Demand for urea has increased substantially ahead of the 2023 season and Hutchinsons is reminding growers to ensure that they store and handle it correctly.
Fertiliser and crop nutrition specialist Rob Jewers says that farmers must be careful to abide by the strict regulations that govern the transportation and storage of all fertilisers.
Urea is relatively inert compared to ammonium nitrate products, but Mr Jewers warns that regulations prohibit the two from being transported or stored together. Failing to follow these rules could see farmers failing ACCS or Red Tractor inspections, as well as increasing the risk of incidents.
“Urea has been more competitively priced than ammonium nitrate this year, by quite some margin. One kilo of AN nitrogen was priced at around £2.60 at the end of September, whereas a kilo of urea nitrogen worked out to be about £1.90, so we have seen more demand for it.
“There may well be farmers who haven’t bought urea before or haven’t used it for a long time, that perhaps aren’t aware the two [AN and urea] shouldn’t be stored together. It is something to think about, otherwise, you might be in for a shock if there’s an ACCS inspection.”
They cannot be transported or stored together because urea is an organic material, which acts as a carbon course. “So, if there was an incident with the ammonium nitrate, such as fire, the urea would provide an additional fuel source,” Mr Jewers explained.
The two products cannot be put in the same vehicle and should be stored in separate buildings. If they have to be stored in the same shed, there should be a gap of at least 5m.
Other guidelines include:
- Store fertiliser in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place, out of direct sunlight
- Preferably store it out of public view in a secure (lockable) shed
- Ensure correct signage is in place on buildings
- Do not store fertiliser alongside other potential fuel sources (e.g. hay, straw, diesel, wooden pallets, etc)
- Ensure the surface is level and free from any objects that could puncture bags
- Do not store bags more than three high
- Leave at least 1-2m between fertiliser bags and any parked machinery
- Avoid using potential sources of ignition near fertiliser (e.g. naked flames, smoking, welding/ grinders)
- Follow the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) Fertiliser Security Five Point Plan.
Mr Jewers noted that urea fertiliser can be more prone to drawing moisture than AN, but that this is generally prevented by storing it correctly. Urea is also bulkier than AN, which should be factored in when assessing storage.
Five-point plan for the storage and security of fertilisers
- Wherever possible use a Fertiliser Industry Assurance Scheme (FIAS) approved supplier
- Wherever possible keep in a secure area, such as a building, or sheeted away from public view
- Carry out regular stock checks and report any loss to the police immediately (call 101)
- Avoid leaving fertiliser in a field overnight – never leave fertiliser in a field for a long period of time
- Remember it is illegal to sell ammonium nitrate without the correct documentation.