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28 September 2012

Grain Dust and Mold avoid asthma and farmers lung and wear a proper mask!

Del Voight
Got this from ISU in the email thought it was important enough to get onto my blog.  Read through this and hopefully you will be moved enough to take your own safety into mind as well as farm workers hauling grain and in all phases of the grain handling at the farm.  I know last season I followed a combine doing a harvest and sucked in who knows how much dust only to spend the next week feeling like a pneumonia case coughing constantly. I now keep a mask in the truck for this purpose.


Iowa Harvest Exposure to Mold and Dust in Grain   ISU
Grain dust is always a health concern for Iowa farmers and those working in the grain industry. Drought conditions this year may elevate human and animal health concerns because of increased dust and mold exposure. The Iowa Department of Public Health has issued 2012 Iowa Harvest Exposure to Mold and Dust in Grain, a fact sheet covering the following information.
The drought has created conditions favorable for an increase in dust and the production of aspergillus mold and associated aflatoxins. Exposure to low levels of grain dust during normal working conditions often causes reactions that are a nuisance, such as a cough, sore throat, nose and eye irritation, or feeling stuffed up or congested. People with chronic breathing problems or asthma may experience more symptoms or asthma attacks when exposed to high dust and mold levels.
Exposures to moldy and dusty grain, especially large exposures, may also cause two specific medical conditions with similar symptoms:
  1. Farmer’s Lung or Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis (FHP) – a fairly uncommon condition (one in 20 farmers) caused by a delayed allergic reaction to the dust. Repeated exposures can lead to permanent lung damage or limitations to work. A medical provider should be consulted.
  2. Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome (ODTS) – a more common toxic response to dust, molds, bacteria, or toxins in the grain dust. Recovery is usually in a few days, but a medical provider should be consulted.
Common symptoms include cough, headache, chest tightness, muscle aches, fever or generally not feeling well. If you have any of these symptoms, see your medical provider.

What you can do to protect yourself during harvest

  • Avoid direct exposures to dust whenever possible.
  • When working in extremely dusty conditions use a NIOSH-approved and certified “N-95” respirator that fits you properly. HOWEVER, consult your medical provider before using a respirator. Individuals with heart and lung conditions or other respiratory limitations should not use a respirator. N-95 respirators must be used only with a clean shaven face to ensure proper fit.
  • People with chronic respiratory health issues should avoid dust exposure.
  • If you have been exposed to large amounts of dust and you begin to feel ill, you should contact your medical provider for a proper medical evaluation.

Chuck Schwab is a professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering and the agricultural health and safety specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. He can be reached at cvschwab@iastate.edu or 515-294-4131.

24 September 2012

Harvest status 9/24/12

Confirmed yields national/state Contests where yields are certified by third party Agronomists.
Corn244bu/a
185
213
219
283

Soy87 bulacre
90
94
95
95

01 September 2012

Corn Silage Pricing ideas Dr. Greg Roth

Corn Silage Yield estimates with our spreadsheets (http://www.das.psu.edu/dairy-alliance/xls/pricingstandingcornforsilage-revised.xlsx ) this fall, we (Tim Beck, Virginia Ishler and I)  found that the price depends on where you are measuring it at.  At $7.00/bushel corn and a delivered price of $75.00, corn standing in the field was worth about $45/ton in one of our scenarios.  According to the NASS Custom Rates (http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Pennsylvania/Publications/Machinery_Custom_Rates/custom11.pdf) it costs about $9.60 a ton to chop haul and fill silo, so its worth about $55/ton in the silo, before its fermented.

These are close to the old rule of thumb estimates that corn silage is worth 8-10 times the value of shelled corn. I suspect the range is somewhat due to where you are measuring it.

Corn Silage and Disease Considerations

Del Voight- Penn State Extension
There are many questions as to the silage quality. Corn Kernels are germinating on the plant in some fields, various diseases are being observed on the ears as well as the stalks.  The decision will need to made on a case by case basis with inspection of  fields for which is the most prevalent disease and even then it will come down to a quality analysis and a mycotoxin screening. 

Forage Quality: Nutrient Composition

Page also has some factsheets on Mycotoxins, Nitrates, and other toxicity problems.
Is the dust safe?  Greg Roth related a recent article dealing with the dust. The bottom line is you will not know if the dust is safe to you or your workers so proceed as if it is not safe and use a respirator.  Flood corn silage polluted dust
"Can I chop and feed this stuff?"

In most cases "Yes" the grower can chop and feed this stuff. Soil on the plants will raise the issue of Clostridium growth and in a recent conversion with my veterinarian we vaccinated all my cattle with Ultrabac 8 that will prevent toxic affects from soil that might be on my fall pastures. He related that he is vaccinating all the dairy herds for this purpose of the likelyhood of soil being mixed into the forages.  Again testing forages is essential for mycotoxins.  There should be no feed toxicity issues with common rust and smut for corn silage. Mycotoxins can develop and are associated with temperature extremes. Due to the stresses encountered by the crop and the diseases expressed, quality as measured by milk per ton and milk per acre will likely be decreased.
Craig R. Grau  of Wisconin Extension had the following comment on a thread I read.  The key decision will be to ensile at the proper moisture for the storage structure to ensure adequate fermentation and preservation. That will likely be tricky due to the variabilty of the plants in the field.
Once the field is ensiled, a quality analysis should be done to see how badly quality was affected. A mycotoxin test should also be performed. Little research is available for multiple stress effects on silage quality. It may be correct and prudent that feeding should be limited to heifers, but a forage quality analysis will give the grower and nutritionist some confidence as to what kind of forage they are delaing with.
We had some reports of black dust on the silage could be smut due to the previous wind damage.  Paul Esker also from Wisconsin Extension wrote the following in another thread I read.... Smut galls are not poisonous to animals, but they will increase the dust content of dry matter. The acids in silage are typically enough to kill the spores. Interestingly, if the stalks, leaves, and ears are fed to animals, the smut spores can survive through the alimentary canal and be passed through into the manure. If this is spread onto fields, this can become a source of inoculum for infecting new corn plants. Also, smut is considered a delicacy in many parts of Central and South America. As for rust, the main concern would be if there is some decrease in palatability. Much of the work has examined the effect of southern rust (Puccinia polysora) and lower silage quality (mainly due to early plant death). If the forage is ensiled, the fermentation process would be expected to kill the fungus, thus reducing the concern of an unpalatable food source.