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  • Tips for a Safe Harvest

    By Stephanie Speicher





    It’s harvest time and we want you all to have a successful and safe harvest. As George Washington once said, "Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful, and most noble employment of man." However, agriculture can also be a dangerous employment. On average, around 450 farmers and farm workers are killed every year due to farm accidents and around 100 are injured daily. So to help keep you stay safe during harvest, here’s a list of safety tips and tricks.




    • Read over your owner’s manual and check your equipment before use.
      • Rereading your manual probably doesn’t sound fun, but it’s been about a year since you’ve used this equipment, so a quick brush up on the manual can only help. When you’re checking your equipment make sure everything is clean and functioning properly.


    • Stay alert! Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, eat healthy, and stay hydrated.
      • Get out of the equipment and stretch your legs every once in a while. Keeping your body healthy with enough rest and nourishment will help keep your mind healthy and alert as well.


    • Turn off all equipment before getting out and make sure everything is off if you need to check something.
      • Never try to unclog something while the machine is running! If anything gets clogged make sure everything is turned off and all moving parts have stopped before you get out and unclog it. It’s better to take a little extra time than to risk your safety.


    • Never go into a grain bin unless absolutely necessary, and if necessary be sure to have ladders, ropes, harnesses, masks, and other safety equipment.
      • If you have to enter a grain bin, make sure everything is turned off first. Always use proper safety equipment and make sure you don’t go in without someone else close by just in case.


    • If you need to drive equipment on the road, be sure to have lights and slow moving vehicle signs.
      • Be patient on the roads, pay attention to what other drivers are doing, and take every precaution to make sure you are seen. Drivers might not be expecting to see a large, slow moving piece of equipment, so stay alert and be cautious.


    • Use updated equipment. Having modern equipment with built in safety features is a bonus way to keep you safe.
      • If you’re in the market for a combine, we have a wide selection at LancasterFarmingLocator.com including some newer John Deere models that come fully loaded with a multitude of safety features including lights, slow moving vehicles signs, handrails, slip resistant steps, seat belts, and seat switch-activated interlock. Having a modern combine gives you a little extra safety, especially when you’re also taking other safety precautions.





    The team here at LancasterFarmingLocator.com hope you all have a great harvest this year and encourage you to check out our website for all of your equipment needs for harvest and beyond. Our goal is to help you find the equipment you need to be successful. Stay safe out there and have a wonderful harvest!


  • Farm Safety Month a Reminder to be Safe

    By Jayne Sebright
    From Lancaster Farming

    As farmers, all too often we wear our injuries like badges of honor. “This scar is from the time I got caught in the gate,” “This is the bruise where the cow kicked me,” “This is where the Kubota backed into me.” But as any soldier would tell you, badges of honor are often reminders of how close we’ve come to tragedy. For my son, it’s the scar on his arm that reminds him not to run behind the vertical feed mixer or any equipment when it’s backing up, and for me, it’s the broken collarbone that reminds me not to put myself between an off-balance cow and the gate next to her.

    Almost any report on occupational safety will list farming as one of the most hazardous of all jobs. Every day about 100 agricultural workers suffer a lost-worktime injury, according to a report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

    Unfortunately, too many of those injuries result in tragedy, with the report indicating that the industry has a fatality rate of 19.2 deaths for every 100,000 workers. The report shows that risks are high for farmers, their farm employees and for the children residing and working on the farms. In fact, in 2014 alone, an estimated 12,000 youth were injured on U.S. farms. September is National Farm Safety Month. It serves as an important reminder for every farm to have protocols and a plan to ensure the safety of both your family members and your employees. In 2016, the Center for Dairy Excellence joined with the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania and Penn State Extension Dairy Team to highlight the importance of on-farm safety. As part of that effort, each month we share safety tips from farmers on near misses and lessons they have incorporated into their farm safety plan.

    Here are some of what we’ve learned from this initiative.

    • Develop BMPs and protocols.

    Many of the near-misses shared over the past year have been incidents that could have been avoided if the people involved were following proper protocols.

    Having best management practices related to safety written down and reviewed with all employees can remind everyone to stop and think, saving themselves from a potential injury or accident. Protocols should be written for working with cattle, with equipment, and with chemicals and other potential hazards on the farm.

    Those protocols should also be posted near areas where farm workers are likely to be performing those tasks so they are kept front of mind. Many organizations offer resources to help you develop those protocols. If you would like help, please contact the center and we can get you in touch with those resources.

    • Have a plan. Do your employees know what to do when an emergency occurs? We have all heard tragic stories of when one farm worker approached a situation and made it worse by putting themselves in harm’s way.

    Write down your plan in case of an accident, a fire or any other type of emergency and share it with your employees and your family members. Make sure theyknow where fire extinguishers are and what to do toensure their own safety as well as the person

    involved in the accident. Again, many resources exist to help you develop that plan.

    • Create a culture. When I worked at Land O’Lakes, every morning I walked by a sign that shared how many days the Carlisle plant was accident free.

    When they hit certain milestones, like 100 days or 500 days, the staff would be invited to celebrations to reward their commitment to safety. This is something that could easily be incorporated into any farm culture. Think of ways to remind your employees and your family members how important safety is — start every meeting with a safety share, post the number of days you are accident free or personally recognize employees you see taking extra steps to be safe. The little things you do will create a culture of safety that will resonate in fewer accidents and a safer team.

    • Consider an audit. Thirdparty groups are available to come in and audit your farm to identify areas that could be unsafe. Often those audits will bring to light potential hazardous situations that you didn’t see on your own.

    You could also contact your local Extension agent and ask if they’d be willing to come out and walk through your farm with you to make sure your protocols prioritize safety of your employees.

    Your nutritionist or another key adviser may also be able to help you evaluate your operation as well. Having that outside perspective involved in developing your safety plan can ensure you’re doing everything possible to be safe.

    National Farm Safety Month is an ideal time to remind yourself how important it is to be safe, especially as you are working through a very busy fall harvest season. Don’t wait until an accident happens to serve as that reminder. If you would like additional resources to encourage farm safety on the farm, please contact the Center for Dairy Excellence at 717-346-0849 or at info@centerfordairyexcellence. org and we can share some of those resources with you.

    Editor’s note: Jayne Sebright is the Pennsylvania Center for Dairy Excellence executive director.

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  • Tractor Stability and Instability

    From Penn State Extension






    No other farm machine is so identified with the hazards of production agriculture as the tractor. Today's tractors are highly efficient in power and fuel economy. Powerful engines, hydraulic and electrical components and accessories, PTOs even at the front of some tractors, and a continually evolving choice of transmission types (from standard shift to shift-on-the-go transmissions involving electro-hydraulic technology) provide maximum power and fuel efficiency.

    While modern tractors have become safer due to additional weighting options and wheel settings or even dual wheel and track capability, the topic of tractor stability and potential instability is still very important. This Fact Sheet discusses center of gravity and stability baseline in relation to centrifugal force, rear-axle torque, and drawbar leverage. Any tractor can overturn depending upon these physical principles, its use at the time, and the topography over which it is operated.




    Center of Gravity

    The central concept in tractor stability/instability is Center of Gravity (CG). A tractor's CG is the point where all parts balance one another. For example, when a two-wheel drive tractor is sitting with all wheels on level ground, the CG is typically about 10 inches (25.4 cm) above and two feet (0.6 m) in front of the rear axle when looking from back to front, and in the center of the tractor body when looking left to right. This results in approximately 30 percent of the tractor weight on the front axle, and 70 percent on the rear axle. For four-wheel drive and center-articulated tractors, the CG is located slightly more forward. Added weights to a tractor can affect the CG.

    For a tractor to stay upright, its CG must stay within the tractor's stability baseline. Stability baselines (Figure 1) are imaginary lines drawn between points where the tractor tires contact the ground. The line connecting the rear tire contact points is the rear stability baseline, while the lines connecting the rear and front tires on the same side are the side stability baselines. Front stability baselines exist but have limited use in stability/instability considerations, and are not normally included in such discussions. See Figure 1 for an illustration of a tractor's CG and stability baselines. Just as added weights affect the center of gravity so does width of the rear wheel settings, using dual wheels, or using a track equipped tractor.

    While a tractor's CG does not move, its relationship with stability baselines may change and occurs most often when the tractor moves from a level position onto a slope. A changing CG-stability baseline relationship means the tractor is moving toward an unstable position. If the CG-stability baseline relationship changes significantly (e.g., tractor CG moves beyond or outside of the stability baseline), the tractor rolls over. Tractor CG action is no different from the CG action on any other mobile vehicle. What differs is that tractors have a higher CG when compared to most other vehicles, such as automobiles and trucks. The higher CG on modern tractors is an inherent design characteristic and relates to their need for higher ground clearance over crops and rough terrain. Changing tractor design so that their CG is significantly lowered would largely defeat the purpose for having agricultural tractors.

    When a tractor is on an incline, the distance between the tractor's CG and stability baseline is reduced. If equipment, such as a front-end loader, a round bale lifting fork, or a chemical side saddle tank is mounted on the tractor, the additional weight shifts the CG toward that piece of equipment. As mounted equipment is raised, the CG is raised. As Figure 2 illustrates, a higher CG decreases tractor stability. In many normal working situations, ground terrain and mounted equipment combine to reduce the distance between the equipment's CG and stability baselines.

    Figure 2. a higher CG allows a side overturn to occur more quickly

    Other factors important to tractor stability/ instability include centrifugal force (CF), rear-axle torque (RAT), and drawbar leverage (DBL). Each of these factors works through the CG. Saying this another way, each of these factors may cause the tractor's CG to go beyond the tractor's stability baseline and overturn.




    Centrifugal Force

    Centrifugal force is the outward force nature exerts on objects or vehicles moving in a circular fashion. Within the context of tractor stability and instability, CF is the force trying to roll the tractor over whenever the tractor is turning. Centrifugal force increases both as the turning angle of the tractor becomes sharper, and as the speed of the tractor increases during a turn. The CF increase is directly proportional to the turning angle of the tractor. For every degree the tractor is turned tighter, there is an equal amount of increased CF. Since tractors have a higher CG, they require less CF to roll over than a vehicle with a lower CG.

    The relationship between CF and tractor speed, however, is not directly proportional. Centrifugal force varies in proportion to the square of the tractor's speed. For example, doubling tractor speed from 3 mph to 6 mph increases the strength of centrifugal force four times (22 = 2 x 2 = 4). Tripling tractor speed from 3 mph to 9 mph increases CF nine times (32 = 3 x 3 = 9).

    Centrifugal force is often a factor in tractor side overturns. When the distance between the tractor's CG and side stability baseline is already reduced from being on a hillside, only a small amount of CF force may be needed to push the tractor over. Centrifugal force is what usually pushes a tractor over when the tractor is driven too fast during a turn, or during road travel. During road travel, rough roads may result in the tractor's front tires bouncing and landing in a turned position. Over-correcting steering if the tractor starts to veer off the road is another example where CF is a factor in side overturns. The location of CG and amount of CF are points of stability/instability information tractor operators do not have at their disposal.




    Rear-Axle Torque

    Rear-axle torque involves energy transfer between the tractor engine and the rear axle of two-wheel drive tractors. When the clutch is engaged on this type of tractor, the result is a twisting force, called torque, to the rear axle. This torque is then transferred to the tractor tires. Under normal circumstances the rear axle (and tires) should rotate and the tractor will move ahead. In lay terms, the rear axle is basically rotating about the tractor chassis. If the rear axle should be unable to rotate, the tractor chasses rotates about the axle. This reverse rotation results in the front-end of the tractor lifting off the ground until the tractor's CG passes the rear stability baseline. At this point, the tractor will continue rearward from its own weight until it crashes into the ground or other obstacle. Some examples of this happening are when the rear tractor tires are frozen to the ground, are stuck in a mud hole, or are blocked from rotating by the operator.

    A tractor may overturn from rear axle torque before an operator realizes that the overturn is imminent. Remember that the CG of a tractor is found closer to the rear axle than the front axle. Therefore, a tractor may only have to rear up to about 75 degrees from a level surface before its CG passes the rear stability baseline and continues to roll over. This position is commonly called the "point of no return" (Figure 3). Research has shown that a tractor may reach this position in ¾ of a second, and that it may take an operator longer than this to successfully stop the rearward motion. There are many tractor operating situations where there is even less than ¾ of a second to recognize and successfully react to an impending rear overturn. For example, when a tractor is in a deep hole, or is traveling up a steep incline, the distance between the tractor's CG and rear stability baseline is narrowed. If excessive rear axle torque is applied, the tractor will reach the "point of no return" more quickly. Figure 4 illustrates this situation.

    Four-wheel drive tractors are less susceptible to the rear axle torque hazard than two-wheel drive tractors because torque is applied to both the front and rear axles and tires. Also, more weight is carried on the front axle, moving the CG forward. These features lessen the tendency of the front of four-wheeled drive tractors to lift off the ground. However, once the front end does lift, there is practically little difference between two- and four-wheeled drive tractors.




    Drawbar Leverage

    Drawbar leverage is another principle of stability/instability related to rear overturns. When a two-wheel drive tractor is pulling a load, its rear tires push against the ground. Simultaneously, the load attached to the tractor is pulling back and down against the forward movement of the tractor. The load is said to be pulling down because the load is resting on the ground surface. This backward and downward pull results in the rear axle becoming a pivot point, with the load acting as a force trying to tip the tractor rearward. An "angle of pull" is created between the ground's surface and the point of attachment on the tractor. Figure 5 illustrates these points. The heavier the load, and the higher the "angle of pull", the more leverage the load has to tip the tractor rearward.

    A tractor, including its drawbar, is designed to safely counteract the rearward tipping action of pulled loads. When loads are attached to a tractor at any point other than its designed location, the design of the tractor for pulling loads is defeated. A tractor pulling a tree stump can be used as an example to show the effects of safe and unsafe hitching. Assumptions for this example include a tree stump that does not budge, a log chain that does not break, and a tractor with properly ballasted (weighted) tires and an engine that does not stall.

    Suppose the tractor is hitched safely with the log chain wrapped around the tree stump and attached to the tractor drawbar. The tractor is engaged and begins to pull on the stump. When the tree stump does not pull loose, the tractor will react in one of two ways. The most expected reaction will be a slipping (spinning) of the rear tires. This will continue until the operator stops the tractor. The second reaction may also involve a slipping of the rear tires, but the slipping may be neither smooth nor consistent but may slip with a jerking motion and one tire may slip more than the other. Either one of these conditions may lead to a lifting of the front end of the tractor.

    When the front end of the tractor lifts, the rear drawbar of the tractor will lower. This is a function of tractor geometry. The higher the front end rises, the lower the rear drawbar is driven. As the drawbar lowers, the "angle of pull" and the leverage the load has to tip a tractor rearward is also lowered. By design, a load will always lose its ability to tip a tractor rearward before the tractor's CG reaches the rear stability baseline. As the load loses its ability to continue to tip the tractor rearward, the front end falls back to the ground. If the tractor operator does not stop the pulling action, the entire process will repeat itself, resulting in a bouncing of the tractor's front end.

    On the other hand, hitching unsafely, for example to a point higher than the drawbar, increases the "angle of pull" and leverage of a load. As the tractor tips rearward, these might not reduce to a harmless level before the tractor's CG reaches the rear stability baseline. When a load is hitched to a rear axle, the "angle of pull" and leverage do not reduce as the front end raises because the location of the hitch point (rear axle) stays constant throughout the rearward tip.

    On the other hand, hitching unsafely, for example to a point higher than the drawbar, increases the "angle of pull" and leverage of a load. As the tractor tips rearward, these might not reduce to a harmless level before the tractor's CG reaches the rear stability baseline.

    When a load is hitched to a rear axle, the "angle of pull" and leverage do not reduce as the front end raises because the location of the hitch point (rear axle) stays constant throughout the rearward tip.

    A higher hitch point also increases the pressure of the rear tires against the ground. This may prevent the rear tires from slipping but when the rear tires stop slipping; rear axle torque will begin lifting the front end. Accident reports suggest that most cases of improper hitching are associated with pulling and dragging non-mobile objects such as tree stumps, logs, fence posts, boulders, non-wheeled equipment such as large livestock feeders and tanks, and farm equipment mired in mud. The tractor operator is often tempted to hitch above the drawbar to lift the load while pulling it. Figure 6 and 7 illustrate safe and unsafe hitching.

    Tractors trying to pull a load up an incline take less leverage to flip rearward because the tractor's CG is closer to the rear stability baseline. It is possible to flip a tractor rearward when the load is properly hitched to the drawbar when several factors occur. If the tractor is headed up an incline at too fast of a speed and the load, such as a large log, suddenly digs into the ground, the rearward pull may be so quick and strong that the momentum generated by the rearward lift may result in a rear overturn.




    Roll-Over Protective Structure and Seat Belt

    The rollover protective structure (ROPS) and seat belt, when worn, are the two most important safety devices to protect operators from death during tractor overturns. It is important to remember that the ROPS does not prevent tractor overturns, but it does prevent the operator from being crushed during an overturn. For the ROPS to provide the best protection, the operator must stay within the protective frame of the ROPS. Therefore, the operator must wear the seatbelt. Not wearing the seat belt may defeat the primary purpose of the ROPS.

    A ROPS often limits the degree of rollover, which may also reduce the probability of injury to the operator. A ROPS with an enclosed cab further reduces the likelihood of a serious injury because the operator is protected by the sides and windows of the cab assuming that the cab doors and windows were not removed.





    For more from the Penn State Extension, click here!

  • US Dollar Drives Current Farm Price Cycle

    By Charlene Shupp Espenshade
    Lancaster Farming






    SUMMERDALE, Pa. — When farmers look at market prices, the obvious drivers are crop yield, grain stocks and weather.

    But the current cycle is being driven by the value of currency, according to one market analyst who spoke at this week’s Dairy Financial and Risk Management Conference in Summerdale.

    Ben Buckner, a grain analyst for AgResource Co., said current grain prices might leave U.S. farmers with tough margins, but higher currency rates have been adding a second punch.

    He spoke with agricultural lenders at the Central Penn Conference Center on Wednesday.

    In 2012, it was currency that drove farmers across the globe to produce more corn, soybeans and wheat. This push coincided with a plateauing of global demand.

    “Normally, when we have too much soy and corn, prices go down and farmers respond,” he said. However, that did not happen across the board as some countries maintained profitable margins thanks to currency differences.

    The demand for crude oil declined during this time period, which reduced the gross domestic product for oil-producing countries and drove down the value of their currencies in relation to the U.S. dollar.

    Suddenly, U.S. farmers were struggling to find markets while farmers in South America and Russia found profits in $3.50 a bushel corn thanks to the currency difference.

    These global competitors of the U.S. were also gaining advantages by improving their farm management and increasing their yields.

    “We have lost a lot of the world export share. We just can’t compete,” Buckner said.

    Farmers in Australia and Ukraine are making large margins on wheat while a farmer in western Kansas is barely breaking even.

    The grain market shows signs for improvement. “The best thing that happened for the grain farmer and potentially the dairy farmer is the chaos in Washington,” Buckner said. “The dollar has all of a sudden collapsed.”

    That chaos could help spur a bullish ag trend. Another positive sign is the stabilization of crude oil prices and a slow drawdown on oil stocks.

    Over the past 12 months, only Argentine farmers have been making money in the corn markets.

    “Finally, there is pressure on the world farmer. It’s not the weather. It’s farm revenue and currency. The bull market for the farmer in South America has ended,” Buckner said.

    “First, we have to contend with abundance. There is too much corn, wheat and beans,” he said.

    Brazil produces two corn crops each year, and this is the first time that corn acres have declined. The incentive to expand grain production is not there, Buckner said, and he predicts that grain stocks in the global market will start to drop.

    He said he expects U.S. corn and soybean yields will decline in the October World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report.

    Shifting to dairy, Buckner said there are a lot of cows and a lot of milk. However, there was a gap in butter, which helped to bolster prices. But the butter boom might be ending.

    “We need to find markets for these other products,” he said.

    Record milk production is expected to continue through early 2018. U.S. dairy cow inventory is higher than 2016 levels, and milk production per cow is growing.

    Because world butter prices are so much higher than here, U.S. butter has become the best buy on the market. Other U.S. dairy exports are higher as well.

    In contrast, nonfat dry milk is “very, very, very cheap” as New Zealand clears out all its inventories, Buckner said.

    Global powder inventories are a drag on milk prices, he said, but the low prices could be an opportunity for dairy sales in China and East Asia.

    Next year, Buckner said, he expects to see “dairy prices head sideways unless there is a sharp decline.”






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  • Livestock Lead Projected Rise in Farm Income




    Photo by Charlene Shupp Espenshade






    National farm profitability is expected to rise in 2017, a positive sign after three years of decline.

    The strongest growth is projected in the livestock-heavy Northeast and Great Lakes regions, said Carrie Litkowski, an economist at the USDA Economic Research Service.

    Net farm income for 2017 is forecast at $63 billion, a 3 percent increase from last year, according to numbers the agency released on Aug. 30.

    In its last report in February, USDA was projecting a decline in this broad measure of profitability.

    Cash receipts are expected to rise $14 billion, or 4 percent, this year, largely thanks to gains in the livestock and dairy sectors.

    Hogs and broilers are projected to post the largest increases, at roughly 15 percent each. Dairy’s growth is forecast at 11 percent.

    All three industries should see growth in both prices and quantities sold, Litkowski said.

    Despite weak prices, cattle receipts are expected to rise 8 percent because of an increase in sales volume.

    The outlook for crops is mixed.

    Soybean cash receipts are expected to increase for the second year in a row, as prices and sales volume rise. Corn receipts are expected to erode, and wheat will likely continue its four-year slide.

    Vegetable receipts could increase about 7 percent, while the fruit and nut sector could see a 17 percent decline driven by low prices.

    Farmers in most regions of the United States should see an increase in net cash income, but the increase is expected to be greatest in the region that includes Pennsylvania, New York, New England, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

    The so-called northern crescent, strong in animal agriculture, could see a 15 percent jump in farm income.

    The dominant produce-growing states like California, Florida and Washington are the only part of the country where cash income is expected to fall.

    The 6 percent slide accounts for weak fruit prices but is mitigated by the dairy farms in some of those states, Litkowski said.

    While many farmers may bring in more money this year, median farm household income is expected to stay basically unchanged at $77,000.

    The major reason is that farmers are projected to spend more on inputs this year after a rare two-year stretch of declining expenses, Litkowski said.

    Fuel costs had been declining for two years and animal purchase costs for three, but both are expected to rise in 2017. Labor is the largest cost expected to grow this year.

    By contrast, feed — by far the biggest input cost — could decline a little because of soft prices. Fertilizer costs are expected to fall for the third straight year.

    Despite historically high debt levels, overall equity is expected to increase. The risk of default remains low, Litkowski said.

    Government payments are expected to remain flat at $13 billion. Low-price programs like Price Loss Coverage and Agriculture Risk Coverage accounted for about 65 percent of government payments, followed by conservation programs at 30 percent.

    Litkowski said it was too early to know how the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana would affect farm incomes.

    Farms may have lost crops and livestock, but prices could rise to compensate. Many of the farmers in the deluged area have good crop insurance coverage, Litkowski said.





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