Rawlins County

Category: Agriculture

Harvest Safety

Q: Harvest is nearly here, launching farmers into one of their busiest times of year. There are some common sense tips that all community members can follow to help keep us safe during this busy time.
A: Farm Safety affects us all and should be taken seriously year round, but becomes even more crucial as we gear up for harvest. Some workers may be young, new or inexperienced, so it’s always a good idea to review safety considerations and reinforce the importance of safety on the farm. In addition, not all drivers on our roadways are used to sharing the road with large equipment or grain trailers.
Safety Tips for Farmers:
• Stay alert. Take breaks — get out of the cab and walk around every few hours. Keep your cell phone charged so you can communicate as needed when you need wagons moved, etc.
• Shut down before working on a machine. If the combine becomes clogged, shut off the motor, not just the header, before attempting to unplug it by hand.
• Know where your co-workers and family members are. Visibility is poor around large machinery and at night. Many deaths are the result of bystanders or family members being run over or crushed between machines.
• Never trust hydraulic systems when working under a machine. Always use a safety prop if you must work under a header or other heavy machinery.
• Never step over a rotating PTO. A few extra steps to walk around the tractor aren’t worth losing your life over.
• Never stand on grain that is being moved. Every year people “drown” in grain carts and grain bins that are being emptied. Keep all kids away from grain hauling equipment.
• Keep grain auger grates and shields in place. Be sure your equipment is properly maintained to avoid breakdowns.
• If you must move machinery on a roadway after dark, have all necessary working headlights and flashing front and rear warning lights. The better you can be seen the less likely you are to be hit by a motorists.

Safety Tips for Rural Residents:
• Remember to be watchful on county roads during harvest. A car going 50 mph coming up behind a farm implement moving at 15 mph closes at a rate of over 50 feet per second.
• Don’t pull out in front of farm vehicles. Heavily loaded trucks and grain trailers can’t stop as quickly as a passenger car.
• Be aware of Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) signs. Farmers place these triangular signs on the back of slow moving tractors and wagons. Know to slow down when you see them.
• Watch out! Trucks and farm equipment may be entering the roadway from field lanes in places where you wouldn’t normally expect them. Be extremely cautious when passing farm equipment as it could be making a left turn you are not expecting.
• Give them room. Combines, tractors, wagons, trucks and tillage equipment are big and wide and take up nearly all of a rural roadway. When overtaking a combine, give the farmer time to see you and to find a place where he/she can pull over and make room for you to pass. Never try to pass a combine or other implement on the shoulder of the road and never attempt to pass until the driver is aware of your presence.
• Harvest activity can disturb deer causing them to be on the move during times of the day they are usually lying down. Be especially alert for deer during harvest.

Proposed Changes to Private Pesticide Applicator Licensing

Q: I have heard of new rules for private pesticide applicators. What changes are potentially being made?
A: The EPA has proposed new rules for those getting Private and Commercial Pesticide Applicators licenses. The final set of rules will likely not take affect for some time, however the time to comment on the proposed rules is now until November 23, 2015.
Among the proposed changes, a few to note are:
• Establishment of a first time-ever nation-wide minimum age of 18 for certified applicators and persons working under their direct supervision. Currently there is no age limit for private applicators in KS.
• Requirement for all applicators to renew certifications every 3 years. Currently this is every 5 years for private applicators in KS.
• Requirement for additional specialized certifications for private applicators using high-risk application methods (fumigation and aerial). Currently there is no specialized certification for this in KS.
• Requires first time annual safety training and increased oversight for persons working under the direct supervision of a certified applicator. Private applicators will be required to pass a written, closed book-proctored exam for certification. Currently private applicators exams are open book in KS.
• The credit hours or CEU’s required for applicators will increase: Private applicators-6 general core CEU’s + 3 CEU’s per category of certification (currently no training is required for Private applicators in KS). Commercial applicators-6 general core CEU’s + 6 CEU’s per category of certification (currently 1 core hour is required +7 per category for most categories in KS)
To read more go to http://www2.epa.gov/pesticide-worker-safety/epa-proposes-stronger-standardspeople-applying-riskiest-pesticides. If you wish to comment, follow the link to docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0183.

Will nitrates be a problem in winter feedstuffs this year?

Q: Will nitrates be a problem in winter feedstuffs this year?

A: Generally we associate the danger of high levels of nitrates in forages such as sorghum-sudangrass, forage sorghum, sudangrass, proso millet or foxtail millet with drought. During the normal growth process, the plant brings nitrogen in through the roots and uses it to create new plant tissue. If some type of stress prevents or severely slows that process, then the nitrate begins to accumulate in the plant. The stress could be from drought, fertility imbalance, hail or a freeze. This can be a temporary condition depending on the timing of the stressor and conditions that follow. The nitrate that is present at the time of harvest or a killing freeze will remain in the plant as it dries. If livestock consume enough of the high nitrate feed it can cause abortion or death.

It is hard to make any global statements about potential toxicity levels in these species this year because of the wide range in planting times, soil fertility, and timing and amount of rainfall received. It is a prudent management decision to check for nitrates every year before feeding since the cost of the test is so low compared to the consequences of dead animals or lost pregnancies.

When submitting the forage sample for nitrate testing also have it tested for crude protein and energy (TDN). Use the analysis of forage quality so that the highest quality hay can be used when the need is greatest (i.e., during lactation for cows) and that appropriate levels of supplementation can be provided as needed. If nitrate levels are high, forages can often be ground and mixed with a low nitrate hay to dilute the nitrate to a safe level. The saying ‘you can’t manage what you don’t measure’ certainly applies in this situation.

If you have questions about forage testing or nitrates in feedstuffs, contact Sandy Johnson, Extension Beef Specialist for K-State Research and Extension at 785-462-6281 or sandyj@ksu.edu.