Field fires during harvest much greater risk due to drought

AMES — This is Farm Safety Week as harvest season gets rolling, and all farm hands are warned to stay especially vigilant for field fires during the drought.

Iowa State University Extension ag engineer Kris Kohl says after a series of rural fires in 2012, a study was conducted that focused on variables like temperature, humidity and wind.  “We didn’t get any correlation to super high temperatures or really low humidity,” Kohl says, “but when you hit wind, if the wind was over 20 miles an hour in dry conditions, things can take off and burn really bad, really fast.”

Kohl suggests farmers use a leaf blower to blast the dust and debris off their hot machinery, especially when the weather is perfect for a wildfire.  “When we get to those kinds of conditions where we’ve got wind speeds predicted over 20 miles an hour, those are the days you’ve got to really watch out and make sure the combines are clean,” Kohl says. “Probably clean them off every couple of hours to make sure we don’t get a field fire taking off.”

Kohl recommends producers have a disc attached to a large tractor rather than trying to use water to battle any potential fire out in the fields.


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