Agricultural Safety Awareness Program Week - DAY 1
Today is the first day of Agricultural Safety Awareness Program (ASAP) Week and although there are many topics of concern when it comes to safety in agriculture, Tyree Ag is focusing on one area each day this week. Today's area of safety education is about crop protection products.
Handling & Transporting Crop Protection Products
Crop protection products, also known as agrichemicals, on the farm can be dangerous but with proper precautions and knowledge, individuals of all ages can prevent incidents that involve these products. Agrichemicals include fuels, solvents, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers. No matter which crop protection products you are using, they should be treated with extreme caution and used only after reading the instructions. Hazardous materials such as these are required by law to include a Material Safety Data Sheet and label, which gives valuable information on how to safely handle the product.
Why do farmers apply crop protection products to their crops?
Growing the food we need to feed the world is a challenge. Obstacles such as weeds, insects and pests, and fungi are what farmers face that damage their crops and reduce their yields. Much like we take steps in our gardens to keep our plants free from pests and disease, farmers utilize crop protection products (herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, etc.) to help control thousands of weed species, harmful insects, and plant disease that can afflict crops. Whether organic or conventional, farmers face these challenges ever year. So what would happen if we didn’t apply these products to our fields? Food production would decline, as would the production of certain fibers and oils such as cotton. If farmers didn’t use these products, they would depend on more labor intensive and expensive techniques to manage pests which would reduce the number of acres a farmer could manage. There would also be a reduction in food quality in the absence of applications. This could impact the nutritional quality, safety, and quantity of food available to consumers while increasing the cost of perishables. Consumers would have to accept the holes, discolorations, and other blemishes on fruits and vegetables in the absence of sprays. In addition, production costs would increase and those costs would eventually be passed on to consumers.
What do farmers need to know about handling crop production product?
MSDS Information - Farmers need to be sure to read the Material Safety Data (MSDS) Sheet that manufacturers and importers are required to supply with the product. This sheet includes items such as the registered use of the chemical, precautions for use, possible health effects, safety measures for handling, contact information, and withholding periods. A withholding period (WHP) is the minimum period of time that must pass between the last application of a crop protection product and the harvesting of the crop. Many consumers may not realize this WHP is utilized and fear that the crops are not “safe” to consumers but that is why it is enforced.
Storage – Farmers should keep the crop protection products in their original containers, should not remove labels, and store them in a well-ventilated shed with floors and will contain spills. Other suggestions include:
- Store personal protective equipment in a different location than the crop protection products.
- Do not store liquid crop protection products above solids.
- Separate different classes of agrichemicals to prevent reactions.
- Keep a record of the products you buy, store, and use.
Transportation – Those who transport crop protection chemicals should keep the drums of agrichemicals outside of the vehicle cabin so the products are not enclosed with the driver and passengers. A written record of the products being transported should be present, as well as all the appropriate protective gear.
What does Tyree Ag do to ensure safe crop production product handling, storage, and loading?
Tyree Ag employees participate in a DOT Haazmat training and testing program which educates them on several handling and transporting procedures. Our modern facilities at both our Kinsley and Laverne locations provide secure and environmentally friendly storage for seed, liquid fertilizer, and bulk and packaged crop protection products. All aerial and ground equipment are loaded inside in contained areas that are protected from the weather of the central plains. Airplanes and ground applicators are loaded with automated equipment to insure the highest level of accuracy and to minimize exposure to employees and the environment.
Although working with crop protection products can be hazardous, it is still an essential part of crop production. Anyone who is involved in handling these products needs to read and understand product labels, wear protective eye gear, breathing masks if needed, and the proper clothing to cover their skin from major and minor spills. The information listed here is nowhere near all the safety precautions or knowledge you need before working with crop protection products, so please be sure to stay educated on the use and handling these products!
For more information, you can visit the Kansas Department of Agriculture website or any other governmental website with facts regarding crop protection products.