If you need to relieve some frustration from last year's season, take a baseball bat to your poly tank before taking it to the field this coming spring.
No, the cold weather has not got to my head. Seriously, many of the poly tanks used for transporting pesticides and fertilizer are getting to be a decade old or older in many cases. In some cases, these tanks are being used for uses for which they have not been designed.
Dr. Fred Whitford has addressed this issue at recent private applicator programs in Owen and Clay counties. Fred also recently released a very nice publication with pictures and demonstrations about this topic. Locally, we just received a supply of these publications that are free until the supply is exhausted.
Fred demonstrated that striking a baseball bat to the tank is the best method to test the soundness of the tank. If the tank visually splits or cracks, it is obviously not suitable for use this spring.
After striking the tank, one should take a water soluble pen (dry erase marker) and cover the area with ink where the bat impacted the tank. A tank that is still in good shape will not show crazing (a checkered pattern) where the impact occurred. Marking the area impacted with the bat is necessary as one cannot visually see or feel the crazing. Only with the water soluble ink can one see the crazing of the poly material suggesting deterioration.
There are several factors to keep in mind when purchasing or using poly tanks. The sun (ultraviolet) light is the biggest factor causing the deterioration of tanks. Therefore, stationary tanks are most likely going to fail on the side where the sun strikes it the most frequently and would be the area where one would want to apply the force of the bat. Color has no impact on the rate of deterioration, contrary to what one might think.
Not all tanks are created equal, as there is a rating scale for the tanks. Rather than color, pay attention to the density rating.
A 1.0 density tank is rated equal to the pressure exerted by water, whereas a 1.9 density tank would be rated to withstand 1.9 times the pressure exerted by water. One should certainly have a 1.5 or 1.9 rated density tank when the tank will be utilized for transport.
A long columnar tank must be baffled appropriately or positioned on a trailer such that the sloshing stress factor is minimized.
Valves should be light weight plastic and supported to reduce stress at this potential high impact area of the tank. When purchasing a tank, check the reinforcement at valve areas. A good analogy is a plastic milk or pop container, which is reinforced at the bottom and mouth areas that potentially receive the greatest impact. One should never buy a used tank unless one is only planning to use it to haul water.
It is hoped that producers will make an effort to check out their tanks. Ignoring this factor can lead to major problems during the busiest time of the year, which can be costly.
Furthermore, the environmental and legal problems from a tank failure can certainly be a persisting pain not to mention the loss of the value in the actual product.
The Office of the Indiana State Chemist has been receiving more and more of these types of reports during the past couple of years due to these aging tanks.
All it takes is a bump in the road or a railroad crossing to test your full tank if you are unwilling to check it with a baseball bat when empty sitting in the shed.
Again, contact the office for a free copy of Fred's most recent publication
You can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 829-5020 Ext. 14 in Owen County or 448-9041 in Clay County for more information or publication copies regarding this week's column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs.
While most publications are free, some do have a fee. All times listed are Eastern Time.
Jan. 8 -- Growing for Markets (five Thursday series), Bloomington, 6:30 p.m.,
Jan. 12-14 -- Indiana Green Expo, Indianapolis,
Jan. 13 -- Forestry Class, eight week evenings, Martinsville,
Jan. 19-21 -- Hort Congress, Indianapolis,
Jan. 20 -- Private Applicator Program, Brazil/Spencer, 6:30 p.m.,
Jan. 21-22 -- Heartland of America Grazing Conference, Columbus,
Jan. 21-22 -- Midwest Organic Conference, Indianapolis,
Jan. 26 -- Clay Extension Advisory Council Annual Meeting, 6:30 p.m.,
Jan. 27 -- Managing Margin Risk, five Tuesdays (Brazil and Spencer), 7 p.m.,
Jan. 29 -- Private Applicator Program, Brazil/Spencer, 9 a.m.,
Jan. 29 -- Efficient Landscaping, Beef House, 6 p.m.,
Jan. 31 -- Owen SWCD Annual Meeting, Tickets, 829-2605, 6:30 p.m.,
Feb. 14 -- Business Management for Horse Stables, Noblesville, 8:30 a.m.,
Feb. 27-28 -- Indiana Cattle and Forage Symposium, Indianapolis