Viewing posts from: October 2017

ATVs Pose Safety Risks for Farmers

Posted October 18, 2017 by Administrator

ATVs are a popular method of transportation on farms. However, as their use increases, so do the number of related accidents and injuries. What is more, up to one-third of those incidents involve children. In 2014, ATV accidents represented almost 94,000 trips to the emergency room. These numbers have continued to rise in the intervening years. To reduce the likelihood of injury while using an ATV, farmers need to take several precautions.

ATV Precautions for Farm Safety

ATVs represent such a significant hazard for farmers for several reasons. For starters, family members tend to use them for recreation when the farmer does not need it for work. If a child wants to ride an ATV, the farmer needs to ensure the adolescent is on an appropriate sized ATV. When a child drives an adult-sized ATV, the risk of an accident skyrockets. In addition, any rider needs to equip the appropriate gear. This includes:

  • A helmet with a face shield OR appropriate goggles
  • Gloves
  • Boots
  • Long pants
  • A jacket or long-sleeved shirt

Farmers should also stress that ATVs should only have one rider at a time. Riding with more than one individual increases the likelihood of an accident. Another common source of accidents is riding ATVs on the road. ATV wheels are best suited to terrain, not pavement, gravel, or dirt.

ATVs and Liquid Tank Safety Precautions

Another issue to consider is if the ATV has a liquid tank. Many ATVs used for farming have such tanks to help with pesticide application. These tanks change the center of gravity for the ATV, making them easier to roll. The sloshing of liquids compounds this problem. Below are several recommendations to reduce risk while operating ATVs with liquid tanks:

  • Inform another farmhand or family member before using an ATV. Let the individual know how long you plan to be using the vehicle.
  • Equip the tank with internal baffles to diminish the likelihood of sloshing water.
  • Make slow turns to account for water movement inside the tank.
  • Survey the land beforehand to learn of any holes, large rocks, and other obstructions.

While ATVs have their uses on the farm, improper use can result in catastrophe. Farmers should familiarize themselves and anyone else operating an ATV on basic ATV safety to avoid accidents and injuries. To learn more about reducing risks and hazards on the farm, contact the experts at Cline Wood.

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FBI Warns Agricultural Industry about Increasing Cyber Risk

Posted October 11, 2017 by Administrator

In a Private Industry Notification (PIN) targeted to the agricultural industry, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Cyber Division warned the food and agriculture sector that it is increasingly becoming vulnerable to cyber attacks. As the adoption of technology and digital data increases in the farming community, cyber crime is on the rise. Smart farming practices, also known as the “Third Green Revolution” or “precision agriculture technology” has shown tremendous positive impacts on reducing the costs of farming and increasing crop yields. The report warns farmers to be aware of and understand the cyber risks associated with using modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and develop adequate cyber security and breach response strategies.

A Growing Threat

There is a growing threat of cyber targeting activity against the food and agriculture sector, warns the FBI. Cyber criminals are seeking to steal farm-level data in bulk. An example of how valuable this information is, government-authorized big data analytics are being used to aggregate farm-level data to track and even anticipate crop pricing and availability. Another target by cyber attackers could be to steal aggregate and/or analyzed data to exploit U.S. agriculture resources and market trends.

Other threats include:

  • Increased cyber targeting of farm-level data gathered by equipment that collects and analyzes data about soil content and past crop yields, including planting recommendations.
  • Cyber hacking of public worldwide climate and crop data used to design data visualization tools for farmers. Big data in agriculture is being used to help farmers make sustainable decisions that have an impact on food supply.
  • Susceptibility to ransomware and data destruction.
  • Drone manufacturers are focused on offering low pricing structures for farmers by using systems that are interoperable with networked devices with poor cyber security protections.

Challenges

Historically, the farming industry has lacked awareness of how to protect their data from cyber exploitation.

  • In a 2014 American Farm Bureau study of 3,400 farmers, almost half intended to invest in smart farming technologies in the next 2 years. However, 76% of the respondents expressed concerns that unauthorized individuals could hack their data and use it for commodity market speculation. Even more concerning is the finding that less than 5% of companies holding their data had a security breach response plan in place.
  • Drone manufacturers offering farmers recognize the demand for low pricing. They use interoperable data in order to keep costs low at the expense of more expensive analytics that protect against cyber attacks. Farmers have depended on drone RGB (red, green, blue) photography and thermography to monitor crop growth for the last decade. (CyberTrend, 2016.)

Recommendations

The report warns the food and agriculture industry to increase awareness of the cyber risks to farm-level data collected through precision technology and urges that farmers take the following precautionary measures:

  • Ask data management companies that store farm-level data to reveal their cyber security features and ensure adequate protections are in place.
  • Monitor employee logins, especially those that occur outside normal business hours.
  • Develop a centralized Information Technology email account that can be used to report suspicious logins, emails and other unusual activity
  • Provide ongoing training to remind and inform employees about current cyber security threats
  • Monitor outgoing data, and be ready to block unknown IP addresses
  • Monitor unusual traffic, especially from non-standard ports
  • Close unused ports
  • Create a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for remote login capability.

The FBI, in conjunction with the USDA, strongly urges members of the food and agriculture sector to refer to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team Website for additional cyber security information and resources.

Cline Wood is here to help farmers and agricultural-related businesses protect themselves against the growing risk of cyber crime. Contact us today to learn more about how our agribusiness insurance experts can help you be prepared in today’s changing environment.

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Five Tips for Agribusinesses to Combat White Mold

Posted October 4, 2017 by Administrator

Farmers face a variety of hurdles in order to cultivate a successful crop. White mold is just one of those obstacles. This fungus thrives in cool damp environments. Foggy and brisk mornings create the perfect conditions for white mold to take root.

At first, individuals may mistake the fungus as rat droppings. It presents as firm, black, asymmetrical-shaped forms; these are sclerotia. When the environment cools and the canopy closes, the growth produces tiny mushrooms. The fungus is most likely to take hold during flowering as spores land on dead flowers and invade the plant.

How to Deal with White Mold

By the time the fungus is noticeable, the infestation is two to four weeks old. Below are several tips farmers should keep in mind when dealing with white mold.

  1. No spray can stop the mold once it has taken root. Save time and money by allowing the mold to run its course. In general, white mold does not colonize from plant to plant. It is possible, but not typical.
  2. Farmers do not need to fear for their entire farm. A field must have sclerotia present in order for the fungus to grow. However, farmers will want to take note of any infected fields, as they will always have sclerotia after an infection.
  3. Farmers should harvest infected fields last. Sclerotia lodge themselves in all areas of combine harvesters, so farmers can inadvertently contaminate other fields if they harvest from infested fields first.
  4. Once harvesting is complete, farmers should avoid tilling infected fields. Surface level sclerotia will die off faster than those buried underground will.
  5. Farmers should also stay vigilant in their weed removal. White mold can take hold in a variety of plants, including weeds, legumes, and alfalfa. For future crops, farmers should consider wheat or corn for previously infected fields, as they are more resistant to the fungus.

Dealing with mold is never a fun task, but farmers who follow the above guidelines can keep future infestations to a minimum. Farmers can also protect their venture by investing in farming insurance. As the leading provider of agribusiness insurance, Cline Wood can help farmers identify and mitigate risks to their crops and fields. To learn more, contact us today.

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