Summer wildfires are commonplace in Alberta, but this year’s unusually warm, dry spring produced an especially difficult season. Fires sprung up earlier than usual and grew larger and burned longer than normal. They also encroached on farmland where they destroyed pastures and fences and depleted food and water sources for livestock as farmers scrambled to repair the damage.
The Ag for Life Rural Safety Unit redeployed in August of 2022 at Whoop-Up Days in Lethbridge. The mobile trailer attraction allows children and their families to learn about the hazards of rural life through digital games, hands-on learning experiences and print resources.
An industry-led organization formed in 2018, AgSafe Alberta works with farmers and ranchers to improve the safety of their operations. GrainsWest spoke with Jody Wacowich, the organization’s executive director, about the launch of FARMERS CARE, a farm safety program that will eventually feature four bite-sized levels.
Farmers require PPE for themselves and their employees during daily operation as well as to satisfy Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) requirements where necessary. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus on the healthcare sector as well as a greater volume of use by the general public has created a shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) in the agriculture sector.
One of the non-COVID-19 challenges we faced on our farm this spring is dealing with flax straw—a tenacious material that needs to be removed from the field before seeding. We had dropped it in windrows behind the combine last fall but it blew all over the field in a windstorm before the baler arrived. We finally accumulated it into bunches suitable for burning this spring, but then we faced dry conditions, strong winds and a county fire restriction that prevented us from burning.