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Fertilizer as dangerous as it is, is also vital to farmers and growing their crops.
Anhydrous Ammonia, a chemical that has leveled part of a Texas town can be found right here in Kansas. Shawnee County farmer, Shannon Hook uses it on his crops in the Spring.
” It is the most valuable source of nitrogen to put on corn. That’s mainly what we use it for..is corn. It’s cheaper than liquid fertilizer.”
Hook says, Anhydrous Ammonia is at the top of the shopping list for corn farmers.
” If we didn’t use anhydrous ammonia, we’d be stuck with just regular liquid nitrogen and it’s quite a bit more expensive and I don’t think the longevity of it is as good as anhydrous ammonia.”
If handled incorrectly, Hook says it can stir up trouble.
” Anhydrous will go to moisture so if you breath in a bunch it can freeze your lungs it can burn your skin and that’s the thing, it finds the moisture in your skin or inside your body, and it can kill you that way.”
But it’s also very good when crop season rolls around.
Hook says he believes the natural gas in the plant played a huge part in the West Texas Explosion.
” It’s not a flammable gas, I think what caused the problem down there is anhydrous is the byproduct of natural gas and I think there’s natural gas inside that plant that caused the explosion.”
Hook says he uses extreme caution when it comes to using this on his crops, but for as much as it can speed up growing, it can also be disastrous.
The Kansas Department of Agriculture says it inspects Anhydrous Ammonia storage facilities here in Kansas on an annual basis.