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Farming

Farmers warned to not cut corners as pressure mounts to get work done

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FARMERS will be under more pressure than ever during cultivation and harvesting this season, after challenging weather delayed operations, but the Wales Farm Safety Partnership (WFSP) warns that health and safety must not be compromised.

From the maintenance of machines before they are used to being aware of the height of overhead electricity cables, there are multiple considerations for farmers at what can be their busiest few months.

Brian Rees, a farmer who is also a trainer and mentor in health and safety at Farming Connect, gives advice on some of the key areas that must not be overlooked.

1.     Maintenance

It will often be the first time in months that some machines have been put to work so important maintenance assessments need to be done before they are operated.

Check brakes on tractors and implements and tyre pressures too.

Grease moving parts such as hitching systems.

Ensure that oil levels are high so that oil pressure isn’t lost when the machine is operating.

2.     Safe stop

When parking a vehicle, always apply the handbrake, engage the gear system in neutral, turn off the engine and remove the key.

If there is a loader or other implement on the front, always lower this before turning the engine off.

3.     Check stocks of in-cab items

Every farm vehicle, from tractors to combine harvesters, should have a first aid kit in its cab and also plenty of drinking water.

Most people now have a mobile phone and it is most important than ever to carry this during field work.

4.     Lone working

Technology has provided some important tracking tools for farmers working in isolated locations.

Apps such as Find My Friends and Life 360 provide live updates on where the phone – and farmer – are located.

Farmers should always let someone know where they are working and the approximate time they expect to return.

5.     Working on slopes

Keep vehicles in four-wheel drive and ensure the weight of the vehicle is on the gripping wheels – that means on the lower side of how the vehicle is positioned on the slope.

Having the correct tyre pressure is more important than ever when operating machines on more challenging terrain.

Always wear a seatbelt when in the cab.

6.     Using the road safely

Larger machines can straddle the highway on double carriageways so appropriate safety measures need to be taken, including having convoy vehicles to warn other motorists.

This is sensible on smaller country roads to, to avoid congestion or meeting oncoming vehicles when there is no room to pass, and to check the road ahead for potential obstructions.

Although there is no law dictating when slow-moving vehicles should pull over to allow other road users to pass, the guidance is to do so at the next appropriate spot when there are six vehicles behind.

7.     Beware of overhead power cables

Lines that have up to 32 kV of power must have a minimum ground clearance of at least 5.2m, and lines with up to 132 kV should be 6.7m or more from the ground.

What many farmers might not take into account though is that power cables can drop during hot weather, sometimes by half a metre, so this needs to be considered when working near them.

8.     Be seen on the highway

By law, farm vehicles must be fitted with a flashing beacon when they are travelling along an unrestricted dual carriageway but it is sensible to have this on a country road too, to warn other road users of a slow moving vehicle.

A second beacon might be needed if a tractor is towing a high-sided trailer or machine as the beacon, which must be seen from 360 degrees, could be obscured.

Never use a tractor’s working lights on the highway at night as the glare of these will cause dazzle for motorists travelling in front or behind.

9.     Keep children safe

Children should only ever be in a working area on a farm when they are 100% supervised by a responsible person who is not part of the working team.

Children under 13 should never ride in the cab of any agricultural machine.

10.  Fire prevention

Any dust or chaff on harvesting equipment presents a fire hazard so ensure that any these are blown off regularly to prevent build-up.

11.  Fatigue

The hours can be long during cultivation and harvesting so it is important to be aware of the signs of fatigue and to take a break when these start to set in.

It can be sensible to have changeovers of staff operating machines – for example in a harvesting situation, the combine or forage harvester operator will be working continuously while the tractor drivers might have the opportunity of a short break between loads. Switch between the two if the drivers have the relevant expertise.

12.  Protect against heat and sun

Harvesting ideally takes place when the weather is warm and sunny but with heat and sun come the need for frequent hydration and sun protection.

Drink plenty of water, wear sun cream and a hat, and keep arms and legs covered during the hottest part of the day.

13.  Be visible in the yards

Ensure that any pedestrians who are, for example directing drivers into pits, are wearing hi-vis clothing so that they can be clearly seen.

Minimise reversing manoeuvres; while these can’t be eliminated entirely they can be reduced and this is important as the biggest killer on farms is people being run over or crushed by a moving vehicle.

Some new models of tractors and trailers are now fitted with reversing alarms.

For more advice, come and see us at the RWAS Sustainable Grassland and Muck event at Trawscoed Farm on the 30th May 2024.

Farming

Wales legislates for ‘industry-led approach’ to tackle Bovine Viral Diarrhoea

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NEXT MONTH (Jul 1), the Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (Wales) Order 2024 will be introduced to facilitate an industry-led approach to eradicating the disease.

Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) is a widespread viral disease affecting cattle, which can lead to abortion, infertility, deformed calves, and compromised herd health and welfare, particularly among young stock. Herds infected with BVD often experience increased cases of calf pneumonia and scours, as well as reduced productivity and other cattle health and welfare issues. BVD is not recognised to be a risk to public health or food safety.

Cattle sector representatives and Welsh Government have been closely working together to develop legislation to facilitate the next steps towards the eradication of BVD in Wales. This compulsory phase of the industry-led BVD eradication programme starts this summer.

Eradicating BVD from Wales will improve standards of animal health and welfare and help Wales achieve its Net Zero targets sooner. Eradicating BVD from a typical Welsh herd of 40 cattle could reduce the carbon footprint by around 70,200kg CO2e annually.

In addition, eradication should bring significant farm-level financial benefits stemming from improved cattle health, welfare, and productivity, including increased milk yield and reproduction rates.

From 1st July 2024, the industry-led BVD legislation that Welsh Government is introducing will require keepers to:

  1. Screen their herds for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) annually by testing a small number of cattle.
  2. Isolate Persistently Infected (PI) animals from the rest of the herd for the remainder of their lives.
  3. Cattle keepers will have until 1st July 2025 to complete their annual herd test.

These measures will support the innovative, industry-led approach to stopping the spread of BVD, safeguarding animal welfare, and maintaining a healthy and sustainable cattle industry in Wales. Cattle industry representatives, with Welsh Government assistance, will set up a Wales BVD governance body involving a comprehensive partnership and farmer support structure to facilitate BVD eradication efforts.

Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies, said: “I understand and appreciate the serious impact of BVD, not just on standards of animal health and welfare, but also the impact on production and the serious economic costs of this disease to farm businesses.

“The eradication of BVD in Wales is a long-standing commitment, and I fully support industry and Government working together in close partnership to achieve this outcome.”

Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Dr Richard Irvine, said: “The benefits of being BVD-free include increased cattle health, welfare, productivity and fertility. Eliminating BVD can reduce costs and the carbon footprint of your herd. Maintaining a BVD-free status strengthens the health and welfare of our cattle farms in Wales, and can also help reduce antibiotic usage.

Embarking on this next phase of the BVD eradication programme in Wales is a really important step. I would like to recognise the industry-led approach, backed up by this new BVD legislation. We can achieve eradication through the ongoing efforts of all cattle farmers, working closely with their vets, to screen and protect their herds from BVD.”

Supporting comments:

John Griffiths, Head of Agricultural Research & Development and former manager of the Gwaredu BVD scheme, said: “It’s very important for us to work to eradicate BVD from our herds in Welsh, and this is one disease which is possible to eradicate. Many other countries are working to get rid of the disease and Welsh will now join Ireland, Scotland, and England to get rid of the disease.”

Dr Neil Paton, from Royal Veterinary College, said: “The BVD virus causes a huge impact on the welfare of cattle and getting rid of the virus will mean a much healthier cattle population and a much more productive one too”.

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Farming

Fishguard set for another spectacular tractor run

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FISHGUARD and the surrounding areas are eagerly anticipating the annual Fishguard Show Tractor Run, scheduled to take place on Sunday, 16th June 2024. This highly anticipated event promises a day filled with camaraderie, scenic routes, and the unmistakable charm of vintage and modern tractors.

Participants are expected to arrive from 9:00 AM at the Goodwick Car Park. The run will commence at 11:00 AM, with tractors of various makes and models setting off on a picturesque journey through the stunning Welsh countryside. The entry fee is £20 per tractor, which includes a complimentary lunch and a raffle ticket, adding an element of excitement and reward for the participants

The convoy of tractors will navigate their way to Celtic Camping at Pwll Gaerog Farm, where a lunch break is scheduled. This stopover provides an excellent opportunity for participants and spectators to mingle, enjoy the local hospitality, and appreciate the diverse array of tractors on display. The lunch is generously hosted by the Griffiths family, known for their support of local events and community spirit

The Fishguard Show Tractor Run is more than just a visual spectacle; it is a community-driven event aimed at raising funds for the Fishguard Show. The show is a staple of local culture, showcasing agricultural excellence and offering a variety of entertainment for all ages. The funds raised from the tractor run will help ensure the continued success and growth of this beloved event

For those interested in participating or seeking more information, Alun Mason is the point of contact and can be reached at 07970 249451. Prospective participants are encouraged to register early to secure their spot in what promises to be a memorable day for all involved

Mark your calendars and prepare for a delightful day celebrating the rural heritage and community spirit of Fishguard. Whether you’re a tractor enthusiast or simply looking for a unique day out, the Fishguard Show Tractor Run is an event not to be missed.

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Farming

Agricultural Society launches search for Ambassador-elect

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PEMBROKESHIRE Agricultural Society are looking to appoint a new Ambassador for 2025 to help support officeholders in promoting and meeting the aims of the Society.

The voluntary role will shadow the 2024 Ambassador at this year’s County Show and other Society events. They will also play an important role in the promotion of the work of the Society, the agricultural industry and rural life in Pembrokeshire. 

The role was awarded to Ffion Edwards during last year’s show. Ffion is a nurse from Maenclochog. She has enjoyed many years of attending the county show and believes that there are so many good elements to it. Ffion has been a member of Llysyfran YFC for 15 years and enjoys every aspect of young farmers – trying new experiences, competing and travelling to name a few.

Adam Thorne, Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society President, said, “The Ambassador role is an important one. In order to fulfil the role successfully the applicant must have excellent communication skills and an enthusiasm to carry out required duties. Knowledge of the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society and the County Show is desirable.”

Anyone aged between 18 and 30 and residing in Pembrokeshire can apply for the role. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an interview from 7pm on Tuesday, 13 August, at the County Show office. The successful applicant will receive an allowance of £200 and membership of the Society for three years.

Those interested in applying for the position will need to complete the online application form.

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