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State urges safety during harvest

The state of Indiana is urging farmers to take special precautions during harvest season this year, as the drought has created some additional risks.

There are several typical precautions the state Department of Agriculture advises farmers to take during harvest season, such as getting enough sleep, taking frequent breaks and double-checking equipment safety measures. 

But with almost every corner of the state heavily affected by severe drought, Purdue agronomist Bob Nielsen says there are more concerns this year.  He says, despite increased rain in recent weeks, field fires are still a real possibility.

“You know, when it’s been as dry as it’s been, there’s always that risk,” Nielsen said. “Everyone needs to be aware of it, not just farmers.”

Nielsen says many crops have already died and begun decomposing because of the drought.  That creates increased dust and mold that could be harmful to farmers.

“So the risks in terms of human safety is harvesting all day, being around all that dust and fungal activity and breathing it in,” Nielsen said.

Nielsen says farmers need to make sure the air filters in the combine cabins are working well and, in extreme conditions, they should consider wearing respirator masks.