Safeguard home base
Norbert and Delbert Soltwedel know that farming together for 40 years takes teamwork. The Shumway, Illinois, brothers, along with their wives, Linda and Bev, raised their families across the road from each other. Delbert's son, David, joined the operation in 2005. Norbert's son, Kraig, and his wife, Jodie, also are involved in the farm. Together, they grow 2,300 acres of corn, soybeans, and winter wheat. David feeds 600 head of hogs on contract.
The Soltwedels also know that safety is a team effort. “We believe we're safety-conscious,” Norbert says. “But with so many family members working together, communication sometimes is lacking. We have a lot of buildings and equipment. We probably overlook hazards and safety procedures.”
Thanks to Operation FarmSafe, the Soltwedels have taken steps to safeguard the next generation. Norbert read an article about Operation FarmSafe in Successful Farming magazine and decided to apply for a grant. The Soltwedels are one of four families selected to receive a free Certified Safe Farm (CSF) review and $2,500 in safety improvements funded by Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance.
Kraig and Jodie have three children: Alivia, 6, Addyson, 5, and Ayden, 3. David and his wife, Kristine, are parents of five: Rhett, 11, Shelby, 6, Sierra, 4, Sydney, 3, and Wyatt, 4 months.
“Our other grandchildren love to visit,” Norbert says. “They have inquisitive minds. We need to provide safeguards.”
The Soltwedels have one employee, Jake Herrmann, who is in charge of maintenance. They also employ short- and long-term international student guest trainees.
The review was conducted by LaMar Grafft, rural safety and health specialist at Iowa's Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH). Developed by I-CASH, the review is used by safety and health organizations in other states. It's confidential and unrelated to any regulatory agency.
Following the July review, the Soltwedels set to work building a new fence around the manure pit ($550). They began replacing SMV emblems, adding bin and silo ladder guards to prevent the kids from climbing, and repairing electrical cords. Because of the grant, they no longer use a block of wood as a jack. They purchased a new jack stand support for $45.
Grafft red-tagged a 4320 John Deere tractor. It lacked a ROPS and seat belt, master PTO shield, bypass starter cover, SMV, and left side mirror. “Tractor rollovers account for 20% to 25% of all farm fatalities,” he says. “If a tractor is used on a road or in a field, it should have a ROPS.”
The Soltwedels bought three fire extinguishers for $330 and recharged older ones. They ordered a PTO shield ($290) for the liquid manure spreader and built a handrail for the stairway to the overhead shop storage. “We put two ground fault circuit interrupters in the shop, and we'll add breakers,” David says.