Pre-Summer Preparations: Readying Your Farm For The Hottest Months Of The Year
April showers bring May flowers, but May also brings the perfect opportunity to prepare your farm for the hotter months ahead. With June 21 marking the first day of summer, farmers and ranchers should use this time to mitigate risks and ensure crops and livestock are ready to handle higher temperatures and the hidden dangers that come with them.
With heat and intense sunlight bearing down, it’s important to keep livestock cool and to be alert for signs and symptoms of heat sickness, including sunken eyes, dark-yellow urine, fever, and open-mouth breathing and trembling.
To reduce the risk of heat stress on your livestock, ranchers can take a variety of precautions before hot weather arrives. Increase the number of water tanks and provide space around them to ensure all animals have plenty of access to hydration. Clear out brush under trees or other canopies to provide your livestock with well-shaded areas, as shade can help reduce the heat load on animals by up to 20 degrees. Keep feed cool, fresh and readily available by designating an indoor or well-shaded storage space. As you look at your feeding schedule for the summer, a helpful tip is to provide feed in the evening, as your livestock will eat more as temperatures cool down for the night.
While summertime is the best time to manually eradicate weeds, farmers can employ organic weed control techniques, some even early in the season. They include:
- Rotating crops
- Planting a variety of crops
- Using dry, healthy soil
- Delayed planting
Farmers and ranchers should designate time to clean and inspect equipment before and during the summer season, making sure each piece of machinery is prepared and ready to run before harvest. Even equipment that has been winterized could have mud, dirt or oil in places it should not be. Any debris covering your farm equipment is a potential hazard. For example, if dry straw or hay comes close to hot equipment, your equipment could catch fire. If this happens in the field, consequences could be disastrous. Remember to inspect your equipment post-winter and before the planting season begins by either following a maintenance checklist or following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule. Clean your equipment as you go so this task is not so daunting at the end of harvesting season.
Farmers and ranchers – and their employees – make their livelihoods outdoors. Long hours in hot, humid conditions can increase the risk of heat illness, which occurs when the body can’t cope with high temperatures and bodily functions break down. It is important that information regarding symptoms of heat illness, as well as how to prevent and treat these symptoms, be conveyed to your workers before and during summer months.
The National Ag Safety Database says the main way to combat heat illness is to stay hydrated. Employees need to drink water at an increased rate to make up for water lost through perspiration. Farmhands over the age of 40 should take extra precautions, as people sweat less with age.
It is important to keep an eye on yourself and your coworkers on the job. If someone seems weak or confused or is behaving strangely, they may be suffering from heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stroke include:
- Heavy sweating
- Cool, moist skin
- Body temperature over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
- Weak pulse
- Blurred vision
- Low blood pressure
While these preparations are important for mitigating risks during the summer season, accidents can still happen. That’s why James Allen Insurance offers various Farm and Ranch policies that can be customized to your operation’s specific needs – and protect you during the hottest time of the year.