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Grants spur safeguards

CHERYL TEVIS 11/14/2012 @ 9:57am Cheryl has been an editor at Successful Farming since 1979.

Christina Winch traded her life as a vo-ag instructor 11 years ago for the life of a Fennimore, Wisconsin, dairy producer. She and husband Peter grow corn and alfalfa hay and rotationally graze 180 cows on 405 acres. Their most precious crop is their three sons: Randy, 9; Wes, 7; and Matt, 5.

When Christina read about a chance at a $2,500 Operation FarmSafe Grant in Successful Farming magazine, she seized the opportunity.

“We talk safety to our sons,” she wrote in her grant application. “It would be nice to practice what we preach.”

Thanks to a Certified Safe Farm (CSF) review and safety fixes made possible by the grant (both funded by Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance), the Winches are closer to achieving their safety objectives.

“Part of our land is only accessible from a state highway, so when we're making hay, hauling manure, or chopping silage, we spend a fair amount of time on the road on our equipment,” Christina says.

Their house is located a quarter mile up a lane from the barn, so the boys often stay at the work site if both parents are there.

LaMar Grafft, rural safety and health specialist at Iowa's Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, conducted the on-site CSF review in early July.

A rollover-protective structure (ROPS) for an IH 706 tractor was the Winches' top priority; it's used to rake hay on their mostly rolling acres.

Finding a ROPS wasn't easy. Christina's uncle, who restores IH tractors, located one in Missouri and picked it up at the Red Power Round-up in Du Quoin, Illinois. Peter met him in Rockford.

“We had to make sure that the used ROPS was IH-certified,” Peter says. The Winches installed it themselves.

Total cost for the ROPS, combined with a new seat and fenders: $2,200.

“We put some of our own money into it because it's so important,” Christina says. They also replaced the SMV emblem and master shield, and they added a mirror.

New equipment lighting and marking were major goals. “If an implement blocks the tractor lights, is wider than a tractor, or extends more than 20 feet behind a tractor, it needs lighting and marking,” Grafft says.

The Winches ordered several SMV signs for $10 to $15 each and two sets of remote-controlled, wireless magnetic lights for $309 each (866/889-8386, www.easyontaillights.com). One set is used on a round bale trailer, but it can be moved to other implements and wagons without any tools. “These lights are a smart investment for farmers,” Christina says.

They followed Grafft's suggestion to mark the flow direction on all of their hydraulic lines. “We used colored electrical tape, and the kids got involved with cutting the tape,” Christina says.

They also blocked bin ladders to discourage kids' climbing. “It's simple to cut a piece of plywood slightly wider than the ladder, mount hooks toward the top, and hang it on the ladder,” Grafft says. “A hole near the bottom provides an easy way to latch the board in place.”

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