Most farm chemical stores are well maintained, but during busy periods it’s easy to overlook best practice and regulations, which can lead to costly consequences, from fines to fire damage.

Because of this, BASIS store auditor, Peter Scott, gives advice on how to review stores and best practice. He highlights various steps that can be taken to minimise fire risk, reduce waste and limit contamination.

“I normally start by reminding farmers of what not to have in the store. There are a lot of disinfectant product that shouldn’t be kept near pesticides, as they’re oxidisers. Should a fire breakout, the gases produce when the two substances combine can be extremely dangerous,” he says.

“Also, in the case of a fire, current records of pesticide stock will help to speed up treatment, but they’re mandatory for most assurance schemes, including Red Tractor, so this shouldn’t be an issue for most,” adds Peter.

Laurence Matthews, Red Tractor combinable crops and sugar beet chair, explains that Red Tractor standards require up to date stock lists that assist in product rotation. This means that older products are used first and only those with a current MAPP number are used.

Peter mentions that many chemicals are highly flammable. “If your store has a wooden door, I’d suggest replacing it or adding a metal plate – this could provide an additional 30 minutes to contain the fire.

“Many chemicals become unstable if frozen, so keeping them frost-free can help to maintain the efficacy of pesticides. Insulating the store before cold weather will go a long way to minimising frost damage.

While it is important to make sure the store is set up correctly, but the way in which chemicals are kept can also improve safety credentials.

 “In general, liquids should be kept below dry products such as slug pellets, to avoid drips contaminating other products in the case of a leak,” explains Peter.

Assurance schemes stipulate good standards and Laurence Matthews reiterates that Red Tractor stresses that safe and secure chemical storage is essential to ensuring the safety of operators, the production of safe food and having minimal impact on the environment.

Top tips for pesticide storage

·        Make sure the store is bunded

·        Store powders above liquids

·        Don’t keep oxidising products in the store, if possible

·        Protect against frost with insulation or black heat

·        Use non-absorbent shelving

·        Correct signage should be used

·        Keep flammable products in a separate and marked area

·        Regularly check and rotate stocks

·        Keep two copies of stock records, one in store and one away

·        Ensure lighting is adequate for reading bottle labels

·        Keep products in their original packaging

·        A spill kit should be available