Top Tips for Fuel Tank Replacement

Unpredictable, potentially harsh winter weather can change quickly across Canada’s prairies. Farmers and ranchers are experts at protecting their farm assets – stored grain, livestock, equipment and buildings – against an “often-wily” Mother Nature; but, what about their on-farm fuel storage tanks?  

As one of the farm’s most weather-exposed assets, the fuel storage tank seldom makes the winter prep checklist and is left standing out in the cold – season after season. 

  • Are your tanks winning the battle against Mother Nature?  
  • Are tank vents free of ice and snow? Is water lurking in them? 
  • Are they showing rust and corrosion?  
  • Are you paying for multiple re-fill charges? Or could you be storing fuel in a safer, more protective and cost-effective manner? 

AGI’s fuel tank and farm equipment experts – Brian Bateman, Director of Sales for AGI Liquid Division, and Jason Hawman, AGI Product Manager-Petroleum – say it may be time to evaluate your on-farm fuel storage or consider a new purchase in 2024.  

“Fuel tanks often get ignored until there is a problem. The truth is Mother Nature puts major wear and tear on a fuel tank. Over time, chipping, fading, scratching and exposure to sunlight, wind and moisture will degrade a tank. In a worse-case scenario, this puts contents at risk or exposes them to the environment,” says Bateman.

As one of North America’s leading manufacturers of liquid storage products, the AGI Westeel® brand has produced high quality, long-lasting steel tanks for more than 80 years. AGI produces a full line of ULC-listed stationary double- and single-wall, aboveground fuel storage tanks for farm use and a vast range of standard and custom-built solutions for industrial and commercial use for water, fuel and secondary containment.  

Aboveground fuel storage tanks are well-suited for the farm and ranch environment. Typically, they are long-lasting, cost-effective to install, easy to monitor and manage for refueling and environmentally friendly in their construction and the user’s ability to inspect for damage, corrosion and leaks. There are, however, some distinguishing traits that farmers and ranchers should know when evaluating existing tank conditions and considering future storage needs. 

  • Future-proof tanks: Not all tanks are created equally. Many farms use the wrong type of tank.  

“There are options out there when it comes to on-farm fuel storage. Not all are fabricated for fuel, many are intended for water. By buying a ULC tank, you can ensure that the fittings are proper and safety measures are in place that are best practices,” says Bateman, noting that AGI Westeel fuel tanks are ULC-fabricated to meet/exceed national environmental and hazardous liquids regulations for long-lasting, safe storage of flammable or combustible liquids.  

  • Right Size: Tank size and capacity matter. On-farm fuel storage needs to deliver value to the operation’s economic bottom line. While a new tank purchase requires an investment, a small tank can cause inefficiencies and unanticipated costs. 

“Fuel is an expensive but necessary farm input cost,” says Hawman. “When you look at economies of scale, a larger tank allows farmers to take advantage of lower fuel prices. And, if you have a growing operation or fleet of equipment, you want to consider larger sized tanks.” 

  • Fight Mother Nature: Weather and corrosion are fuel tank enemies. Surface coatings play a vital role in protecting tanks against weather and climate. 

“That is why having a corrosion resistant coating on single and dual wall fuel tanks is so important. It adds a superior layer of worry-free protection,” says Hawman, noting that all AGI Westeel fuel tanks are powder coated for extra durability.  

  • Ensure safety: Aging, rusty or corroded tanks create safety risks for people and environment. In western Canada, there are 1,000s of aging overhead gravity flow tanks sitting on rusted or inadequately designed stands.

Gravity tank nozzles can present other farm and environmental risks. 

“If you accidentally drive away with a nozzle, the tank’s contents continue to drain onto the ground. With today’s fuel prices and increasing regulations, it is not worth the risk,” notes Hawman. 

Beyond safety, time is a consideration for farmers. While the advantage of a gravity flow tank is eliminating a pump, it is also much slower in delivering fuel. This adds time to refueling which comes at a cost. So, at the next purchase, farmers should consider safety and efficiency as benefits for moving to a cradle tank.

  • Retire the rust: Because fuel tanks last a long time, a best practice is to retire aging tanks that are corroded beyond repair. Fuel tanks tend to be the last thing a farmer thinks about when they are looking at their entire farm system. 


According to Bateman and Hawman, a good first step is to add fuel storage to the farm’s annual maintenance and possible replacement checklist. They recommend following these tank tips: 

    1. Check vents for blockages due to ice and snow.
    2. Examine exteriors for rust that can be fixed with rust-resistant paints. 
    3. Review and repair worn hoses and threads on the tank. 
    4. Check tanks and surrounding soil for leaks or ruptures.  
    5. Reach out to a reliable supplier between re-fills to assess internal tank conditions for rust and moisture.
    6. Remove water collected inside tanks. 

  • Plan proactively: And, if it is time for a replacement, start planning now. 

Replacing agricultural fuel tanks can require a substantial investment in terms of equipment, construction costs and downtime. Fortunately, rust does not happen overnight allowing for ample time to plan and budget.

When making purchase choices, consider the following:

  • ULC-listed: Choose a tank certified by the Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC). ULC tanks are designed to withstand Canadian winters and weather conditions and constructed according to recognized safety standards to ensure structural integrity for human and environmental safety.
  • Durability: When considering single- or double-wall construction, weigh long-term investment against the farm’s storage needs and geographic and climate conditions. Double-wall tanks have an added containment layer with a gauge to monitor the vacuum between layers.
  • Future-proof: Think long-term. Plan tank size and capacity to fit the farm’s 5-year fuel needs. Include accessories needed for best performance. 
  • Protection: Protect with powder coating. It is one of toughest surface treatments for resilience against weather and climate impacts. 
  • Safety: Retire old overhead tanks on rusted leg mounts. A tank on the ground is always safer than one in the air.

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