Anhydrous ammonia is an effective and efficient way to supply nitrogen fertilizer to field crops. Fall applied anhydrous ammonia is also a way to spread the workload of spring planting. Anhydrous means without water. Anhydrous ammonia (NH 3 ) is comprised of one part nitrogen and three parts hydrogen. Therefore when anhydrous ammonia comes in contact with water they readily combine. When injected into the soil, the liquid ammonia converts to a gas and is quickly absorbed by the soil moisture. In wet soils, nitrogen loss can occur when the nitrogen moves with soil moisture. The use of a nitrogen stabilizer, especially for fall-applied nitrogen, can reduce the loss of nitrogen.

Because anhydrous ammonia readily combines with water, it will quickly combine with the water in any body tissue with which it comes into contact. Injury occurs when a victim cannot escape an accidental sudden release of anhydrous ammonia.

Minimum personal protective gear for handling anhydrous ammonia includes goggles or a face shield, rubber gloves and a heavy long-sleeved shirt. Regular eyeglasses are not sufficient; tight-fitting goggles or a face shield is critical for protecting a handler’s eyes from an accidental release of anhydrous ammonia. Never wear contact lenses, the lenses can trap the gas between the lens and the eye. Loose-fitting rubber gloves with an extended cuff are the preferred gear to protect your hands. Turn down the cuff to catch any ammonia that escapes so it does not run down your sleeve when you raise your arms.

Injury can occur quickly if exposure occurs. Immediately flush the affected area with water. If an accidental exposure occurs, seek medical help immediately to avoid permanent injury. For more information contact Valerie Tate, agronomy specialist for MU Extension at tatev@missouri.edu or 660-895-5123.