If you purchase a new piece of equipment you would expect it to be field ready and safety-minded. But it doesn't hurt to check. We recently inspected a fertilizer wagon a farmer was pulling behind his planter to supply starter fertilizer with zinc to be placed in the seed trench. We were looking to see how it was attached to the frame.
New-looking tow straps were located at key positions. The wagon had two tanks, and both were securely fastened to the wagon frame with the appropriate number of straps.
It may seem like a small thing but if a tank breaks loose and winds up on the road, then leaks or spills, you've got an emergency clean-up problem on your hand, notes Bill Field, Purdue University Director of Purdue Pesticide Programs.
Manufacturers don't just put straps on willy-nilly or because they look pretty. There are guidelines under the law that specify how many straps are required, depending upon the size of the load and length of what's being strapped down. If you have a homemade fertilizer wagon where you've attached tanks to a cart, you still need to make sure you're using enough straps to tie it down to the cart, Whitford says.
Losing a tank can result in a costly hassle. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management must be notified, and there could be clean-up costs involved. It's not as simple as just letting the spilled chemical or fertilizer run into the side ditch and driving away – not today.
Even if you purchased a commercial wagon for this purpose, you might want to inspect the straps to make sure they are tight. You may also want to do some calculations to make sure the company has enough straps as required by code holding the tanks in place.