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Drought Increases Risk Of Harvest Season Accidents

State officials are urging farmers to use precaution as the drought has increased risks for fire, harmful dust and mold due to decomposition.

harvest

Photo: Valerie Everett (Flickr)

A tractor kicks up dust during harvest season.

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 and, you know, folks need to, everyone needs to be aware of it, not just farmers,” Nielsen says.

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,” he says.

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.

Kyle Clayton

Kyle Clayton is a WFIU news producer. He is currently studying journalism at Indiana University and comes to WFIU following an internship in the fall of 2011. After serving in the U.S. Army, he returned home to Indiana in 2008 to begin his education and pursue his interests in writing.

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