Grain Fumigation HDS / ECO2

09/2022 Issue: Grain Fumigation with cylinderized PH3

By Jordan Rivera Indy Regional Manager

Grain bin fumigations are a bit daunting, especially when attempted on the farm with ill-trained operators or farmers. Though they mean well, most are inadvertently contributing to a growing problem here in the US, phosphine resistance. Phosphine is a wonderful fumigant, it penetrates the kernel well, moves through the fumigated space great when recirculated. It also comes in a variety of forms: pellets, tablets, ECO2Fume, VaporPH3OS, and others. Let look at these last 2 a little more.

ECO2Fume and VaporPH3OS are 2 types of cylinderized phosphine gas. ECO2Fume is produced by Solvay and is a mixture of 98% CO2 and 2% Phosphine. This allows for a safe and quick application of phosphine into the structure, without the dangers of reaching that phosphine self-combustion point. VaporPH3OS is also a cylinderized version of phosphine gas produced by Solvay but is pure phosphine and requires special equipment and training to be utilized. Unlike ECO2Fume there is a very real risk fire…and those of us in the Ag industry know grain dust and fire don’t play nicely together.

Seen in the picture on the left, ECO2Fume can be used to fumigate large grain bins quickly. Without the need to account for solid forms of AlP or Mg3P2 to breakdown and “off-gas,” the hold time can be much shorter with ECO2Fume. With the right temperatures, a successful treatment can be done in as little as 24-36 hours! One downside of using ECO2Fume, is that because it is a mixture of CO2 and phosphine, a high-pressure gas introduction line is needed! In conjunction with the introduction line, monitoring not just for PH3 but also CO2 must be conducted.

Moving on to VaporPH3OS…a fumigant that, if used incorrectly, can have a much more violent outcome than ECO2Fume. Both use a deadly chemical to control all life stages of stored product pests, but VaporPH3OS lacks the safety net that is CO2. VaporPH3OS is pure phosphine gas in a cylinder. It takes a special machine, the HDS (Horn Diluphos System) to safely dilute the gas with oxygen to a safe operating concentration of 10,000 ppm. Along with that special equipment, ongoing stewardship and equipment maintenance is necessary.

As with any fumigation, most of the effectiveness comes from the preparation. If you take your time in ensuring your structure is sealed as gas tight as possible, you’re going to have a much better fumigation than simply putting gas in and crossing your fingers. A fumigation isn’t just some magic bean you can throw into a bin or ground pile, and it miraculously takes care of your problem, no, there is work to be done long before gas is introduced. Care must be taken to treat your structure like a cup filled with water…how do we seal all the holes in it, to ensure no water (gas really) leaks out if it were flipped upside down? You can seal the vents, exhausters, fans, and fill spouts externally with tape and 4 mil poly sheeting, or you can enter the bin and tarp the grain mass. Both are long, arduous, and tedious processes…but done correctly and your concentrations will stay high, and the effectiveness of your treatment will go up.

That’s what we all want, right?! You’ve put all this effort in to ensuring you yield the best price per bushel all season, why fall short on the tail end?! Long before any seed went into the ground you took steps ensuring proper water retention and added field drainage if necessary…that cost money, but it was worth it to maximize your yield. You cultivated the soil ensuring it was ready and in its best shape to yield the most bushels per acre…that cost money but was worth it. You planted the seed and then used herbicides to ensure they wouldn’t choke out the seedlings and steal nutrients from them…that cost money, but it was worth it. After harvesting you had a surplus, so you conditioned it and are binning it away…fumigating it costs money, but it will be worth it. Don’t fall short of the goal line (sorry…it’s football season!) by not treating your commodity. A proper fumigation with cylinderized fumigants will help ensure the best carryover for you and your crop. Let’s work together to protect your investment!