Fertilizer Handling

The Issue

Transport, storage and associated handling of fertilizer products present a range of risks including product loss, associated environmental hazards and road safety issues. Environmental risks can be summarised as Leach, Load, Run and Blow. 

It is in the industries best interests to avoid product loss, while community expectations are that off-site product loss and contamination of soil, water and air quality is minimised.

On October 1 2018 changes to the Chain of Responsibility laws will affect fertilizer transport. More information is available on the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator web site. 


Fertilizer Australia Response

The fertilizer industry recognises its obligations to eliminate as far as practicable the hazards resulting from the transport, storage and associated handling of fertilizer.  Fertilizer Australia developed a Fertilizer Handling COP to assist members to identify and manage risks associated with fertilizer handling. The primary focus of the COP is management of product loss and the associated hazards. It covers:
  • solid and liquid fertilizer formulations;
  • bulk and packaged products; and
  • work-places that transport, store and handle fertilizer. 

The COP provides a risk assessment and treatment approach to managing loss of product containment. As each work-site is different, individual locations are encouraged to use the code to develop a risk management plan appropriate to the work-site which is then reviewed on a regular basis. 

To assist with implementation of the COP, model standard operating procedures (SOP) relating to the movement of fertilizer from ship to shed are available. Businesses are encouraged to customise the SOP to their own circumstances and locations.

In addition to a risk management plan, fertilizer companies may also employ a range of environmental protection tools such as an Environment Policy, Environment Management Systems and Emergency Response Plans.

With fertilizer increasingly being treated with fungicides, inhibitors and biostimulants, care needs to be taken when handling treated products to reduce the risk of cross contamination. The Truck Cleaning Flyer found in the Resources section below provides guidance on reducing contamination risks. Consider making the flyer available to truck drivers when they pick up bulk treated fertilizer.  

Details of how members of Fertilizer Australia are performing in managing environmental issues can be found in the Sustainability and Stewardship Report. To access the report click on the image above.



Fertilizer Handling Code of Practice.pdf

Model SOP Wharf to Warehouse.docx 

Model SOP Ship to Shed Blow Down.docx

Model SOP Ship to Shed.docx

Unloading Bulk Fertilizer on Farm.pdf

Truck Cleaning Flyer.pdf


Bulk fertilizer delivery to farms presents particular risks; watch the video for some safety tips.




To help manage the risks associated with spreading fertilizer, refer the video below