Guide for safe harvest
Farmers urged to consider the fire danger risks
The NSW Rural Fire Service is asking landholders and harvesting operators in the Mid-Murray Zone to make use of the Voluntary Grain Harvesting Guide this fire season.
The guide is designed for farmers and contractors to make an informed decision at the local level, based on a set of identified weather conditions.
Mid-Murray Zone Inspector Doug Adamson said it was developed specifically as a harvesting guide, and fire authorities are also using it as a guide when considering permit burn applications this season.
He said the decision to cross-reference the guide was based on the high number of outof-control permit burns last year.
‘‘There would have been well over 20 outof-control permit burns in the Mid-Murray area alone last year,’’ Insp Adamson said.
‘‘It was almost double the year earlier, and probably the worst I’ve seen since joining the zone in 2004.
‘‘These escaped burns caused a lot of trouble for landholders, their neighbours and for our firefighters.
‘‘We had three or four harvest fires last season, some of which resulted in the loss of headers.’’
Insp Adamson said those operating harvesting machinery need to take a proactive approach to minimise the risk of fire in certain conditions.
‘‘The New South Wales RFS appreciates the cooperation of farmers on days of heightened fire danger, and a few hours of downtime lowers the risk of fires breaking out and can prevent a great deal of damage.
‘‘Maintenance of machinery is also key, and farmers need to be aware of the ramifications of their actions.
‘‘Last year there was high fuel loading, and many got caught out by the conditions.’’
Insp Adamson said the guide was developed in partnership with New South Wales Farmers’ Association and Australian Custom Harvesters.
He said it was created after listening to the concerns about broad area cease harvesting rulings.
‘‘The Voluntary Grain Harvesting Guide is easy to use and compact enough to have readily accessible, whether it’s in the harvester cabin, shed or home,’’ Insp Adamson said.
‘‘Using this step by step approach can determine if the current conditions need harvesting operations to stop until the weather is safe to return to the paddock.’’
You can access and download the guide through the New South Wales RFS website, with current and forecast Fire Danger Ratings also available at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au.
The Bush Fire Danger Period for the Mid Murray Zone started on October 1.