Protecting the Environment

The essentials for storing solid and liquid fertilisers

Farm storage of fertilisers is covered by Codes of Practice to prevent water pollution. Enforcement action could be taken, or new legislation could be implemented if farmers do not adhere to these codes. Land Based Underwriters help to protect your business with environmental impairment liability insurance.

General Guides

  • Site all stores as far from watercourses or surface water drains as possible – never less than 10m.
  • Site at least 50m from any well, borehole, or aquifer outcrop where risk of groundwater contamination is high.
  • Provide secondary containment for storage where contamination risk is high.
  • Ensure good well-constructed vehicular access.
  • Keep an inventory of fertiliser stored – type, volume, delivery.
  • Make all storage as secure as possible with consideration given to lighting and fencing.
  • Site all stores away from public access to minimise interference or vandalism.
  • Ensure operators are trained in use and emergency procedures.
  • Obtain Code of Practice for the Prevention of Water Pollution from the Storage and Handling of Fluid and Solid Fertilisers

Solid Fertiliser Storage

If the storage area is well-sited and constructed, then solid fertilisers are low risk for watercourses. The main risk for solid fertilisers occurs in the event of a fire, when contaminated fire water escapes.

Permanent Stores


  • Locate away from heat sources and combustible materials to minimise fire risk.
  • Ensure sites are level, with indoor storage on impermeable concrete floors that are not prone to flooding.
  • Avoid prolonged outdoor storage but where unavoidable ensure it is protected from rain and sunlight with shrink wrapping and/or sheeting.
  • Keep storage areas clean and rodent free.
  • Handle all bags with care.
  • Re-bag damaged bags immediately.
  • Do not use sawdust as an absorbent.
  • Notify the Fire Authority and Health & Safety Executive if 25 tonnes, or more, of ammonium nitrate is stored at any one time.
  • Develop contingency plans to contain contaminated firewater and prevent entry to drains or watercourses.
Temporary or Field Storage
  • Do not store within 10m of a ditch, watercourse or land drains.
  • Return unused bags to a permanent store as soon as possible.
Fluid Fertiliser Storage

Farmers have a duty of care for siting, use, and maintenance even when fertiliser suppliers provide tanks.

Using Tanks:

  • Ensure tanks, pipework and valves are fit for purpose and tamperproof.
  • Ensure delivery companies are aware of emergency procedures.
  • Ensure tank, pipework and valves are in good condition before deliveries are made.
  • Avoid overfilling and check tank has sufficient capacity before delivery.

Maintaining Tanks:

  • Have tanks, pipework and valves inspected internally and externally, for damage and corrosion at least annually by a suitably qualified technician.
  • Carry out any necessary remedial work immediately.
  • Drain down and flush through all pipework at the end of each season.
  • Keep a maintenance record.

Permanent Storage

For permanent storage be sure to conduct an environmental risk assessment, if high risk is shown be sure to construct a secondary containment. 

It is recommended that reinforced masonry or concrete is used, and provision is made for at least 110% tank capacity.

Bowser and Mobile Tanks

Temporary storage can pose significant hazards to watercourses. Suitable siting is crucial, farmers need to take transport around the land into careful consideration. 

Bowsers must be set on level, solid ground, with watertight seals and sufficient support before delivery is made.

Dealing with Spillages and Emergency Procedures 


Contain spillages using absorbent materials where possible. Be sure to block gullies, drainage systems and other routes to watercourses. Do not hose down a spillage.

Emergency Procedures:

Establish emergency procedures by assessing the risks on your farm and identifying routes to water sources.

Devise spillage and fire emergency procedures. It is recommended that you block drains and dam watercourses, as well as keeping stocked with leak-sealing putty for temporary repairs.

Get in Touch

Discover the appropriate steps necessary to ensure your business is protected with the help of environmental impairment liability insurance. For more information and advice on how to appropriately protect your farm, and the environment, get in touch with Land Based Underwriters.