Dairy farm worker safety training promotes injury free farming
Regular Thursday morning meetings at Edaleen Dairy inform dairy workers about farm topics including focus on preventing on-the-job injuries
Mitch Moorlag, General Manager at Edaleen Dairy near Lynden, oversees health and production for 1,600 milking cows and 125 fulltime employees – 20 of whom work directly on the farm operation as milkers and herdsmen. Since the milking of cows requires care and maintenance 24 hours a day and seven days a week, Edaleen Dairy conducts regular Thursday morning meetings for the “farm team” between shifts.
“We want all the employees there to hear the latest farm notices including focus on one key worker safety topic each week,” Moorlag says, “with special emphasis on our milkers and herdsmen who are in direct contact with the animals every day. We emphasize alertness and prevention, and as a result we have had very few workplace injuries in recent years.”
“We developed a safety handbook for our field staff that is a compilation of safety information from the Washington State Farm Bureau and from other dairy operations our size,” he said. “It is a work in progress that we regularly update and refer to during our Thursday meetings.”
Dairy farm worker injuries are 20% less than construction industry injuries, according to recent data from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I), even though dairy farms are in continuous, round-the-clock operation. Farmer worker safety is at the top of every dairy operator’s list as labor is a key factor in the operation of a multi-faceted dairy farm.
“Cutting down on the severity of injuries comes from good education and training for the employees, with a safety program and policies in place. You can’t just turn people loose on a tractor or in a pen with animals,” says Corwyn Fischer, Washington State Farm Bureau, and one of three Safety Directors who provide farmer/farm manager safety training statewide. “Safety training during the first year is important as ‘new hires’ are most vulnerable to common injuries.”
Manure nutrient application training helps farmers apply at the right time, place, rate and source
During a four-hour manure-nutrient management session, a packed room of Ag-producers hear experts describe best management practices, rules/regulatory updates and required record keeping for water quality
More than 200 dairy farmers, livestock ranchers, berry growers, consultants, technicians and custom pumpers attended one of three, 4-hour Manure Nutrient Management Training events in western Washington during January and February. Organized by the Whatcom Conservation District in cooperation with the Snohomish County and King County conservation districts and funded by a grant from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), the Lynden event attracted 100 participants; the Stanwood event drew 56 participants; and 64 participants attended a session in Enumclaw.
During the training sessions, attendees heard from experts who described manure lagoon developments, current regulations, record keeping rules and tools, agronomics and proper manure use and handling. The workshops were organized to educate farmers and others with current information on manure issues, including risk management to avoid problems and tips on maximizing the use of manure-based fertilizer and composting. Video and copies of PowerPoint presentations are available online at www.wadairyplan.org/special-events
According to Dr. Nichole Embertson, Nutrient Management Specialist with the Whatcom Conservation District – who helped organize the workshops – each manure management segment got a good response. “The content of the manure nutrient management and related information resonated with participants,” she said, “who seemed to value the interactive nature of the sessions.”
Presentations included “Manure Lagoon Management” with Chris Clark, Whatcom Conservation District Biosystems Engineer; “Current Manure Use Regulations” with Chery Sullivan, WSDA Technical and Compliance Specialist; “Recordkeeping Rules and Tools” with Michael Isensee, WSDA Whatcom County Dairy Inspector and Technical Compliance Specialist; “Agronomics for Nutrient Management” with Andy Bary, Washington State University (WSU) Soil Scientist; and “Manure Application Risk Management” with Dr. Embertson from the Whatcom Conservation District.
Chris Clark told participants that there are multiple potential sources of nitrate contamination – including irrigated crop agriculture, dairy farms and local sewage systems. In some areas, nitrogen-rich ground water also flows south to Whatcom Country from British Columbia. “When you look at well data,” he said, “in some areas, we are seeing nitrate levels going down significantly since 2008 due to improved nutrient management.”
Anaerobic digestion webinar on April 6 will provide tools to assess economics of manure recovery technologies
WSU webinars focused on anaerobic digestion system technology and economic and environmental modeling
Although anaerobic digestion (AD) systems have been in use on dairy farms for many years, dairy farmers often struggle to get unbiased information about productivity, functionality and the economics of digestion systems.
Thanks to a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA)grant, Washington State University (WSU) and USDA researchers explored the latest advances in anaerobic digestion technology and developed economic tools to assist farmers as they assess the feasibility of making such a substantial investment. Anaerobic digestion systems reduce odor and greenhouse gases, produce renewable energy, protect water quality and create useful by-products such as nutrient-rich compost and soil amendments.
The WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR), in collaboration with public- and private-sector partners, recruited experts to present the new data and economic tools in a five-part webinar series. The webinars were launched in February with about 85 participants for each webinar – mainly private industry and agency professionals, though also including researchers and extension specialists, non-profit staff, livestock/dairy producers and interested others. The webinars focused on anaerobic digestion system technology and economic and environmental modeling. All webinars are recorded and freely available online athttp://csanr.wsu.edu/webinars/anaerobic-digestion/
USDA Economic Research Service Economist Dr. Gregory Astill will present the fourth webinar in the series: “An Introduction to the Anaerobic Digestion System Enterprise Budget Calculator” on April 6 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. To join the webinar, register here
According to Georgine Yorgey, CSANR Assistant Director, the calculator described in the webinar can be tailored to reflect an AD system on a particular farm’s situation. It can then be used to explore the conditions under which the system is likely to be economically feasible. “Anaerobic technologies continue to evolve significantly for nutrient management and economic feasibility,” she said. “The digester calculator is a simple Excel spreadsheet tool that can help a dairy decide whether or not a digester makes sense.”
Dairyland News is distributed to dairy farm families, business leaders/dairy farm suppliers, government staff, elected officials, and news media to show how dairy farmers contribute to the community, with safe operations, best farm management practices and effective stewardship of land and animals. Dairyland News is produced by the Washington Dairy Products Commission in cooperation with the Washington State Dairy Federation.
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