Farm Fuel Tanks: A Guide for Fuel Storage Tanks for Farms

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Farm Fuel Tanks: A Guide for Fuel Storage Tanks for Farms

Operating a farm requires the maintenance of large barns to house livestock and store crops. Running out of fuel is not an option if you intend to be profitable and remain in business. Fuel storage tanks are an essential piece of equipment for many farms. They allow farmers to store fuel on site, which can then be used to power farm machinery or vehicles. A range of fuel tanks are available, and each type has its own benefits and drawbacks. 

This guide will discuss the different types of farm fuel tanks in order to help you decide which one is right for your farm.

What Are Farm Fuel Tanks and Why Are They Used?

Farm fuel tanks are typically large, heavy-duty tanks that are used to store fuel. They can be made of steel, fiberglass, polyethylene or plastic polypropylene, and they can hold from 20 gallons to 20,000 gallons of fuel. Farm fuel tanks are used to store gasoline, diesel, and other farm-use fuels, but they can also be used to store non-potable water, chemicals, and other farm supplies.

Fuel storage tanks may be in a shed or garage to protect them from the sun and damage from operating machinery. Some farm fuel tanks are above ground, while others are buried underground. The fuel stored in these tanks is often used to power generators, tractors, trucks, and other farm equipment, as well as to heat farm buildings and provide electricity for lights and appliances. 

Farm fuel tanks are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which sets standards for the manufacture, installation, and use of farm fuel tanks.

The Different Types of Farm Fuel Tanks

There are three main categories of farm fuel tanks: above ground, on ground and portable.

Above Ground

Most above ground tanks are made of steel and are considered more durable than industrial plastic. A stand, often made of wood or metal, is required to keep them upright, although concrete or other non-corrosive material is preferable. Another benefit of overhead tanks is that they don't require a pump, since the force of gravity helps them eliminate the need for one. However, maintenance is more difficult and access is limited due to the presence of a ladder. They're also less mobile than subterranean tanks. Since storage capacity varies from 50 to 500 gallons, these types of tanks are best suited to farms with smaller fuel requirements.

On Ground

Tanks that sit on the ground offer better stability, do not require ladders to access, there's no risk of tank toppling over, no risk of corrosion and they are a sturdier option all around. They’re also easier to relocate if necessary. On ground fuel tanks are generally made of plastic and may be damaged faster than a steel tank stored above ground level.


Portable tanks are transportable, as well as those that can be pulled by hand. They range in capacity from 12 gallons to 500 gallons.

There are also applications for below ground farm fuel storage, but these tanks are primarily used in gas stations and large businesses operating delivery fleets.

How to Maintain Stored Fuel

The type of fuel determines its shelf life. For example, gasoline has a three- to six-month shelf life, while diesel can survive for up to a year before degrading. Organic-based ethanol, on the other hand, loses its combustibility in one to three months due to oxidation and evaporation. Be sure you are aware of these differences so you don't store more fuel than can be effectively used within its timeframe.


Three things can happen to the separate components in gas over time: they can split apart, degrade or evaporate. When these individual processes occur within gas, it becomes less efficient and useful until it eventually does damage to an engine if used. 

However, this process happens gradually – it's not as though regular gasoline immediately becomes dangerous after 30 days.

It's generally agreed that gasoline should be used within a year after being stored. With additives you may stretch that out a bit, but it's a good rule of thumb to cycle through your fuel at least once every six months for optimum quality.


Diesel fuel has a shelf life of six to twelve months on average. Treating it with fuel stabilizers and biocides, on the other hand, can extend its shelf life beyond the 12-month mark (even under ideal conditions). This is only true for diesel fuel– ethanol blends and bio-diesel blends have distinct storage guidelines/limitations.

Regulations for Farm Fuel Tanks

Facilities with above ground storage tanks (ASTs) holding oils of any kind may be subject to the U.S. EPA's Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Regulation (40 CFR Part 112). The SPCC regulation does not specifically use the term AST, but rather includes ASTs under the term bulk storage container. 


There are many regulations to follow, and this is just a brief summary. Refer to the link above for more information.

  • The farm fuel tank must be registered with the Department of Agriculture, and the farm fuel storage tanks must be properly labeled.
  • The farm fuel tank must also be inspected monthly, and the farm fuel storage tanks must be cleaned out every three years.
  • The farm fuel tank must be located in a well-ventilated area, and must be made of a material resistant to corrosion.

These regulations are put in place to ensure that farm fuel tanks are safe and sound, and to protect the environment from potential contamination.

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