Craigmore has a focus on ensuring that our people have a proper understanding of how to operate and maintain vehicles to a safe standard.

In the last season, Ant Sutherland from Sutherland On-Farm Solutions has provided practical on-farm training to all dairy farm staff. Farm Managers were upskilled to become trainers and standard operating procedures were developed to support the training process.

Thanks to this process, we have seen an increase in the understanding of legal requirements, how to operate vehicles safely on flat and sloped terrain, as well as a reduction in vehicle repairs and maintenance.

We also examined how our people were using vehicles and identified that towing irrigation pods on sloped terrain was a potential hazard. This practice had been the norm on several Craigmore farms, but it is a high-risk activity which could, in some situations, cause the vehicle to roll-over and cause injury to the operator.

Fixed grid irrigation, which replaces portable irrigation pods, was identified as the most appropriate solution. This change removed the hazard but also increased grass growth and used irrigation water more efficiently.

Horticulture safety barriers

We know through industry data, that the greatest risk of fatality on orchards arises from using vehicles on or near steep terrain. These statistics align with reports of agricultural sector fatalities, with reports often citing the use of quad bikes and farm vehicles such as tractors, as inherently hazardous.

To mitigate these risks, Craigmore has identified and installed barriers along those areas on some of our orchards where it was possible for a vehicle to lose control and go over a steep edge. These barriers are particularly relevant to roads or tracks where vehicles coming out of the rows of trees or vines and are going downhill towards a bank, or where the roads or tracks are narrow, and vehicles need to manoeuvre close to the edge (Image 1).

In addition to installing the barriers, we have also planted ‘safety margins’ in some areas and recognised other areas and are preparing these for planting in the future (Image 2). Planted safety margins prevent vehicles, such as mowers, from getting too close to an edge as they no longer need to maintain that area. This solution is aimed at ensuring the weight of vehicles on an unprotected, and potentially soft edge, do not cause it to collapse, dragging the vehicle over.

Image 1 – barriers installed in high risk areas

Image 2 – safety margins for future planting

Published: 27 April 2023