Jul 16, 2018, 11:36 AM by Ruth Sim-Mutch

Fuel Storage for Farmers

Fuel management is one of the most important jobs for any farm to keep moving. It can also be one of the hardest. Any farmer who has experienced issues with their fuel supply will understand the impact it can have on productivity, overheads and not to mention your stress levels.

For this year’s Farm Safety Week, supported by the Farm Safety Foundation, we’re on a mission to help farmers ensure their fuel supply is #fuelsafe which means it’s safe from spillages and contamination, secure against theft and always available.

Safe and compliant storage

Over 20% of UK farmers have been victim of fuel theft and one in ten have experienced a spillage* which demonstrates the importance of choosing and maintaining your fuel tank correctly to avoid these costly, hazardous and disruptive issues.

Tanks are an essential piece of kit, requiring ongoing maintenance to ensure that they are compliant with regulations. Without regular maintenance of the tank and the area surrounding it, farmers run the risk of costly spills and leaks. In addition, if a tank is deemed to be unsafe for refuelling, most reputable fuel suppliers will refuse to fill it up, which can impact productivity if you run out.

To keep your valuable agricultural fuel safe and compliant with SSAFO regulations, make sure you’re following these top tips:

  • Double up - store fuel in a container with an impermeable secondary containment structure or bund with a capacity of 110%
  • Keep away from water - place the storage system at least 10 metres away from any source of water
  • Ensure it’s watertight - the entirety of the secondary containment structure must be impermeable to oil and water (and not have a drain downpipe)
  • Keep everything in the bund - this includes sight gauges, tank drain-down valves and shut-off valves associated with fixed or flexible draw-off delivery pipes
  • Secure your pipes - any flexible delivery pipes that are permanently attached must be fitted with a self-closing tap or valve and must be locked inside the bund when not in use
  • Stay grounded - Ideally keep tanks at ground level. If at a height, make sure they can be safely accessed and delivered to; or install an offset fill-point and gauge at ground level

Managing oil spills

Despite taking every precaution, accidents do happen so it’s important to be prepared. In fact, 20% of farmers said fuel leaks were an issue for them and as many as 1 in 10 have experienced a spillage.

Always keep a spill kit close by to your oil tanks, including commercial sorbent products (or use sand or earth) and ensure your staff are fully trained on how to use it safely. If a spillage occurs, the first thing to do is to try and stop the oil getting into any sources of water. Soak up the oil with your spill kit, while staying safe, and don’t hose it down or use detergents as this could make the problem worse. Then notify the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60. If oil soaks into the ground you will need to call in a professional company to prevent long term pollution. Make sure any contaminated materials are stored in oil containers until they can be properly disposed of.

With the busy summer season well underway, Farm Safety Week is an excellent opportunity to ensure that your farm is fuel safe. To help farmers keep moving all year round with a reliable supply of fuel, we provide a range of fuel storage solutions that help farms meet regulatory requirements and protect against spillages and leakages.

Click here to see our top tips infographic to help make sure your farm is #fuelsafe and download our guide to safe fuel management. You can also use the #fuelsafe hashtag on Twitter if you have any questions.

*Survey carried out by Certas Energy of 133 farmers who attended LAMMA 2018.