By Darren Hefty

Unless you picked up some bulk chemical since mid-August, chances are your first experience with the new bulk tank regulations will be happening this spring.  With the federal rule changes that occurred August 16, 2011, ag retailers are no longer able to refill certain minibulk shuttles with pesticides.  Here’s a quick list of what you need to know to speed up your time at the dealership picking up crop protection products and get you back in the field.

  1. Minibulk pesticide tanks getting refilled at an ag chemical retailer must be DOT approved.
  2. These tanks must have tamper-evident seals or one-way valves.
  3. All minibulk tanks must be uniquely numbered.
  4. Most tanks must be leak tested or replaced every 2.5 years. 
  5. Contrary to earlier reports, there will be a few tanks “grandfathered” in.  Only certain Monsanto tanks will meet this requirement.  All other non-compliant tanks will not be eligible for re-filling.
  6. In our opinion, these rules are confusing, meaning you will most likely get slightly different answers to your tank questions depending on the retailer you talk to.  Nice… right?

You do need to be aware of these changes, but they shouldn’t scare you too much.  First of all, several chemical manufacturers have pre-packaged bulk product in new tanks you can buy at a discount this spring.  Second, we believe that many shuttles on farms today already meet these standards, so there’s no problem with getting them refilled.  If your tank doesn’t meet the requirements, you can either buy a new tank or most likely just have your tank re-tested and sealed.  Here’s what this process involves.

  1. Clean and rinse out your tank before bringing it in.
  2. If your tank doesn’t have a one-way valve on the bottom, we can switch your valve out for about $32 to $40.
  3. If your tank doesn’t have a tamper-proof lid on top, that can be replaced for $12 to $15 in most cases.
  4. Once your tank has the proper lid and unload valve, we pressure test tanks for no charge.  This involves putting air in the tank and watching for leaks.
  5. Once your tank passes the test, we document the testing, fill it up with the desired product, and you’re on your way.

Keep in mind that even if you’re unsure if your lid or unload valve will meet the new requirements, all tanks must have a lid or cap on when you bring it in.  Having it sealed up prevents dirt or other contaminants from entering your clean tank.  Also, tanks that don’t meet the new requirements may still be able to be used around your farm, even if that use is not for pesticides.  They just can’t be legally re-filled with a pesticide by a dealer.  Tanks that don’t meet the new criteria but were re-filled prior to August 16, 2011 can still be used this season. However, they will not be able to be re-filled again unless they are pressure tested and meet the other requirements necessary.

As always with minibulk tanks, there are some things to keep in mind, and these rules are unchanged from the past:

  • A retailer cannot legally refill a tank with a different product unless that tank has been thoroughly rinsed and cleaned.  By different, that means even two products that are similar, like Roundup PowerMAX and Roundup WeatherMAX.  Legally, you have to rinse and clean tanks any time you’ll be putting in a product that has a different EPA number, so even different versions of Roundup technically require cleaning.
  • A retailer cannot refill a tank that is not in good condition.
  • Most poly tanks are designed to last up to 6 years, but that’s only if they’re kept out of the sun.  Sunlight degrades tanks, so keep your tanks in the shade as much as possible, even if you plan to keep your tanks for just 2 or 3 years.
  • Minibulk tanks must be 56 gallons or greater with virtually all products.