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Six simple tips for a safe harvest season

By on October 10, 2022 0

Editor’s Note: The following was written by Iowa State University Extension Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Program Specialist Ben Covington, Agricultural Technology Program Coordinator Ryan W. Bergman, and Matt Darr, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, for the September 27 Integrated Crop Management Blog.

Safety should be a top concern for all farmers during harvest, but as the season progresses it can be easy to miss details or overlook safe practices that can put you or your family at risk. ‘other people. Here are six simple safety tips to maintain throughout the season to protect you and your crew from danger.

1. Keep the guards, mirrors and windows of your machine clean both inside and outside the field.

Grain carts are one of the most used pieces of equipment during harvest, but they also have the greatest potential for blind spots. With few lights at the rear of the truck and large areas of obstructed visibility, it is important to keep available safety devices in good working order. Check your truck’s turn signals and brake lights before leaving each field to ensure safe operation on the road.

Be sure to regularly wipe dust or debris from the safety reflectors, lights and mirrors of your harvesting equipment, both in the field and on the road. If your grain cart or cart is not equipped with turn signals, a magnetic strobe light can be used to make your implement more visible from behind in low light situations.

Keep window cleaner and paper towels or rags in your cabin to clean your machine daily and avoid accidents that can occur from not seeing a car or other obstacle in the road.

2. Inspect your PTO safety screens for all operations.

The power take-off (PTO) can cause serious injury if proper safety precautions are not taken. Never step over the cardan shaft, either when it is running or when it is not working. This includes a combination tractor and grain cart, combine head PTO shafts, and tractors attached to an auger that could operate on a silo site. It’s always best to take a few extra seconds and walk around the gear.

Inspect the PTO shaft guards each season. With the tractor/combine off and the key stowed in the operator’s pocket, use one hand to rotate the shield 360°. If the shield can rotate without stopping or rotating the power train, the shield is working properly. If the guard snags or chafes at any time, the guard should be repaired or replaced before being returned to service.

Remember to also check the PTO shafts on the combine head to prevent the crop from getting tangled around the shaft.

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3. Watch out for stones and other debris in cultivated fields.

Be careful when harvesting your fields and watch out for stones or other large debris that could seriously damage your machinery and slow down your harvest. If you encounter a clog in your corn head, follow this procedure to safely remove it:

  • Stop the combine and back up a few feet so the combine head is above the harvested crop.
  • Bring the combine threshing element to a slow idle speed.
  • Open the deck plates as wide as possible.
  • Using the diverter for the head, lightly press the diverter several times to see if clogged material dislodges. If the material does not come off, stop operating the head. Constant head operation can damage the friction clutch, making it weak and creating excessive heat.
  • Follow the combine lockout procedure before working around or under a raised combine head. Make sure all hydraulics and shafts are removed from combine and safety cylinder block/stops are applied.
  • Using cut-resistant gloves, grab a handful of material at a time and slowly begin pulling it off the stripping rollers. Be careful – debris lodged in the stopper rollers can be sharp.

4. Be aware of your crew’s location.

A good practice is to honk the combine or tractor horn three times before starting the machine or engaging components so that other members of your crew know the machine is in motion and to give them time to get move away and move away. moving parts.

5. Check your tow cables and chains when extracting stuck equipment.

Although not all areas of the state have this problem every season, it is important to know how to stay safe when removing a stuck tractor or combine.

If possible, use tow ropes in good condition instead of chains. If only chains are available, inspect them to make sure both ends are in good condition and the chain itself has no broken, bent, or weak links. Make sure the machine you are pulling with and the chain are large enough to tow the weight of the stuck machine.

Never stand between a stuck vehicle and the implement towing it. Chains and ropes can break and seriously injure anyone in their path. It is best to stay away and communicate with the equipment operator using cell phones or two-way radios.

6. Be aware of your mental health and seek help if needed.

Mental health is a growing concern in agriculture and the farming community, and harvest season can cause additional stress. Be aware of your own mental health, as well as that of your employees, colleagues and family. For help with stress, disaster relief, and legal issues, visit or call 1-800-447-1985.

Continue to follow these practices throughout the harvest season. By using these tips and staying aware of your surroundings, you can protect yourself, your investment and others on the road and in the field for a safe harvest season.