Source: Illinois Department of Agriculture

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is advising anyone who handles anhydrous ammonia to make sure they review safety and handling procedures before applying this fertilizer to fields this spring.

Accidental releases of anhydrous ammonia increased to 50 last year. That figure is twice the annual average for the previous five years, according to the department, which is responsible for investigating such incidents.

"If greater attention had been paid to the proper operation of equipment, many of these accidents may have been prevented," Jim Larkin, bureau chief of Ag Products Inspection, said. "Our investigations show the leading cause of accidents in 2010 was the improper management of ammonia hoses."

To prevent a reoccurrence of last year, the department is offering several key tips to prevent accidents.

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