Kentucky: Surviving Mother Nature

Fluid Fertilizer Tanks

The 2003 planting season was just about to kick off for 2009 Regional Environmental Respect Award (ERA) winner Crop Pro­duc­tion Services (CPS) of Clay, KY, when Mother Nature launched a surprise attack. “The local television station was one of the first to reach our outlet,” says Clay Manager Kenneth Roberts.

“The TV lights were all we had, but they were enough to show us that the tornado that struck had hit the bull’s eye, CPS Clay was a total loss,” he said. “Customers and competitors saw us on the late news,” Roberts explains. “It wasn’t long until we had a huge clean-up crew out here.”

The damage to structures was nearly total, but diked buildings and anchored fertilizer tanks saved the environment from disaster. “Everything held very well,” explained Crop Consultant Phillip Osborn. “We had plenty to clean up but it did not involve fertilizer or crop protection products.”

The facility was reconstructed over existing diking and floors. “Today, every effort is made to assure customers and the community that CPS Clay intends to maintain its readiness against any kind of incident created by Mother Nature or human nature,” says Roberts.

Proper Ammonia Handling

A state-of-the-art anhydrous ammonia load-out area services up to four tanks. The latest technology in quick-couple valves guards against accidental ammonia spills. All bleed-off ammonia gas is sent to water tanks rather than being venting into the atmosphere. “We have neighbors adjacent to our lot,” says Roberts. “We try not to give them even a whiff of ammonia.”

The Clay outlet services corn, soybean, and tobacco growers in several surrounding counties. A custom-designed mixing and load-out building supplies nurse trucks and sprayers with a large variety of crop protection products. “A few years ago I was mixing a batch of chemicals and picked up the wrong hose,” explains Roberts. “I caught it before I messed up, but I realized that my employees could make the same mistake. So we designed a load-out pad with everything labeled and the hoses segregated and hung so they aren’t rolled up and mixed together on the floor. We are very proud of this system,” he says.

The CPS Clay outlet takes pride in its community involvement and is a leading participant in the local Youth Ag Day. The Clay outlet was awarded the 2008 Webster County Environmentalist Award for its work on-site and in the community.

“A farm center can have the most up-to-date technology and most expensive buildings, but without the right people you have nothing,” says Roberts. “Ultimately people are who protect the environment.”

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