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Safety tips during a dry harvest season

Dry field conditions have increased the possibility of some safety risks for this harvest season. 

Jesse Williams, a farmer in Osceola, Nebraska, and harvesting product specialist for Case IH, offers some tips to protect you and your machinery during harvest this year. 

Fire prevention

A drier harvest season means keeping your machinery clear of debris to prevent fire is more important than ever. Williams recommends using an air compressor or cordless leaf blower to blow out debris at least once a day. 

“It’s about knowing your machine, knowing where the pockets are where debris builds up, and trying to keep those areas clean,” says Williams. 

Make sure to check on your dry fire extinguishers to ensure they aren’t expired. Additionally, when fire extinguishers sit for a while, the material can sink to the bottom and get packed down. 

“One thing I recommend: Before you start harvest, unclamp [the extinguishers] from their mounts, turn them upside down, and then bump the bottom of them off the tire,” says Williams. “This helps break up the powder and keep it in the solution.”   

Field safety

When you start up your machine, blow the horn a couple times to let everyone in the area know you’re getting ready to work. This gives other people in the area the chance to move any cars or machinery out of the way. 

Anytime you aren’t in the cab, make sure you shut off the feeder and separator, says Williams. On most newer machines, the separator will shut off on its own, but if yours doesn’t, this minimizes the risk of a kid or worker getting injured by moving parts. Similarly, make sure to shut off the head whenever you leave the cab, as well. 

Road safety

When hitting the road with your ag machinery, it’s important to make sure your flashers and beacons are working properly. With all the dust in the air, Williams recommends making sure the slow moving vehicle sign is brushed off and fully visible. 

Check that auto-guidance or similar field-assist technology is disabled while on the road. If possible, bring along an escort vehicle to know what sort of traffic is coming ahead around curves. 


Doing a daily walkaround of your machinery, and making adjustments to your chain, belt, and bearings can prevent more catastrophic damage while in the field. Williams says this doesn’t have to be an in-depth process, instead look for obvious things like where a chain is loose, or if there are spots where metal is rubbing on metal.

Mental health breaks

It’s easy to push yourself too hard during harvest, especially with the dry weather.

“You don't get that rainy day to have a mental health break, regroup and relax, or to catch up on a few maintenance items that you may have been putting off,” says Williams. 

Make sure you're not overworking yourself, and getting to the point where you're too tired and not thinking about some of these safety tips. 

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