I talked about preparing for silage season back in the July edition of the Buckeye Dairy News. Well, the time for preparation is dwindling and the time for harvest is here. Harvest can be stressful and tiring, but amidst the quick pace of the operation, it is also important to slow down and take inventory of the risks around you. Many accidents can be prevented by being cognizant of the equipment that is being run and the spaces you are working in.
Upright silos do carry a confined space categorization and do pose a risk of death if not careful. Confined spaces can be defined as a space where only one person has very limited room to work and just enough space for entry and exit. Many times, confined spaces also have poor ventilation. The Ohio State Factsheet AEX 591.5.1 “Silo Safety” goes into depth on the safety precautions to take when working in and around silos, especially silos that have just been filled with freshly chopped corn.
The factsheet specifically discusses nitrogen dioxide, the toxic gas that is produced by the plant matter as it begins the fermentation process. The gas can seep from cracks and gaps in silo floors or walls and can be detected for 48 hours after ensiling. Some cases have demonstrated nitrogen dioxide seepage for up to 3 weeks after ensiling. This toxic gas has a bleach-like smell and a rusty or yellow hue. Given the gas is heavier than atmospheric air, it will be found nearest the ground or the top of the silage in the silo. We recommend that silos are not entered within the first 3 weeks of filling to prevent lung disease or death, but if it is absolutely necessary, wear a self-contained breathing apparatus. If you would like a copy of this fact sheet and the accompanying quiz to post on your farm or share with your employees, please give the Wayne County Extension Office a call at 330-264-8722 and I would be glad to provide them for you.
As another reminder, machinery and equipment will sporadically be on the roads for the next few months as harvest continues, so please have courtesy and respect for all those using the roads. Farm machinery should be labeled with the slow-moving vehicle emblem to alert drivers behind them to slow down and take caution. I also urge drivers to take plenty of care when approaching machinery on the roadway. If you must pass, give plenty of berth and make sure there is no oncoming traffic. Just last week, my friend’s fiancé was in an accident. He was operating a high clearance sprayer and was hit by a semi-truck. Thankfully no one was severely injured or killed, but the next accident may not have the same outcome. Please remember, the folks on the road are someone’s father, mother, sibling, son, or daughter. We all hope for everyone to return home at night, safe and sound.
With the Wayne County Fair right around the corner, I would like to draw your attention to several demonstrations (free of charge) that will be in the Grange Rotunda and may be of interest the agricultural community. On Monday, September 13 at 11:30 AM, Gregg Fogle (OSU Sheep Farm Manager) and Dr. Brady Campbell (OSU Small Ruminant Specialist) will be performing a sheep shearing demonstration. Ohio is heavily populated with sheep, and shearers are becoming more difficult to schedule. If you have a small flock at home, knowing how to shear can save you money and keep your flock healthy. On Tuesday, September 14 at 10:30 AM, Denise Ellsworth of the OSU Bee Lab will be discussing native bees and other pollinators and how we can conserve their habitats. Fruit and vegetable production is a large sector of Wayne County agriculture, and without busy little bees, the industry will be hurt. Additionally, on the 14th, at 11:30 AM, I will be demonstrating how to make a fresh cheese using both cow and goat milk. With such a quick and easy recipe, you’ll be sure to impress your next dinner guests. On Thursday, September 16 at 11:30 AM, our own Frank Becker will be discussing plant health management for the home garden. Knowing how to prevent insect damage and treat disease can positively impact your garden for a bountiful harvest.
Haley Zynda is an OSU Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.
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