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February 27, 2014 |

Review safety tips for working around bins and silos

Farming consistently ranks as one of the most hazardous job occupations and according to the Ohio State University Extension Farm Safety and Health program, on average, 26 Ohio farm workers lose their lives to production agriculture each year.

Grain bins present one of those farm hazards where we occasionally hear tragic stories of lives lost due to grain engulfment or from being overcome from toxic vapors. Flowing grain acts much like quicksand and can rapidly trap or bury a person. Even if a person is not buried or suffocated by the grain, the weight of the grain and its flowing nature make it almost impossible to escape without assistance.

Grain bin safety week is Feb. 23-March 1. Take a moment to review safety tips for working around grain bins and silos. If you have not already done so, take some time to develop an emergency rescue plan in case someone should get trapped in a grain bin. That plan should include: Who do you call in case of emergency? Who are your emergency team members and what are their roles? Is your local emergency response team familiar with your operation?

Some safety tips from the OSU Extension Farm Safety and Health program for growers when working with grain bins and silos include:

Stay out of the grain bin if possible.

Never enter a grain bin when the unloading equipment is on, even if the grain isn't flowing.

Never enter a grain bin alone. If entry into the bin is necessary, always have at least one observer outside the bin, and make sure all augers are turned off. One person is to enter the bin and the others should remain outside in case an emergency occurs. Always use a body harness with a lifeline secured to the outside of the bin.

Wear an N-95 respirator when working around the grain, as it keeps 95 percent of the dust and other pollutants from the grain from entering into the worker's lungs.

Don't enter a bin that has automatic unloading equipment without first locking out power to the equipment.

Be cautious around out-of-condition grain, including grain caked to walls. Dangers result from molds, blocked flow, cavities, crusting and grain avalanches.

Lock doors, gates and discharge chutes of any grain storage units.

Keep kids out of grain wagons, carts and semi beds.

Block ladders and egress points (for example a ladder guard) to limit kids' access.

IPM scouting program enrollment

Enrollment in the Wayne County Extension integrated pest management (IPM) scouting program is being accepted for the 2014 growing season. The crop scouting involves trained pest management scouts walking grower fields once a week as they scout for problem weeds, insects and diseases. These scouts provide a written report on crop growth stage along with any potential pest problems. If a pest is at an economic threshold level, recommendations are provided to treat the pest. Crop scouting is available for alfalfa, corn, soybeans, commercial vegetable crops and fruit.

The IPM scouting program is primarily self-funded. There is a fee to enroll in the program that includes a base fee per farm plus a per acreage charge. There are discounts for large acreages of any single crop. More information about the scouting program, program fees and enrollment forms can be found on the Wayne County Extension website at:, then click on the IPM heading or contact the Extension office by phone at 330-264-8722.

Wayne County Area Food Resource Bank project

Members of the Wayne County Area Food Resource Bank gathered recently at Das Dutch Kitchen in Dalton to celebrate another successful year. This project brings together a number of our local farmers, Ag businesses and other interested folks who dedicate a portion of their time, land and resources to provide knowledge, technology and capital seed money to small landholder farmers in some of the poorest countries in the world. Over $30,000 was raised by the Wayne County area project in 2013. The growing projects selected this year are located in Zambia and Colombia.

In Choma, Zambia, rainfall is limited to a short, five-month period every year. The Food Resource Bank is helping farmers in this area with new water catchment systems, crop diversification and enhanced grain storage facilities. Time proven techniques in dry land farming are refined to increase crop yields: small holes are dug into the field in September and filled with compost, awaiting the first rains in November. This practice allows seasonal rains to infiltrate the soil rather than running off and also improves seed germination and plant growth. Improved animal husbandry practices are also stressed.

Wayne County Area Food Resource Bank is hoping to increase membership in the 2014 crop year. Anyone interested in becoming a part of the 2014 growing project, please contact Dean Falb at 330- 682-3185.

Rory Lewandowski is an OSU Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.

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