A Publication of WTVP

Peoria area farmers have wrapped up the 2003 harvest season. With corn and soybeans in the bin, farmers have focused on fall tillage and nitrogen applications as temperatures cooled down. Soil temperatures were a main focus after November 1. Anhydrous ammonia, a form of nitrogen fertilizer for next year’s corn crop, is often applied in the fall to reduce the work load the following spring planting season. Soil temperatures must be below 50 degrees to keep the nitrogen stabilized in the soil. As temperatures warm up next spring, the ammonia form of nitrogen will be converted to nitrate nitrogen, which is readily available for the growing corn plant.

An ongoing concern of the rural tri-county area is the theft of anhydrous ammonia from nurse tanks. These nurse tanks basically look like a big, white bottle on four wheels. If you’ve traveled rural roads this fall, I’m sure you’ve seen them behind a tractor and applicator in the field or lined up at the Farm Service Coop.

Anhydrous ammonia is a key component to making methamphetamine-a dangerous and highly addictive drug that’s dramatically increased in popularity the last five years.

Barns, outbuildings, storage sheds, and vacant buildings are common places where methamphetamine is produced. Remote locations are often chosen to hide the smell from the chemicals needed to make the drug.

Methamphetamines or (meth) are addictive to the user because it strongly activates certain systems in the brain. It causes increased heart rate and blood pressure and can cause irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain, producing strokes. Other effects of meth can include respiratory problems, irregular heartbeats, and an extreme acceleration in aging. It’s estimated recovery rates from meth addiction run seven out of 100.

In 1977, there were only 24 meth labs reported seized in Illinois. This number jumped to 87 in 1998, and in 1999 reached 246. In 2001, the number of seized labs reached 666. These numbers illustrate the current crisis we’re facing with this deadly drug.

Not only does meth pose a problem for society in terms of social and economic productivity, it can toxically pollute our environment. One pound of methamphetamine produces five or six pounds of toxic waste, which can seep into the soil, posing long-term hazards.

Anyone caught with 30 grams or more of meth faces a minimum prison sentence of six years. In addition to the criminal code, it’s unlawful for any person to tamper with anhydrous ammonia equipment, containers, or storage facilities. This offense is a Class A misdemeanor.

The Farm Bureau encourages all citizens to keep an eye out for anhydrous ammonia tank tampering and the resulting manufacture of methamphetamine. If you see anything suspicious around anhydrous ammonia tanks, please contact the local law enforcement immediately. IBI