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Archive for the ‘fertilizer’ Category

>Don’t Leave Fertilizers Lying Around

>The following article is from the Samuel Nobel Foundation web site. The advice is important for everyone, not just farmers, especially in this drug-filled, terrorist prone society in which we live.

by Eddie Funderburg

I recently attended a meeting where fertilizer security was one of the chief topics. I had heard most of the information before in bits and pieces, but having it presented all at once in an organized fashion got me thinking more about its importance. There are a lot of people in our area who are looking to get fertilizers for reasons other than increasing crop yield.

As most of you know, there are two main uses for stolen fertilizer: explosives and drugs. These are vitally important topics in our world today, and it is essential that we do all we can to make it difficult for thieves to misuse fertilizer.

It is widely known that ammonium nitrate can make a powerful explosive if mixed, handled and stored in certain ways. It is used legally for a number of legitimate purposes, such as construction. The problems arise when someone wants to use ammonium nitrate to make explosives for sinister purposes.

Bulk storage of ammonium nitrate.
Photo, Courtesy of Captain Tony Trudell,
Ardmore, Okla. Police Dept.

It is not as well known that urea also can be used to make a very powerful explosive. Using urea to make explosives results in a very unstable compound — something that is more powerful and less stable than nitroglycerine.

The bottom line is that if you store ammonium nitrate or urea on the farm, make sure they are placed in a secure area that can be easily monitored by you. Do not put them in old buildings far away from areas you frequently visit. Report any suspicious people around the fertilizer area to local law enforcement agencies.

Possibly the most bizarre thing that has occurred in my career as a fertilizer expert is the recent use of common fertilizers to manufacture illegal drugs, namely methamphetamine. The most commonly-used fertilizer in the drug manufacturing process is anhydrous ammonia, but a drug manufacturer who’s a particularly good chemist can also use urea, ammonium nitrate, liquid UAN solutions and other sources of nitrogen. My opinion is that someone who has such a sophisticated knowledge of chemistry could get a productive job and make good money legally.

Anhydrous farm tank being filled.
Photo, Courtesy of Captain Tony Trudell,
Ardmore, Okla. Police Dept.

Drug manufacturers are especially desperate to obtain anhydrous ammonia since it is the easiest fertilizer source to use in making the drug. They will stoop to incredible feats of stupidity to obtain the material.

For those not familiar with anhydrous ammonia, it is a liquid when stored in strong steel tanks at very high pressure and very low temperatures. When exposed to normal temperatures and pressures, it becomes a gas. This gas is very damaging to the eyes and lungs, and is quite unpleasant to any other exposed skin it touches.

When farmers apply anhydrous ammonia, they inject it directly from the storage tank deep into the soil through specially-designed knives and hoses. This insures that the farmer does not have to handle it. In the drug manufacturers’ zeal to obtain anhydrous ammonia, they will try to store the material in glass jars, thermos jugs, ice chests and soft drink bottles. Keep in mind that handling anhydrous ammonia in any way other than a closed system with strong steel tanks is extremely dangerous. Unfortunately, thieves will often leave the valve open and release large amounts of ammonia into the air even though they stole only a small amount. This can be dangerous to innocent people living in the area.

While the law of natural selection should eventually take care of this problem, there are things you can do to help law enforcement. The Fertilizer Institute has published a list of steps for farmers and ranchers to follow to help foil the thieves.

  • Be alert. Keep an eye out for unfamiliar or suspicious people attempting to purchase anhydrous ammonia from you or your neighbors.
  • Don’t leave tanks unattended for long periods of time.
  • Immediately report releases of ammonia to local police.
  • Position tanks in open areas where they can easily be seen from the road.
  • Return tanks to fertilizer dealerships immediately after use.
  • Watch for items left behind such as duct tape, buckets, ice chests, garden hoses and bicycle inner tubes.
  • Watch for, and report, suspicious looking people around your fertilizer tanks. They may be checking out the premises for a late-night raid.
  • Buy and install locks for the anhydrous ammonia valves and tanks.

Let’s all help do our part to make sure fertilizers are used for improving plant growth, not for illegal purposes.

The bottom line is that if you store ammonium nitrate or urea on the farm, make sure they are placed in a secure area that can be easily monitored by you. Do not put them in old buildings far away from areas you frequently visit. Report any suspicious people around the fertilizer area to local law enforcement agencies.


>Controlling Lawn Disease

Properly identifying and controlling diseases in your lawn can be one of the more challenging aspects of lawn care. Left alone, diseases like brown patch or dollar spot can quickly turn a beautiful lawn into a splotchy mess, or worse. Even trained experts can have trouble identifying a lawn disease. Without correct identification, a disease will likely be difficult to control.

But if you take a thoughtful approach, know when to ask for a little help, and get familiar with the conditions under which common lawn diseases thrive, you can beat them. Here are the simple steps to controlling common lawn diseases.

Identify the disease. This seems obvious but it is often not as simple as it sounds. Some lawn diseases, such as rust, are pretty easy to identify. But others look similar and may take a trained eye to properly identify. You can, however, do a little homework and narrow the possibilities.

Almost all lawn diseases are caused by fungi. Each type of fungus thrives under specific conditions, usually a combination of heat, humidity, light and moisture, and may occur only at a specific time of year or in a certain region of the country. Some diseases only attack specific types of grasses. Others thrive when the lawn is not being properly cared for, whether it’s getting too much or too little water or fertilizer, isn’t being mowed at the proper height, or has developed a thick layer of thatch.

If you get to know a little about what different lawn diseases look like and the conditions under which they thrive, you can often identify them or at least narrow the choices. Visit a good lawn and garden shop. Take them a digital photo of the problem and they’ll help identify the solution. If you still can’t positively identify which disease is infecting your lawn, take a sample of the turf to your local nursery or cooperative extension office. A 1- to 2-foot piece of sod, taken from the edge of the diseased area, is usually best. (Ideally, half the sample should be healthy grass; the other half should show symptoms of the problem.) Write down the type of grass you have, how old it is, how you care for it and the specific symptoms you have seen and when. If necessary, some state cooperative extension offices will send the sample out for lab testing.

Adjust lawn care practices. Once a disease is properly identified, you can often adjust how you care for your lawn and create conditions that are less favorable for the disease and more favorable for healthy growth of your grass. For example, heavy thatch encourages the development of many diseases, including brown patch and dollar spot. Aerating or dethatching helps reduce the problem. Over fertilizing and improper watering also encourage disease. Care for your lawn properly and many diseases won’t be serious problems.

Overseed with resistant varieties. If a lawn disease becomes a persistent problem, you may want to switch to a different type or variety of grass. Turf breeders have developed many new varieties that resist common diseases. Your cooperative extension office or local nursery can give you specific variety names.

Use a fungicide. Get the upper hand on the most common lawn diseases by using products like Bayer Advanced™ Fungus Control for Lawns Granules. Bayer Advanced Lawn Fungus Control will cure most diseases and provide up to 2 months of protection against further infection.