Harvest time preparations and safety

Farm Forum

By the looks of our crops, and the reports from across the country, we are in for an abundant harvest. This brings me to think of the upcoming volume of grain and the “rush” to get it all gathered before winter.

Machines: It is a given to have all the major harvest equipment ready to go and well maintained. It seems likely that you may have an opportunity to use every truck, wagon, auger, and grain bin on the place. I encourage you to check these items over as well for any obvious flaws or repairs and maintenance they may need. They will be forced into service at a time when: 1.) The elevator is closed or can’t take anymore grain and you have the combine full. 2.) It is, of course, dark and clouds are rolling in. 3.) A truck is broke down on the road and needs to be emptied to move. As you all know, many other bizarre scenarios can happen at the least opportune time. Take a little time.

Personnel: Is your labor staff trained, or seasoned in to the demands forthcoming? Without scaring them away, invest some time into familiarizing everyone with the timing & logistics of the harvest process. Encourage suggestions and/or ideas that coworkers may have to improve on a part of the process. Is your team cross trained? Long hours equal fatigue. Is it possible people can swap tasks for a bit during the day? This may slow things down a bit for one trip, but may help break the monotony of a long day. Have adequate lighting around binsites, and auxiliary flashlights at hand. Weather, volatile markets, and equipment or people not performing to expectations can certainly be stressors. Many of these events are out of your control, but how you deal with them and minimizing the adverse stress is up to you. This can be a whole column on its own. Fatigue plus stress is an unsafe combination. Take a breath before unloading frustrations on those you need the most. Take a little time.

Drive Safely: On a recent morning, I drove in some heavy fog. Knowing it was silage chopping season, I kept my attention on high for trucks. Please remind everyone in your household, workplace, and friends of the dangers of large equipment entering roadways and possibly traveling at speeds in which you can quickly overtake them. Be cautious entering an intersection. Could they have intentions of turning? Even if the approaching vehicle is supposed to stop or yield for you, it may not get stopped. It will soon be dark early in the evenings. Please have your SMV emblems visible, and lights working. Concentration; A common emblem on a machine is “Keep All Shields in Place” for the obvious reason of preventing contact with moving parts. Think of your mind as a rotating belt or chain. Keep the “shield” on your attention capacity by minimizing distractions of mobile devices. Fatigue+Stress+Distracted Driving = Disaster! Take a little time. As my elders often said, “Be careful. We don’t have time for a funeral!”