Author: 800 CHAB NEWS/ Sask Ag and Food

In a world where environmental concerns and safety are increasingly central to our lives, it only makes sense to minimize risks of exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, especially on the farm.

Cameron Wilk is Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food's Provincial Pesticides Specialist.

"The most important thing, if you must carry pesticide products on your farm, is to use it up as soon as possible after you acquire these products. They are expensive, and there are security issues around others wanting to steal these things. It is always best to use them up promptly."

Proper storage of pesticides on the farm is an important aspect of risk management. The trend towards increasing farm size and more intensive farming systems has increased the need for on-farm pesticide storage facilities. Regardless of farm size, any time chemicals are stored on site, security risks increase, along with risks to environment and human safety. This increased risk underscores the need for properly designed and sited chemical storage facilities.

"On-farm pesticide storage may take on many forms," according to Wilk. "They can be newly constructed buildings or compartments, renovated existing buildings and containers. Your own budget will dictate what solution works best on your farm. As you undertake to set up a pesticide storage facility, ask yourself the following question: Is the storage structure to be used as a single-use facility? Utilizing the building for storage of other farm inputs, equipment storage or a maintenance facility can defeat the purpose of a pesticide storage facility. As a safety precaution, you should not store food, feed, fertilizer or livestock medication with pesticides."

Wilk then suggests a review of the following:

"Can you access running water near the site in the event of a spill? Water is the most suitable means for personal decontamination at or near the storage area. Can the container or the shed be locked? Do you have protective clothing, a first aid kit and a respirator appropriate to the pesticide stored? Is the equipment properly maintained and working? Can the flooring contain spills or leaks? Is there a floor drain or catch basin? And where does any material go that enters the floor drain? Can the floor be readily cleaned and decontaminated of pesticides? Is there adequate ventilation to prevent the accumulation of toxic or flammable vapours? Do you have absorbent material to soak up a spilled pesticide? That material may include lime, coarse clay, sand and sawdust. Can you prevent liquid products from freezing during winter months?"

If your farm is in a location protected by a municipal fire department, you are required to provide a list of pesticides stored and estimated quantities on hand to the chief of the fire department, Wilk says. This is to be done semi-annually and whenever significant changes in inventories occur.

You will also be required to post a "Danger - Stored Pesticide" sign printed in block letters. The letters should be five centimetres or more in height and posted on each entrance.

Siting pesticide storage facilities is also an important consideration. These facilities should be in a low-traffic area away from residences, watercourses, and water intakes and wells used for domestic purposes.

Should your on-farm pesticide storage facility stock more than 2,000 kilograms of pesticides, additional requirements will come into effect under The Hazardous Substances and Waste Dangerous Goods Regulations.

"Your containers, where possible, if they are under the 23-litre size, should be triple-rinsed and returned to a container recycling program offered by the pesticide industry. If you are moving towards larger totes and shuttles, the manufacturers have their own return programs where they charge a significant deposit on those types of containers and they are returned to the point of sale so the manufacturer of that particular product can deal with the recycling of that container.

"Those producers who have to store product on-farm tend to be very aware of the environmental responsibilities. Current trends are towards the totes and shuttles with closed systems, where the applicator or the farm operator does not have to touch the product. They are equipped with special valves and pumping systems to transfer the product from their containers to the spray tanks. It is a much safer system."

If you require technical information about pesticide storage and handling, contact the Saskatchewan Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-800-457-2377.

Keep in mind that producers who have completed an Environmental Farm Plan through the Provincial Council of Agriculture and Diversification Boards (PCAB) can apply to the Canada Saskatchewan Farm Stewardship Program (CSFSP) for assistance in improving on-farm storage of pesticides. The CSFSP provides 30 per cent cost-shared funding up to a maximum of $15,000 for improved on-farm storage and handling of agricultural products. The program is restricted to non-commercial storage facilities only.

For further information about Saskatchewan's Environmental Farm Planning Program, contact your local PCAB facilitator listed on the PCAB website at www.saskpcab.com.

For further information about the CSFSP, contact Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Client Service Centre at 1-800-667-8567.