Many agricultural enterprises use large amounts of agricultural chemicals. The use of these chemicals seems to increase as the cost of labor increases. With this increased usage comes the potential for surface and ground water contamination as a result of improper storage of chemical residue, rinse water, and unused chemicals and the improper disposal of empty containers. Considerable research is being conducted in this area; however, to date few easily managed, cost-effective alternatives have been identified. State and local regulations should be considered before planning any chemical handling system.
The chemicals and solids in rinse water should be concentrated. This can be done by collecting the material in an evaporative pond. Once the sludge has dehydrated, it should be placed in a leakproof container. If possible the container should be disposed of by local or state officials or by private businesses that specialize in this activity. Proper clothing and breathing equipment should be used when handling spent chemicals and sludge from settling/drying basins. Precaution should be taken to prevent animals and children from gaining access to such facilities.
Rinse water may be collected in below ground pits. This liquid can then be used as a part of the make-up water when the chemical is needed again. Separate pits are needed for different chemicals.
Purchase and use only the amount of material actually needed. This requires accurate determination of the amount of pesticide solution needed and careful calibration and operation of application equipment. Once a chemical solution is prepared, all of the material needs to be used for the purpose intended. This reduces the amount of waste material to be processed.
Chemical containers can be disposed of properly in one of two ways. They can be turned over to authorities or businesses that have the responsibility of handling them, or they can be buried. Before the containers are buried, they must first be triple rinsed, opened, and the liquid allowed to evaporate. Burial is practical only in locations where the burial site will always be above the ground water level.
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