THE Grains Research and Development Corporation and fire safety experts are supporting grain growers in the southern cropping region in their efforts to minimise the risk of harvester fires.
Kondinin Group research reveals that on average, about seven per cent of harvesters per year will start a fire. In these cases, one in 10 will cause significant damage to the machine or surrounding crop.
But experts say those figures can be reduced with improved harvester hygiene, maintenance and potentially with exhaust system shielding treatments, particularly in more volatile crops such as lentils.
Reducing the risk of harvester fires during this year’s lentil crop harvest was the focus of four recent GRDC technical workshops in Victoria and South Australia.
GRDC Southern Manager Grower Services, Craig Ruchs, says the workshops – at Swan Hill and Warracknabeal in Victoria and Crystal Brook and Cleve in South Australia – were designed especially for new lentil growers or those with limited prior experience with lentil harvesting operations.
“Harvester fires have become an issue of increasing concern in the southern cropping region in recent years, particularly when harvesting lentil crops,” Mr Ruchs said.
“With lentil production moving into areas where these pulse crops have previously not been common, the GRDC Southern Regional Panel recognised that it was important for all growers to be equipped with the latest expert advice and resources to reduce the risk of fires caused by machinery this harvest.
“Although the workshops were targeted at new lentil growers, much of the information delivered applies to all growers and machinery operators – regardless of the crops being harvested and levels of harvest experience.
“Machinery failure is in many cases responsible for fires starting so it is critical that all growers undertake scheduled harvester operation checks and regular maintenance leading up to and throughout harvest in an effort to reduce the risk of fire.
source : GRDC