Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Safe use of farm machinery a priority for IRRI Experiment Station


Los Ba├▒os, Philippines -The objective of continuous improvement in farm operations of the Experiment Station is top priority for James Quilty, head of the Experiment Station (ES). In collaboration with the IRRI Training Center and the Postharvest Unit, nine staff members of the IRRI Experiment Station consisting of mechanics, operators, and field supervisors, attended the second batch of a three-day training course on Farm Machinery Safety and Operation on 1-3 December 2015 at the IRRI Training Center.

The training activity was designed to hone the skills and knowledge of ES staff in the safe operation and maintenance of machines used in IRRI’s experimental fields and facilities. The training was facilitated by Joseph Rickman, Martin Gummert, Nguyen Van Hung, and Carlito Balingbing from the Postharvest Unit. Safety was highlighted, as well as the important role of communication between the operators, the mechanics, and the warehouse staff in keeping the tractor fleet and equipment functioning efficiently and safely on the farm. “Everybody’s got to work together. It’s not just the operators’ job. The operator should remind the mechanic what’s not working and the warehouse must provide the needed parts,” Rickman said.

During the three-day course, participants updated their theoretical knowledge via classroom discussion and their practical skills in appropriate maintenance and operation of farm equipment, which includes tractors with implements (i.e., rotovator, mower, and baler) and combine harvesters. Roger Elbo, a senior Trained Crop and Pesticide Application (TCPA) technician, appreciated the training because, on top of learning how to drive and park machines correctly, which he learned from fellow technicians, his basic skills in preparing equipment through proper hitching (and unhitching) and maintenance checks through WOGAM (water, oil, gas, air, and miscellaneous) were also reinforced. At the end of the training course, participants were given an exam (both theoretical and practical) to assess what they had learned. The results will be the basis for issuing certificates and accreditation to operators of farm machinery at ES.

James Quilty is keen on instituting the certification of all equipment operators and mechanics at ES to ensure safety and that farm machinery are taken care of and properly maintained. The agricultural engineers of the Postharvest Unit will be the ones giving accreditation exams to farm equipment operators based on the needs of ES. Martin Gummert, head of the Postharvest Unit, expressed his support for the collaboration, which is a step forward in IRRI’s R&D mechanization strategy.

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