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Rinsing pesticide containers – a grower’s experience

Need a primer on how to rinse caged tanks? Here's how one farmer does it quickly and efficiently. See a video of how it's done. Find out how you can arrange to have tanks picked up at no cost.

It takes Scott McPheeters about an hour to set up and rinse three caged tanks for recycling. For McPheeters, it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind and farm stewardship.

McPheeters farms around 6,000 acres of food-grade yellow and white corn, soybeans and popcorn with his father, Burt, and sons, Clark and Kerry, around Gothenburg, Neb. His row crop acres are irrigated with center pivot systems. Along with crop production, they have on-farm storage for all crops and deliver grain throughout the year.

McPheeters and his sons design and build some of their own equipment and do most of the maintenance and repair work in the McPheeters’ farm shop.

They have been rinsing and recycling mini-bulk containers for more than 10 years and rinsing and recycling caged tanks for about eight years. They use about 10 caged tanks per year, which typically contain glyphosate, spray adjuvants and other crop chemicals.

McPheeters recently participated in a webinar in which he demonstrated his rinsing program. Click here for avideodemonstration. Click Rinsing and Recycling Caged Tanks to view the webinar in its entirety.

The McPheeters’ system for cleaning tanks begins on an area covered with gravel and covered with a tarp to collect escaped rinsate. After the initial setup of about 15 minutes, it takes 15 minutes to rinse each tank. They can do three tanks in about an hour, and the total time for five tanks is about 1.5 hours to 2 hours. “For 10 tanks, it takes less than three hours. We recommend using the rinsate in your application tank. It’s right there, it’s easy and it’s practical. You’re already wearing your PPE (personal protection equipment).”

The recommended PPE can be found on the pesticide label for mixing, loading and applying specific pesticides. If many different containers are to be cleaned, it’s best to use the most protective PPE.

A chemical resistant apron is also recommended because it protects the grower from exposure. During cleaning, the grower is likely to come in contact with pesticide residue.

McPheeters rinses his containers using a nozzle designed for a center pivot irrigation system. There is also a new device that will screw into the top of an intermediate bulk container (IBC) or caged tank. It provides complete coverage of the inside of the tank with pressurized water from a garden hose. This device can take the place of having to fill, shake and tip containers to clean them.

The video above also shows a new rinsing device that was developed by Bayer CropScience and is being produced by FarmChem. Information on Bayer’s new nozzle, as well as other nozzles, will be available soon on

The rinsing procedure is repeated until the inside of the container is clean and residues are gone. The container exterior must also be cleaned to remove dirt and chemical residue. Using water and a scrub brush, wash until all visible residues are gone.

The final step is to drain the container completely, so that no water remains. Growers should remove parts from the container that cannot be recycled and always make sure the product label remains on. Until a caged tank is recycled, be sure to keep it in a secure, dry location.

More information on cleaning containers can be found at

“We feel like rinsing and recycling our caged tanks is the right thing to do to maintain the integrity of our operation, to practice proper stewardship,” McPheeters said. “I encourage all growers to rinse and recycle their caged tanks and encourage your dealers to help you. If we practice good stewardship now, we can hopefully avoid more far-reaching and cumbersome regulations in the future. We just want to do the right thing now.”

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