Fertiliser management ensures that there are sufficient nutrients in the soil based on the nutritional requirements of the planted crop. Fertiliser management has several benefits, such as reducing the costs of farm inputs and ensuring that there is no chemical imbalance in the soil.
Another importance of fertiliser management Is that you can protect yourself from economic losses due to a chemical imbalance in the soil. The financial losses increase when the soil quality degrades, forcing you to use more fertiliser than the norm.
It is also important to mention that fertiliser management helps protect groundwater from contamination.
What Are Fertilisers?
A fertiliser is any organic or inorganic material that adds one or more chemical elements to the soil. Fertilisers are primarily used to add nutrients to the soil in the agricultural sector. Most fertilisers contain three essential nutrients; nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.
Excess fertiliser can enter water sources without proper fertiliser management practices. This can negatively impact aquatic ecosystems and the health of those who drink the water.
Fertiliser Storage and Handling
One central aspect of fertiliser management is storage and handling. Proper storage and handling reduce the chances of Fire and fertiliser contaminating water sources. So how should you store and handle fertiliser?
- Ensure that the fertiliser is stored separately from other chemicals to avoid contamination
- Have a sign on the storage building indicating that the fertiliser is stored inside. This is important, especially when there is a fire, as it notifies firefighters and other volunteers of potential hazards.
- Never store fertiliser near or within a facility with an abandoned well or water source.
- Ensure that the storage area is easily accessible and that the fertiliser can quickly be removed during an emergency.
- The storage facility should always be locked and only accessed by essential personnel.
- If the fertiliser is stored in small containers, the containers should have a lip to keep them from sliding off.
- The farmer should always ensure that proper record-keeping is done.
If proper storage and handling procedures are not followed, excess nitrate concentration can contaminate water sources causing health problems. Some fertilisers can cause algae blooms that reduce the water quality.
Apart from following proper storage and handling protocols, the best way to minimise these problems is by regularly attending environmental awareness campaigns. Farm employees should also participate in this training.
Fertiliser Management to Eliminate Hazards
If you are dealing with large amounts of fertiliser, you should give extra thought to the storage location. If you have large quantities of fertiliser stored, contamination risks increase tenfold. The risk can range from leakages resulting from broken and damaged containers. There is also the risk of fire due to oxidising compounds such as nitrates.
When deciding on a storage location, ensure that the area protects the fertiliser from flooding and extreme heat. In addition, the storage location should not contain greenhouse chemicals apart from fertiliser.
The number one defence for every farmer against spillage is their container. Fertilisers should always be stored in their original containers. If the fertiliser is stored in paper bags, ensure the paper bags are always sealed.
If the container is damaged, repackage the fertiliser and clearly label the package. If there are any spills from the floor, they should be cleaned up immediately and the cleaning materials discarded as advised by your local environmental health authority.
To avoid contamination in case of leakage, ensure the warehouse is adequately lit. The lighting
Should allow all parts of the warehouse to be viewable.
Large amounts of fertiliser such as ammonia can create a hazardous environment if safety measures are not adhered to. When storing large amounts of fertiliser, ensure a fire detection system and an alarm system are installed. The storage area should also have a fire extinguisher that is easily accessible.
One crucial point is that flammable materials should not be stored with oxidisers. In addition, it is essential to always notify the fire department in your County of the current inventory levels at least every six months.
Monitoring and Security
Fire inspectors should always inspect the storage facility every 30 days for corrosion and signs of leakage. The inspector should also examine the ventilation system to ensure it is working correctly. If a fault is detected, the farmer should implement corrective measures immediately.
Inventory and Record-Keeping
Proper record-keeping helps prevent the accumulation of excess fertiliser that might become hazardous. Also, proper record-keeping will help firefighters know the amount of fertiliser in the warehouse in case of fire.