Tips to avoid combine fires during harvest


The farmers around Delaware County have been moving right along with harvest with no rain interruptions. Dry, hot weather has given us an early start with harvest this year. A lot of beans have been coming off. I know there have been several combine fires around the state and one in Delaware County that I know of. Thankfully no one was hurt and the field did not catch on fire. These fires start as crop residue accumulates near a direct heat source such as the engine or exhaust system, or on and around bearings, belts and chains where heat can be generated.

There is a good article from a Michigan State University Extension web page as well as an article from Dick Nicolai, a South Dakota Extension specialist, that both provided advice regarding how to prevent and how to be prepared for combine fires. Some of their safety recommendations include:

• Keep the combine as clean as possible. During harvest, frequently blow dry chaff, leaves and other crop materials off the machine. Remove any materials that have wrapped around bearings, belts and other moving parts. Be sure to check those pockets that house wires or lights and where chaff accumulates.

• Keep wiring and fuses in proper working condition. Check wiring and insulation for rodent damage and replace as needed.

• Keep fittings greased and watch for overheated bearings.

• Use a ground chain attached to the combine frame to prevent static charges from igniting dry chaff and harvest residue, letting the chain drag on the ground while in the field.

• Prior to fueling a hot combine, wait 15 minutes to reduce the risk of a spill volatilizing and igniting.

• Don’t park a hot combine in the shed or shop. After a long day of harvesting, smoldering hot spots may be present in the combine. If those spots suddenly flare up, at least you won’t lose the building!

Keep at least one fully-charged, 10-pound ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher with an Underwriter’s Laboratory approval in the combine cab.

• Mount a second, larger fire extinguisher on the outside of the machine at a height easily reached from ground level.

• Have a plan if a fire starts. Turn off the engine; get the fire extinguisher and your phone. Get out and get help. Stay a safe distance away and call 911 before beginning to extinguish the fire.

• Approach the fire with extreme caution. Small fires can flare up quickly with the addition of air (by opening doors or hatches).

Stink Bugs moving indoors

By now, most of us are familiar with the brown marmorated stink bug, the new invasive stink bug that feeds on soybean, corn, fruits and vegetables. As the cool weather returns over the next few weeks, we will see BMSB come into homes — and infestations can be large. They will spend the winter as adults in homes, emerging once temperatures warm in the spring.

According to Andy Michel, OSU Extension Specialist, Entomology, apart from making a smell when they are disturbed, BMSB are not harmful to people. Nor do they cause any damage to buildings, though seeing them in the house is sometimes bothersome. Michel says that a simple way to remove the stink bugs is to collect them in a plastic bag or jar and put them in the freezer for a day or so to kill them. Use a tissue or a plastic glove as they can leave a stain on skin or fabric when handling.

Another method to pick up individual stink bugs is to use the sticky side of a piece of packing or duct tape, which can then be stashed in a bag for freezing. You can also vacuum them and toss them outside (do this quickly otherwise they may crawl out of the vacuum if not immediately killed, and they can stink up your vacuum). Michel does not recommend insecticides in the home, mainly because more will continue to come in, and they do not cause any damage. A good way to limit home invasions is to seal windows, doors and cracks.

By Rob Leeds

OSU Extension

Rob Leeds is an Ohio State University Extension Educator for Delaware County.

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