SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Department of Agriculture and the state’s Fertilizer and Chemical Association are urging farmers and fertilizer dealers to be safe when applying anhydrous ammonia to plants. The fertilizer is essential to crop development but also can cause serious injury and harm to the environment when it isn’t applied properly. Department of Agriculture officials say inadequately managing ammonia hoses, failing to maintain safety devices and improperly securing tanks are among the leading causes of accidents. Officials say accidents can be prevented with proper equipment maintenance and transporting tanks no faster than 25 miles an hour on public roadways. The Illinois Agronomy Handbook also recommends waiting until soil temperatures drop to 50 degrees at the 4-inch level and will continue to drop to apply ammonia.