Many farms still use single-wall fuel storage tanks, but fuel storage probably doesn’t rank on most growers’ lists of high-priority upgrades. More growers should be considering fuel storage upgrades, say industry experts—for business, safety, and environmental reasons.
Fueling practices on the farm
The downsides of older technology
Older fuel tanks have several risks, says Ken Pierson, sales product manager with Meridian Manufacturing in Lethbridge, Alta. For instance, single-walled, gravity-fed systems often deliver fuel slowly—making it tempting to walk away while you’re waiting, leading to overflow.
“These systems are almost always single-walled tanks with no venting and a drain plug in the bottom,” Pierson says. “It’s not safe for the owner, for the person filling up his equipment or for the fuel agent. There are so many better options available that will turn what can be a liability, into an asset.”
In many ways, agriculture is behind other industries when it comes to fuel storage technology. “In every industry other than agriculture, a double-walled system with secondary containment is the norm,” says Alan Vantol, business coordinator for the petroleum tank program with United Farmers of Alberta (UFA). “It’s only a matter of time until it is the norm across all industries.”
Tip: Review safety hazards with fuel storage and handling
Incentives, regulations vary from province to province
Check on your province’s fuel regulations and potential incentives as you consider upgrades. Newer, stricter regulations may make it seem more costly to upgrade, but some provinces also offer incentives to encourage farms to install new systems.
Growers who plan now for fuel system upgrades are wise, says Dan Brewin, director, equipment, fuel and lubricants with Crop Protection Services Canada, because fuel storage practices and regulations will continue to focus on environmental protection and safety going forward. New systems also make fuel storage more efficient, he says.
Safe fuel storage on the farm
“We work with growers to design a site that meets their needs, meets regulatory standards and also makes the fuel easy to deliver,” Brewin says.
Tip: Develop your farm safety plan
How to select new fuel storage technology
Farms should take several factors into account when updating their fuel storage systems, Vantol says. Size is a critical component, with multiple facets to consider.
- Choose a fuel storage system large enough to minimize the need for frequent refills, but small enough to ensure you change out fuel seasonally, to prevent condensation or moisture in the fuel. “Most growers would need two or three turns of fuel to get the right seasonal mix,” Pierson says.
- Farms in the 2,000-5,000 acre range typically need a 15,000-25,000 litre tank.
- Farms over 5,000 acres may need 50,000-75,000 litres.
- Consider how long it takes your supplier to refill your tanks during critical times of the year like harvest.
- Newer systems with electronic pumps provide a 40 gallon/minute pump rate, much faster than gravity-fed systems.