"The IDOA investigates all agricultural-related anhydrous
ammonia incidents," said Jerry Kirbach, the department's bureau
chief for ag products inspection. "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 Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Illinois
Fertilizer and Chemical Association jointly provide training
programs for employees of retail anhydrous ammonia facilities,
who are required to be trained every three years.
To address the critical need to improve ammonia safety when
farmers themselves are handling the product, the Illinois
Department of Agriculture, Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical
Association, Illinois Corn Growers Association, and Illinois
Farm Bureau collaborated to develop a detailed Web-based
training program for farmers.
The Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association submitted a
grant to the newly formed Nutrient Research and Education
Council to fund the program. Staff from the Illinois Fertilizer
and Chemical Association and the Department of Agriculture 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 hookup 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," said Kevin Runkle,
manager of regulatory services for the Illinois Fertilizer and
Chemical Association. "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."
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Thanks to funding from the Nutrient Research and Education Council,
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," said Agriculture Director Bob
Flider. "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."
Specific questions about the program or its features should be
directed to the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association.
The program can be accessed at the
Department of Agriculture
file received from the
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]