By: Brian Miller, Precision Ag & Equipment Sales
NH3 is one of the most stable and concentrated forms of nitrogen, and still probably the most popular form of N to use across the corn belt. With how obvious it is that time will be an issue this spring, it will be tempting to take a few shortcuts when the application window opens. Please don’t. We’ve all heard the stories of close calls and disasters. Try not to become one of those stories in the name of saving a minute or two. Safety and maintenance ahead of time, with a little in-season common sense can go a long way. Let’s look at a couple ways to make sure we can have a safe spring.
Bleeders, bleeders, bleeders. If you must work on a toolbar or do any maintenance in season, it always takes longer than what you think to bleed down a bar before you can work on it. If you have multiple bleeder valves in different locations, that can drastically reduce the amount of time it takes before you can do your work. Just don’t forget to shut them all! Another great idea is to come to Hills and pick up a few pass-through bleed valves. They operate just like normal but have a hose barb on the outlet where you can attach a hose and run it somewhere else on the bar, away from the operator.
Look over your dated and non-dated hose. Any hose that would be deemed “pressurized” should be dated. If it isn’t, that should be changed, and if it is, check the hose to see if it is out of date. NH3 causes normal hose to become more prone to cracking due to the constant heating/cooling as well as wear from the product itself. Any “non-pressurized” hose should also be visually checked for wear and brittleness. The white/clear row hose is especially prone to this. We have black EVA hose that is sun-wear and kink resistant that is a good economical replacement.
Finally, just use common sense. Try to park upwind when you are changing tanks, always drive defensively when going from farm to farm, and do any tests/procedures you can while the bar is not under pressure.