Farmers, Ranchers taking fire safety precautions during drier haying season

The current drought can cause grassfires that start from equipment hitting rocks or other accidents.

RAPID CITY, S.D. — While South Dakota farmers and ranchers are out harvesting food for their animals and to sell, drier times like this can dampen those plans.

The current drought can cause grassfires that start from equipment hitting rocks or other accidents.

According to the National Ag Safety Database, combine and tractor fires cause roughly $20-million in property losses and 40 to 50 serious injuries per year in the U.S.

That’s why equipment needs greased and taken care of while farmers also need to steer clear of rocky areas.

“Avoiding rocky terrain or debris that actually causes sparks, not cutting too deep in those areas, those are all basic things that can help either stop a fire, prevent it from happening or stop a fire in it’s tracks,” said Jerome Harvey, the Pennington County Fire Administrator.

An executive order by Governor Noem last week authorized earlier ditch mower and other programs, such as CRP, which compensates farmers and ranchers for lands that can’t be harvested. This is alleviating some of the heat.

“Yeah, three years ago when we had that one good year, we got pert near 1,000 bales off of here, and this year if we get 150, I’m going to be lucky and that’s just about enough, that’s about all I need to finish feeding my cows out for the winter,” said Ron Richards, a Farmer and Rancher. 

But there’s also safety elements in play when it comes to haying.

While farmers and ranchers have to heed the basic safety measures such as not trying to fix anything while equipment is running. But, there’s also another element to it, the fire element. Which is why they have equipment on scene at all times that could help them in any situation.

Some farmers and ranchers even look to buy decommissioned fire trucks in order to quickly respond to flare ups.

Others may even use old trucks with fire suppression equipment to keep their animals and land safe.

“We have a couple of ones that just on pickups, you know, for little fires that we can kind of take care of our self,” Richards said.

That’s also alleviating some of the fire issues that the county may face during these dry times.

“We’ve seen definitely an increase as far as ranching base spraying units or ranching based fire engines and applaud our ranchers for being able to stop the fires right in their tracks like that if something does get started,” Harvey said.

Safety tips for farmers and ranchers who are already doing whatever it takes to keep their livelihoods safe.

For more information and safety tips, click the link below.

Haying and Harvest Safety.

Categories: ConnectCenter1-Ag, ConnectCenter1-Events, Local News, South Dakota News