Even if you’re working on a completely organic farm, you’re using chemicals in and around your fields. It’s probably possible to operate without any hazardous chemicals of any kind, but it’s a difficult task in what is already a difficult line of work.
You don’t want chemicals mixing with substances that need to stay separate like medicine and food. You could store farm chemicals in a distinct part of an outbuilding like a pole barn, or they could be in a different location — and that’s what experts recommend, for both health and security reasons (chemicals could be stolen or vandalized if they’re not locked away).
There are four basic steps to building a permanent storage unit for farm chemicals.
Think about all the chemicals you use throughout the year: pesticides, herbicides, cleaning solutions, fuel, oil and grease, and whatever else you need to keep your farm running.
Your storage area needs to be large enough to hold them all.
You might not be able to dispose of old or unusable chemicals right away, so you’ll need a place to store them as well.
Put your chemical storage unit somewhere safe and secure: where it’s less likely to be flooded or catch on fire.
A leak or fire can release hazardous fumes or substances.
But it also could damage storage containers, ruin labels and safety information, and make materials an expensive and unusable mess.
The structure needs to be close enough to access but far enough away that if a leak or fire does happen, it’s less likely to spread to any other structures on your farm.
Metal or plastic is probably best for the roof and walls, again to reduce the risk of fire or water damage.
Use similar building materials inside the structure — chemicals from a leaky container could be absorbed into wooden walls or shelves but can be cleaned off metal or plastic.
Store each substance separately, in additional bags, crates, or catch trays to further protect them.
Chemicals need to be stored within a certain temperature range.
You may even have to consider things like lighting and humidity to make sure your chemicals are available for use on the farm and aren’t at risk of exploding or leaking.
Review the reference materials for your chemicals to see the best way to store them.
You may not want to include windows or screens in the storage unit, but appropriate ventilation is a necessity.
Don’t forget a solid door that closes firmly, and a lock!
The chemicals you use on your farm are there to do a job, and they can’t do that job if they’re damaged, drained, or missing.
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