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Best Management Practices - Pesticide Storage & Load/Mix Areas

Often applicators, producers, and commercial operators seek assistance in building or locating a pesticide storage building. This decision sometimes includes the addition of a mixing and loading area. The first idea that comes to most people's minds is to build something out of locally available building supplies. Buildings are usually located in a convenient area near equipment and road access. They are also located near a water source. Assessing the location has to be done carefully. Flood plains, soil type, permeability, slope, and distance from sensitive areas all enter into assessing a location.

We are often asked for recommendations on building pesticide storage and mixing/loading structures. We do not recommend building your own structure. We have found, over the years, structures of this sort are highly prone to failure in one form or another. At the very least they become a liability for the owner. We do recommend prefabricated buildings that are certified, approved, or complaint with federal and state building codes, insurance standards (FM Global), and fire safety standards (National Fire Prevention Association - NFPA). Many of the companies selling these structures offer used and new products. Many cite other approvals (EPA, OSHA, etc.). In most cases, these products are an asset rather than a long-term liability if located, anchored, and maintained according to the manufacturer. Most local building supply companies do not sell products that will match the standards and technology built into these specialized structures. 

Here is a logical order of decision-making for anyone seeking to install a building or containment facility. We have included recommendations published by other institutions, commercial, and independent sources. Many of the commercial sources also sell products that will solve your needs for storage and mix/load structures. We do not endorse, recommend, or discriminate against other sources in providing this information.

1) Do you need to store pesticides and fertilizers? Evaluating your needs is a first step in solving your storage and pesticide handling tasks. If you can reduce or find an alternate solution your situation will be drastically improved.
  • Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce pesticide storage
    • Arrange for periodic delivery of product based on the area to be treated at the time.
    • Choose ready-to-use products or products mixed in a returnable-refillable container to manage the job.
    • Select low-volume formulations. Many are in very small containers, yet their active ingredients can treat hundreds of acres. 
    • Choose mini-bulk containers. Many come in returnable-refillable containers with a pump to transfer the concentrate to your spray tank for mixing. 
    • Hire a custom applicator to do the work rather than store product.
    • Manage site inventory based on the following:
      • Add a containment system or berm to contain leaks and spills
      • Lock pesticides in a legal storage area that meets regulations
      • Keep chemicals cool in the summer and don’t let them freeze in the winter
      • Manage chemical inventory to minimize on-site storage
      • Use up open product containers if possible
      • Return unopened product containers to vendor at the end of the season
      • Work with your crop protection consultant to help manage inventory
2) How much space will you need to store your agricultural chemicals?
  • BMPs
    • Store only what you can use in one growing season.
    • Cut the amount of storage by applying the BMPs listed above.
    • If you are able to reduce the amount stored, can the rest be stored in a small (specialty) chemical storage unit (cabinet or small structure)?
3) Where should I locate a storage or pesticide handling area?
  • BMPs:
    • Assess your location carefully. Pay attention to the following:
      • Location should be downwind from sensitive areas (people, animals, habitats, schools, hospitals, homes, businesses, sensitive crops and plants, apiaries, etc.)
      • Location should allow access to emergency and load bearing vehicles. In the event of a fire can a fire truck reach the facility? Is there a water source? Can product be delivered to your location?
      • Location should be outside the 100-year floodplain -- These ratings are affected by changes in the runoff from developing areas, streamflow, etc. Air on the side of caution when considering this factor.
4) Building versus buying a pesticide storage or handling structure?
5) Are you considering a mix/load pad adjacent to your storage area?
6) Is this pad properly located?