Farm Safety Week

Harvest has just started with the Winter Barley, always our first crop. It has been a good year for the Winter Barley, it had a good start last Autumn and this Spring and early Summer had sun and rain almost exactly when required. The quality seems good and due to the lovely dry weather recently we harvested it in perfect conditions and didn’t need to dry the crop prior to storage. This year, unlike last year, there is now a bit of a gap before anything else will be ready for harvesting, we may be waiting about a fortnight before the next crop, which could be Oilseed Rape or Spring Barley. Therefore, the next few weeks will be a time to try and get ahead with other jobs that get put off during the madness of harvest.

This week has been “Farm Safety Week”, a national campaign to try to improve the safety record of our industry which is sadly languishing near the bottom of many a safety league table. Coincidentally we also had a visit from a Health and Safety advisor. This has been a very interesting process and highlighted a few issues I was completely unaware of and provided solutions for others. Farming accounts for 1% of the national workforce and yet is responsible for 22% of workplace fatalities (Source: HSE). This is a shocking statistic, one that, as an industry we must work hard to put right. Farming has undergone many changes over the last 100 years, not least increasing efficiencies through mechanisation. Tractors have replaced horses and subsequently got bigger and bigger, the workforce has shrunk as margins have tightened. Add to this the variety of jobs undertaken in isolation by many farmworkers around the country working long hours, often under time pressure, or the threat of an impending change in weather and the reasons for the poor safety record begin to reveal themselves. The solutions are not always obvious but some small tweaks can make a huge difference. Touch wood our safety record here is pretty good, but it is very important that we are not complacent and move forwards with safety a high priority, especially at this busy time of harvest.

On a lighter note, I gave an interview this week to BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today about our No-Till System as part of their week focusing on cereal production. It was aired at 0545 on Thursday 18th and 0630 Saturday 20th July for those who may wish to listen back click

Hopefully we will continue to enjoy some warm, sunny and dry weather as we move into August. Harvest should really get going and all the schools will have broken up, ready to enjoy the Summer holidays.