It’s time to let yet another bountiful harvest begin, safely

It’s worth the time to make a special trip these days out into the field or to an area elevator to watch a timeless harvest tradition unfold. Just remember to do it safely.
As the combines start rolling, we are reminded that this is one of the most dangerous seasons of the year in farm country. It’s stressful, and also very satisfying, for producers to reap the rewards of another crop year, a visually enthralling process to watch from beginning to end. It’s also potentially very dangerous for producers as well as all who share the roadways. All that combines to mean we need to be on high alert for the next several weeks.
I found myself breaking Harvest Safety Rule No. 1 this week, gazing out into the field north of Aurora where a combine was slowly cutting a swath of beans. The first time I see that each fall it is mesmerizing.
Harvest season is ripe with opportunity for injuries, both in the field and on our country roads and highways. Rural intersections, in particular, are an invitation to trouble, where visibility is totally blocked or severely reduced by corn. It’s a beautiful sight, but it does require gearing down for safety sake.
The rate of fatalities and injuries in agriculture continues to decline, but still remains the highest of any industry sector, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These figures are especially relevant during harvest season, as farmers put in long hours under the stress of weather delays, equipment breakdowns, and high operating costs. There is an added stress factor again this year knowing that commodity prices aren’t what they need to be.
Here in Hamilton County, traffic is particularly heavy around Aurora West. With both ethanol plants running and the Aurora Cooperative/Pacific Ethanol partnership in full production mode, the whole 50-acre complex is functioning as designed. It’s so tempting to observe as we drive the speed limit on Highway 34, but don’t. Pull off the road if you want to observe this well-oiled ag machine during peak production.
On a positive note, the crops look really good and should yield a bountiful harvest. Let’s all do our part to make it a safe harvest season.
Kurt Johnson

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