The Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) has urged its members and farmer clients to coordinate silage harvesting by communicating with each other beforehand. The FCI emphasised that farmers and their advisors could benefit from arranging their work activities by having a conversation or meeting before the work starts. This will enable contractors and farmers to reach a common understanding and establish clear roles, responsibilities, and actions, as well as allowing them to manage health and safety risks.
As silage season is set to hit its stride in the coming weeks, the contractor organisation has outlined some advice for farmers. This includes preparing the farm and silage pit area in advance of the contractor’s arrival, and having field gates open and clear of obstructions. The FCI also advises farmers to put a traffic management plan in place to reduce risks around a busy yard.
The association has reminded farmers that any risks from farm work need to be reasonably managed to protect the health and safety of contractors and their operators. There may be new risks from any previous work carried out on the farm that need to be managed. It is important that farmers know that there can be strictly no passengers or children in machine cabs. The contractor needs to check with the farmer if there are children on the farm and how they are cared for. The FCI has reminded farmers and contractors that children under the age of seven cannot be legally carried on a tractor.
The FCI has also advised farmers and contractors to agree in advance who will be responsible for covering the silage pit and to agree in advance if there is to be an additional charge for this job. The FCI pointed out that, as it takes over an hour to cover most silage pits, this will equate to lost time on the next job for the contractor and their team. Farmers need to be aware of the value of this service in covering silage pits for farmer customers. The FCI appeals to farmers to appreciate just how much the silage pit-covering process costs and how it impacts on the ability of the agricultural contractor to move to the next neighbouring farm, so farmers need to think of other farmers in the national silage harvesting campaign.
The group emphasised that despite the level of urgency surrounding the silage harvesting, the workflow can be made easier and less stressful by taking time to plan. The key to a smooth workflow is a combination of good planning and good communication, according to the FCI. The association has also advised farmers to ensure that they have adequate insurance cover in place and that they have checked that their contractor has the necessary insurance to cover the work being carried out on their farm.
The FCI is the representative organisation for contractors in the agricultural, forestry and amenity sectors in Ireland. The association aims to promote and represent the interests of its members and to ensure that the contracting industry is recognised as a professional and integral part of the Irish agricultural and forestry sectors.
In conclusion, the FCI’s advice to farmers and contractors is to communicate effectively and plan ahead to ensure that the silage harvesting process runs smoothly and safely. By taking the time to plan and communicate, farmers and contractors can ensure that they are meeting their health and safety obligations, that they are delivering a high-quality service to their customers, and that they are protecting their own interests and those of their colleagues and employees.