Given that a lot of us are struggling to get corn in I thought I’d share this article from Successful Farmer on why waiting for things to dry out, even with as late as it is, is better than trying to mud in your seed. The article mainly focuses on yields and financial reasons for delaying, but there are safety reasons for waiting too. On the financial side, corn can still reach 100% of its yield if it’s planted in late May, and it’s possible to switch to shorter season seeds and get good yields planting even in early June. Planting when the ground is too wet can harm yields and we’re not at the point yet where time loss would affect yield worse than putting it in the ground when it’s too wet. On the safety side of things, mud can cause stuck equipment and make surfaces slick, which can in turn lead to injury. I know everything is wet and everyone is running late, and that can be incredibly frustrating, but the benefits of waiting until the field is dry enough outweigh the risks in terms of yield and in terms of safety.
Here is an article by Living the Country Life about avoiding fatigue during long days on the tractor. With planting season upon us, and especially given that a lot of us got a late start this year, there is a lot of pressure to spend every minute possible putting seed in the ground. No matter what your job is, taking a 10 minute break every few hours helps prevent mistakes. This is admittedly something I’m guilty of too. I spent 5 hours straight grading exams a week or so ago and then had to spend another 1 1/2 hours later in the week double checking some of my work because after about the 3 hour mark I started making mistakes. Tractor driving fatigue can result in less than optimal performance, and can also have serious consequences when it comes to safety. Recharging yourself mentally doesn’t take long. Either short 5 minute breaks every hour or longer 10-15 minute breaks every 2 or 3 hours is enough help clear your head, and can also help prevent back pain, hearing damage, and other issues associated with sitting in a loud vibrating environment for hours on end. You can also think of a tractor break as an opportunity to take care of other kinds of tasks. Make some phone calls, check the weather or markets, have some water or a snack, walk around and check your equipment (spotting problems early can also save time, save money, and improve safety). Taking a break from driving doesn’t mean that you have to sit and do nothing. In fact, doing something that involves getting up and moving around is better than doing nothing during a break.
Here is the link to the original article:
Continuing the theme of planting safety, I thought I’d share this article from Farm Progress about some of the hazards of seed coatings. These coatings can drastically improve yields, but some of them, especially some of the insecticides, aren’t good for people.
Click here for the Farm Progress article:
The first step of handling coated seeds safely is to make sure you read the labels of every type of seed before you use it. Even if you have used the same type of seed in previous years, it helps to double check to refresh your memory and to make sure nothing has changed. Different coatings require different levels of protection. Some coatings are safe to handle while others can cause short or long term health problems. Reading and following the instructions on the bag will prevent most problems that can come from handling coated seed.
The main way to avoid exposure to seed coatings is to protect yourself with long sleeves, chemical resistant gloves, and a respirator with an R or P type filter. The type of filter matters because each one contains a different set of layers and chemical treatments designed to neutralize a specific set of chemicals in the environment. Wearing a regular dust mask can improve comfort levels, but it won’t be able to filter out the free floating molecules that aren’t stuck to the larger pieces of dust.
Also, be careful how you deal with clothing that has been worn to handle seed. The dust and residue really sticks in clothing, so if you go from the field to the house you’re bringing all of that in with you and then it sticks around in your house. I have a classmate that studies secondary exposures to agricultural chemicals and unless everyone who handles chemicals changes and washes up every time they come in the house, she is able to detect them everywhere, including cooking surfaces, clothing, furniture, kids’ toys…Ideally if you can rinse your gloves outside before you take them off then have a way to change and take a shower before you go back in the house that’s best, but even changing into a different set of clothes in the mudroom or garage has a huge impact on the amount of residue being dragged in. Also, if you don’t do so already, make sure that outdoor clothes get washed separately from indoor clothes. Washing helps a lot, but short of a professional cleaning it’s impossible to get all of the residue out and anything that gets put in the same load winds up with some of the residue.
The other main method of reducing exposure is equipment maintenance. Well-maintained planters reduce the amount of dust that gets rubbed off of the seeds (which can be good for the seed too) and the less you need to stop and make repairs or adjustments, the less you’re exposed.
Here is another good article on planting safety from Farm Progress. This article focuses more on equipment and on the farmer. Doing a thorough check of equipment and replacing damaged parts before planting starts is a good way to prevent problems in the field. Putting together an emergency plan and making sure that your fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and emergency contact numbers are up to date is part of the preparation.
Also, even though planting season always a time crunch, don’t be in so big of a hurry to get started that you’re planting before the field is really ready for it. If you’ve had problems more than once from going into a particular field early in the season, that’s a big indicator to hold off a little longer . One thing that I’ve been finding in the reports coming in to the database is that poor environmental conditions like mud, icy surfaces, debris, and bad lighting are a contributing factor in many ag injuries. It isn’t mentioned much on the academic side of things (which is something I’d like to change) but from the data I’m getting, it seems like a lot of injuries could be prevented if people took more precautions when working in poor environmental conditions.
It’s also important for farmers to take care of themselves during planting season. There have been a half dozen or so studies at this point showing that getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night or sleeping poorly increases the risk for injury. Not eating enough or drinking enough water can also impact performance, as does working while sick. If the workload is more than you can mange without feeling sick or having to cut back on sleep, finding some temporary help for the busy season might be the answer. Even if the second person can’t plant, having someone that can help feed animals or haul supplies can help take some of the pressure off.
Click on the link below to see the article by Farm Progress:
Found a video of an interview on the PAFSafetyDays chanel of a news interview that goes over planting safety. This video mostly covers road safety and kids safety. I remember being taught when I was little and taking food and water out to the field to not go near a tractor or piece of equipment until it was off and until the driver saw me and called me over. To this day I haven’t had a close call involving someone not seeing me while equipment is running so in my case at least it was effective training. Not all kids listen that well though, so keeping close supervision until kids are old enough hand have demonstrated themselves to be responsible enough to not break the rules when someone isn’t watching is essential. As for road safety, I’d like to add that making sure your slow moving vehicle signs and lights are in good order is an important step to take before planting starts. I have a lot of classmates who do driving research and time and time again they find that better signage, brighter lights, and more obvious turn signals reduce the chance of getting hit substantially at any time of day.
With planting season around the corner, it’s a good time for farmers and other drivers to review some tips on road safety. One of the best things you can do to prepare for a safe planting season is to check that all of your lights and signals are working, and to replace any slow moving vehicle signs that are getting faded. I know a number of people who study rural driving safety, and they tell me that signs, lights, and signals make a huge difference in preventing collisions. The article below by Farm Bureau Financial Services provides a good summary of things to look for as you’re getting ready for spring.
If you find that you need some new signs, check out these ones from Road Traffic Signs .com:
With planting season coming up , I thought I’d share this video from Ag PhD’s Farm Basics series about spring road safety. While road safety is important all year long, long hours and big equipment during planting season presents unique challenges. The video lists some great strategies for farmers and for non-farmers to avoid collisions during planting season. One thing that wasn’t mentioned in the video is to make sure that your slow moving vehicle signs are in good condition as part of your planting preparations.