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Top Tips for Silage Safety

7-27-17 silage

Safety is a top priority here at the Patz Corporation. We want to ensure that our customers and dealers use proper safety techniques to keep safe.

Silage storage areas are one of several hazardous places on the farm. Silage is the cut up feed ingredients used to feed cattle. It is stored on the farm in a few different ways, silo towers, bunkers, silage bags, and piles.

Today’s blog will focus on silage piles and bunkers, seeing as they can be stacked very high and are not completely contained. A silage bunker is contained with walls usually on 3 sides. Silage piles are not contained. Both of these silage storage types are started with material that is flattened and then layered as the silage gets higher and wider. The pile is built vertically, and flattened down often to keep materials packed tightly.

Never build a silage area higher than what your machinery is capable of reaching. Do not approach the face of the silage unless you are in a vehicle. If you are not, stand 3 times the height of the pile away from the wall, so if there is a down rush of silage, you are far enough away that it won’t reach you. When collecting samples, have someone in a machine unload a section of silage for you a safe distance from the large pile. If standing on top of the silage, remain at least 3 feet from the edge, so if it does fall, you are not taken with it.

Work using the “buddy” system. If something unfortunate does occur, having a person close could prevent or lessen an accident. Be aware of toxic fumes that can sometimes occur with silage piles. If you see orange or brown gases, those are especially toxic – do not approach the silage until they have had time to fully dissipate.

Lastly, never let children around silage areas. Put up signs and have everyone on the farm reinforce this rule.

 

Sources:

“Preventing Silage-Related Injuries and Fatalities Among Farm Workers.” Virginia Tech Dairy Science

Radke, Amanda. “6 Silage Safety Guidelines to Remember.” Beef Magazine

The 5 Types of Irrigation Systems you Need to Know About

irrigation

You’ve planted your fields – now what? Seeds (and later, crops) need to be nourished and protected in the field. Depending on where you live, you may need to have some sort of irrigation set up in your fields. Systems should be efficient enough to get water where it needs to be without overwatering and creating runoff. Cost of water, the irrigation system, and any fuel or labor should also be considered in choosing which irrigation system would work best for you. The method and frequency of irrigation depends on the region you live in and weather patterns. If you live in a dry area, you may choose a permanent irrigation system, while if you get frequent rain, a supplemental system would be enough to help you out.

Center Pivot Irrigation Systems – This system is self-propelled, powered by water pressure, oil, or electricity. One side of the machine stays secure, and the other pivots around in a circle. This system is best for circle or square fields. There are additional nozzles that can be attached to the end for extra spray out to cover more ground.

Linear Move Irrigation Systems – Great for long fields, this system moves in a continuous, straight line down the field. It can cover several rows at once and is guided by either a cable or GPS, depending on how much you are willing to spend. However, for this system, the land needs to be fairly level to function properly. Linear systems can be ditch or hose-fed.

Traveling Gun Systems – Traveling gun systems are basically just large, movable sprinklers. The sprinkler unit is on a cart that is attached to a watering system. There are two main kinds.

Cable Tow Traveler: A hose is used to connect the source of water to the machine. There is some sort of engine needed to power the machine. The machine is then pulled with a cable towards a docking station. It gets pulled forward until it reaches the docking station, where it then stops.

Hose-Pull Traveler: This is a stationary machine that can be put in the field. It is attached to a hose that is unwound. As the machine moves, it winds up the hose, which moves the sprinkler portion of the machine

Solid set – Above ground piping with sprinklers attached, usually portable for maneuverability.

Permanent set irrigation systems – Pipes that are buried underneath the field that have sprinklers with risers to evenly water the crops. This system works for fairly dry areas that need consistent and even watering.

Micro Irrigation Systems – These systems are used mostly for efficiency. Water is distributed uniformly and at a low output rate to ensure water conservation. These systems tend to be more energy efficient as well, and since the area being water is hyper-focused, there are often fewer weed issues in fields with these systems. There are two main types of these systems.

Drip Irrigation Systems: Mainly used for orchard crops, the water drips gently out of the pipe onto a designated location.

Micro-Sprinkler: Similar to a Drip Irrigation system, this set up has very small sprinklers that spray a fine mist onto a designated area.

 

Sources:

Harrison, Kerry. “Factors to Consider in Selecting a Farm Irrigation System.” University of Georgia Extension

How to Avoid Spontaneously Combusting Hay (and other helpful tips)

7-13 hay safety

Baling hay is hard and hazardous work. There are several steps you can take to ensure that the whole process goes smoothly and safely.

Equipment – Know how it works, stay up to date on maintenance, and make sure it is running smoothly with all safety features properly working and attached. Review the manual beforehand if needed. Keep an extinguisher on or in your tractor in case of emergency. When cutting and baling, be sure to stay with the equipment. Go slow to prevent the machines from overworking, wheel issues against the land, and for general tractor safety. Be sure that the equipment you are using can handle the heavy loads of hay that will be coming through.

Field Work – Be aware of the location of any other machinery or people working near you to prevent accidents. When baling and stacking hay, stack carefully and evenly so bales don’t fall over and potentially land on anyone. Use proper technique to lift the heavy bales, and stop frequently for water and rest on those hot days. For more tips on how to stay cool, read our previous blog post here.

Baling – Picking the right time to cut and bale hay is a delicate art. Moisture levels in the hay greatly affect how dangerous a bale could potentially come. Wet hay tends to be hotter hay because of the chemical reactions that occur in the center of the bale building up heat. That heat intensifies, and because the bales are typically so densely tied, the heat doesn’t have a way to escape. Because of this, hay fires often occur quickly after the baling process – usually within 6 weeks. Any hay that has a moisture level of above 15% has the potential to get overheated and create issues. Weather, humidity levels, sun, and wind all play a part in moisture levels for the hay, both while being processed, and after when in storage. If hay isn’t processed correctly, it could potentially cause a barn fire.

Storage – Hay should be stored in a cool, dry location. Bales should be stored in a building without animals or equipment. Keep away from accelerants or open electrical circuits. This will decrease damages in case of a fire. Monitor the temperature frequently for the first few weeks after baling. The center of the bale should be below 150 degrees. If the temperature gets above that, monitor regularly to make sure it doesn’t continue to go up. If the central temperature hits 175 degrees or higher, call your local fire department.

 

Sources:

“Don’t Risk Hay Fires.” North Dakota State University

“Fire Prevention and Safety Measures Around the Farm.” Rutgers

McGuire, Kent. “Safety Considerations for Hay Baling Season.” The Ohio State University