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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Preventing accidental releases
of anhydrous ammonia is a high priority for the
Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) and
Illinois agricultural organizations.  These accidents
can not only result in the loss of valuable nitrogen
fertilizer, but also cause injury to farmers and
emergency responders.

“The IDOA investigates all agricultural-related
anhydrous ammonia incidents,” Jerry Kirbach, bureau
chief of Ag Products Inspection, said.  “Our
investigation of incidents over the last three years
shows that improper management of ammonia hoses,
failure to maintain safety devices on tool bars and
not properly securing the tanks during highway and
field transportation are among the leading causes of

The department and Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical
Association (IFCA) jointly provide training programs
for employees of retail anhydrous ammonia facilities,
who are required to be trained every three years.
But to address the critical need to improve ammonia
safety when farmers are handling the product, the
department, IFCA, Illinois Corn Growers Association
(ICGA) and Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) collaborated to
develop a detailed web- based training program for

IFCA submitted a grant to the newly formed Nutrient
Research and Education Council (NREC) to fund the
program.  IFCA and IDOA staff then developed the
program content, which features video and animation
of actual ammonia accidents that occurred in Illinois
and detailed instructions on how they could have been
prevented.  The program’s five training modules cover
properties of ammonia, personal protective equipment,
transportation of ammonia to and from the field, the
safe hook-up of ammonia tanks in the field and
emergency response and first aid procedures.  After
completing the training, farmers can take a knowledge
assessment to determine their understanding of the
material and print a certificate of completion for
their records.

“In the past we have tried various venues to get
important information to farmers about ammonia
safety, including pamphlets, seminars, an awareness
video and checklists for fertilizer dealers to share
with farmers,” Kevin Runkle, Manager of Regulatory
Services for IFCA, said.  “Unfortunately, these
efforts have been insufficient to convey the
importance of specific preventative measures that
must be understood and followed each time a farmer
uses anhydrous ammonia.  This web-based program is
unique in its sophistication and detail.  It allows
the farmer to log in and then return to the program
at any time to pick up where he left off or to go
back and review the safety modules.”

Thanks to funding from NREC, the program is free to
farmers or anyone who wants to improve their
knowledge of ammonia safety.

“When not handled properly, anhydrous ammonia can
cause serious injury and impact the environment,”
Agriculture Director Bob Flider said.  “I encourage
farmers who apply their own ammonia to use the
program, take the knowledge assessment and
self-certify that they are trained to safely handle
this product.”

The program can be accessed at the following
websites; specific questions about the program or its
features should be directed to IFCA.
Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association:
Illinois Corn Growers Association:
Illinois Farm Bureau:
Illinois Department of Agriculture:


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