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Prepare for silage harvest to prevent accidents later

Emily Wilmes

While there are many components that go into the planning and preparing for fall corn silage harvest, an important one should not be overlooked: safety. Safety for corn silage harvest includes everything from equipment checks to personal care. It is no secret that harvest season is a dangerous time on any farm. Help prevent your farm from becoming another statistic by following these easy—and potentially lifesaving—safety tips.

Equipment checks

Regular maintenance checks on equipment and implements should be a part of the farm routine. Inspect all equipment for loose or broken parts and proper placement. If any safety equipment needs to be removed for maintenance, be sure to reattach that equipment when the work is completed. Preparing equipment now can reduce stress and save time during the peak of harvest time. If maintenance or repairs need to happen during harvest time, remember to completely shut off power sources and do not approach the equipment until all moving parts have come to a stop.

Storage facilities

Ensuring storage facilities are ready now will prevent needing to enter them when they are being filled, a dangerous situation. Old silage should be cleaned out before adding this year’s crop. Check storage facility surfaces for cracks and holes; check water drains to make sure they are opened and draining properly. Upright silos should be inspected for proper door seals, ladders and safety cages. Silos older than 10 years should be checked for structural integrity.

Road safety

Moving from fields to the farm site for unloading will likely include some travel on public roadways. During equipment maintenance, check lights and flashers to make sure they are in working order so it is easier for drivers to see you on the road. It is Minnesota law for all vehicles travelling under 30 miles per hour to have a slow-moving emblem on tractors and equipment. Replace missing or damaged slow-moving vehicle emblems. You may also want to consider using a following vehicle when moving large pieces of equipment. Remind anyone who may be helping you to be mindful while on the road and to respect traffic laws.

Protect your people

Many types of accidents can happen during any part of the silage harvesting process. Having protocols in place can help keep the people on your harvest team safe. Equipment use is the cause of many harvest-time accidents. Be sure people operating the equipment are comfortable doing so and have been properly trained. Setting an example of safety expectations when using equipment will encourage a culture of safety. Taking shortcuts could lead to unsafe behaviors and accidents.

Another major area of concern during this busy time is people visibility, especially while piles are being unloaded and packed. A quick and affordable solution is to provide the whole team with safety vests. I had a farmer who took this tip and now requires everyone wear safety vests during field work. They indicated it has helped them avoid many close calls. In addition, consider providing safety glasses to prevent flying silage from getting into peoples’ eyes. Items like vests and glasses involve a minimal investment and can be used year-round for various tasks.


Spending time on yourself during a busy time of year is likely the last thing on your mind. However, it is crucial to your well-being and the safety of you and the people around you. It is important to not only attend to your own self-care but to encourage others to practice it as well. Self-care involves taking simple steps to ensure physical and mental health.

A major component of self-care is getting enough sleep. It is a busy time and most likely normal chores are squeezed in around harvesting times. However, the body has an absolute need for rest, so strive to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Diet is also an important part of self-care; making an effort to eat full meals with protein and complex carbohydrates can help prevent sugar crashes or feeling overly hungry. Taking time to take care of yourself will keep you more alert and can help prevent mistakes from being made.

Fall kicks off with corn silage harvest. Taking the time to prepare early will save time when harvest rolls around. Taking safety precautions and training helpers will reduce the likelihood of accidents and keep everyone out of harm’s way and working hard. While preparing for silage harvest, complete equipment maintenance, inspect storage facilities for repairs, ensure equipment is ready for road travel, and create a plan for worker safety. Getting ready well before harvest will help the season go smoothly and safely for you and your farm.


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