings that start showing up on ISU Extension calendars in December are the result of collaboration between Extension and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship,” said Gerald Miller, director of ISU Extension to agriculture and natural resources. “The sessions are planned centrally and delivered by ISU Extension specialists at locations convenient to the applicators.”

Certified private pesticide applicators, people who apply a restricted-use pesticide in the production of an agricultural commodity on land they manage, must meet educational requirements to maintain their certification.

Extension field agronomists provide training in all of Iowa’s counties. In 2007, Extension held 290 private pesticide continuing instructional courses, training more than 17,000 applicators.

Commercial pesticide applicators, people who enter into contracts or agreements to receive payment for applying a pesticide or who are employed by such an entity, meet their certification educational requirements by attending video conferences and Web casts that feature campus-based ISU Extension specialists.

Last year, ISU Extension trained nearly 8,000 commercial applicators.

To learn more about private pesticide training opportunities, contact an ISU Extension county office or visit the ISU Extension calendar and select the appropriate pesticide applicator training category.

The Pest Management and the Environment Web site lists commercial applicator training sessions. Information about pesticide testing is available at the IDALS site.

“Farmers take very seriously their responsibility to protect Iowa’s soil and water and Extension’s effort to make sure applicators have the most up-to-date information is vital,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. “The training materials clearly outline the current regulations that are in place to promote safety, environmental protection and efficient and appropriate use of pesticides.”

As a direct result of educational material presented during trainings, Iowa applicators know, and are practicing, proper recycling of used pesticide containers. In the state that ranks fourth in the number of pounds of empty containers, proper handling of material that would otherwise be considered hazardous waste has tremendous rewards.

“We are also seeing a better use of pesticides – atrazine is a great example,” said Miller. “We are seeing changes in use patterns of atrazine as a result of targeted training.

“At one time, there were high instances of residual atrazine in ground and surface waters because of heavy usage. In trainings, we talked about geographic considerations, where to and where not to apply atrazine, and the effectiveness of lower application rates.

“We now have about the same amount being applied in Iowa, but at lower rates and in more appropriate geographic areas – and the result is less evidence of residual atrazine in the environment.”

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By Staff | Feb 13, 2009

AMES – Agriculture continues as the most deadly industry in the United States based on the number of deaths per 100,000 workers. Agriculture’s death rate is eight times higher than the average of all the industries in the U.S.

The leading causes of these agricultural fatalities are tractor overturns, runovers and collisions. The tragedy is that the majority of these agricultural fatalities are preventable.

“More than one-third of all agricultural fatalities reported in Iowa involved a farm tractor,” said Charles Schwab, Iowa State University Extension safety specialist. “These are Iowans who lost their lives while driving, riding or working around a tractor, which is significant considering the addition of protective equipment or enforcement of the simple ‘no rider’ rule would have prevented a majority of these deaths.”

Schwab monitors farm-related injuries from news reports and captures. Of the 16 tractor deaths recorded in 2006, eight happened when the tractor overturned; two were run over by a tractor; six were the result of traffic collisions, train collisions or miscellaneous causes.

Schwab speculates that most people believe that only careless operators are killed. But the reality, he said, is that these victims were otherwise safe and experienced operators, but who made the choice of operating a tractor without rollover protections structures, or ROPS, or offering a ride to a child.

Schwab and other safety educators maintain that many tractor-related deaths can be prevented. ROPS keep the tractor operator in a safe area if the tractor overturns. It’s estimated that more than half of the approximate 4.7 million tractors in the U.S. are missing ROPS safety protection.

Tractors built since 1985 have ROPS as part of their design, but that doesn’t solve the problem of older tractors, he added. Choosing to operate a tractor without ROPS is gambling with your life.

“Tractor rides for kids have always been a potentially deadly activity on a farm,” Schwab said. “These innocent like scenes of a child riding on the tractor with a parent or grandparent are extremely dangerous situations that can take a child’s life in just a moment and destroy families’ dreams.”

“Using rollover protection structures can go a long ways toward reducing fatalities,” Schwab said. “This year’s National Farm Safety Week theme, ‘it’s easier to bury a tradition than a child’ guides us to improve tractor safety by not allowing extra riders and upgrading the safety equipment like ROPS on older tractors.”

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By Staff | Feb 13, 2009

Young farmers are at high risk of noise-induced hearing loss yet are often unaware of it until the damage has already been done.

Research shows that farmers, mechanics and carpenters have significantly higher rates of hearing loss than the general population. One study in Wisconsin found that approximately one-quarter of the male farmers surveyed experienced hearing-related communication difficulties by the age of 30.

And a University of Iowa study found that hearing loss puts farmers at increased risk of being injured on the job.

Despite these facts, many young farmers believe that hearing loss will not affect them until they are much older. Or, they think that a hearing aid will undo any damage that has been done. Unfortunately, this is not true. A good hearing aid can help amplify sounds, but will not fully restore lost hearing.

Here are some tips on how young farmers can reduce their risk of noise-induced hearing loss:

  • Understand how hearing loss can occur. Prolonged and frequent exposure to noise levels above 85 decibels, both on and off the farm, can result in permanent hearing loss. If you need to raise your voice to be heard an arms length away, the noise is probably loud enough to damage your hearing.

Squealing pigs, tractors, combines, grain dryers, chain saws and other farm equipment often produce noise levels above 85 decibels.

  • Know the early signs of hearing loss. One early sign is “tinnitus,” which is a ringing, hissing, roaring, whistling, chirping or clicking sound in the ears.
  • Limit exposure to loud noises. When operating tractors or other farm equipment, keep cab doors and windows shut.
  • Use hearing protection. Hearing protectors such as earplugs and protective earmuffs come in hundreds of different styles. Use hearing protection at all times you are near loud noises. Keep it in a convenient location, such as in your pockets or on the steering wheel of your tractor.

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