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Thursday, April 30, 2015

What is Anhydrous Ammonia?...

We seem to be dodging rain showers every other day around here making it hard for us to find the perfect window to get in the fields.  We have managed to get all of our anhydrous applied.  The anhydrous ammonia is in the white tank that you see below behind the tractor.  The implement in between the tractor and the anhydrous tank is called a toolbar.  It has a hose that connects it to the tank so the anhydrous is applied equally under the ground.
We use Anhydrous Ammonia to obtain the element nitrogen.  We apply most of our Anhydrous before the corn is planted, weather permitting.  Some farmers apply it after the corn is planted.  This is called side dressing.  Since we are adding more nitrogen to the soil, it makes the corn a lush green color and creates a healthier plant.  Anhydrous is the most efficient form of nitrogen.  Anhydrous Ammonia is stored in its liquid form in the tank you see in the pictures in this post, until it is injected in the soil.  The application is carefully controlled by valves and meters.  As the Anhydrous Ammonia is released from the tank, the drop in pressure causes it to boil, releasing the element nitrogen that is used by the corn.

To maintain soil fertility without man-made sources of nitrogen, the 11 million tons of industrially created nitrogen that farmers in the US use each year would need to be replaced by manure from about 1 billion cattle.  Those cattle would require another 2 billion acres to feed.  That demand would take much of the continental United States. (source)

 Anhydrous Ammonia can be dangerous only if it's not handled properly, therefore important safety measures are used at all times.  Special goggles and gloves are worn when switching tanks.  B is modeling the very glamorous goggles here... 


So now you know what those white tanks are in the field!
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