Farm Journal

Safe Chemical Transport

By Sara Schafer
October 4, 2008

Converting a used licensed chemical trailer into a sprayer tender provides peace of mind, as well as convenience, for Ben Riensche of Jesup, Iowa.The trailer’s safety and convenience enabled it to earn top honors in the sprayer category of Farm Journal’s “I Built the Best” Contest.

Riensche, who farms with his father, Roland, as Blue Diamond Farming Company, spends lots of time on the road. “Using a truck designed to haul chemicals seems safer than strapping mini-bulk tanks to a flatbed,” he says.

Riensche bought the trailer with stainless steel tanks for $14,000 and spent another $2,000 to modify it for farm use. Before he picked up the trailer, the seller cleaned the inside of the tanks to remove residue from previous loads and pulled off the insulating skin on the outside of the trailer.

The trailer has five compartments, totaling 6,200 gal. During planting season, Riensche fills the two rear compartments with water. Two other compartments contain a mixture of fertilizer and water for the planter. The remaining compartment contains bulk herbicide and its own metered pump.

“We have many situations where we need to be able to haul bulk chemicals but apply different rates in various fields,” Riensche says. “So this system lets us mix on-site.”

At other times of the year, all the tanks can be used to haul fertilizer.

Riensche and two key employees, Paul Martin and Andy Covington, customized the trailer for its new role. They mounted the pumps and outlets on the passenger side of the trailer, along with plenty of hose. When necessary, they can pull the truck off alongside the road and reach across road ditches to fill planters and sprayers. They store the hose in PVC pipe, held in place by a bolt through one end of the pipe and an elbow on the other, which secures the hose and allows air to circulate so it can dry out.

For easy cleanup, the team used grain bin flooring to make a platform along the top of the tanks and storage bins for supplies.

The outlet for the bulk herbicide compartment is locked with a chain, so it can’t be opened accidentally.

“With good brakes, lights and turn signals, the rig is as safe on the road at night as in the daytime,” Riensche says.

Good used tanker trailers are not hard to find, according to Riensche. “Often, very good trailers have to be retired from sanitary or food-grade service because of minor damage to the insulation, while everything inside is fine,” he says.

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