Calls for best practice as cotton harvest nears

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Industry peak body Cotton Australia has called on growers to implement best practice as they prepare for this year’s harvest.

With harvesting season almost upon us there is a lot of preparation to be done, but staying on top of industry standards is crucial to getting the most out of a good crop.

Cotton Australia Toowoomba general manager, Michael Murray, says that best practice doesn’t stop at the farmer, and passing on the information to new staff and contractors is the only way to ensure the standard of the entire industry.

“Make sure staff are fully briefed and inducted on safe harvest operations but also ensure that the contractors that they might use are taking the trouble to brief their staff,” he says.

Mr Murray says that following transport guidelines and monitoring moisture content were areas that growers also needed to be aware of when preparing for harvest.

 

Safety

  • Get up to date with the Cotton Australia Safety Guide.
  • Talk with and actively engage your workers and contractors in identifying and assessing all known environmental, mechanical, electrical and operational type hazards and risks around the farm.
  • Develop and implement a plan and procedures to manage safety risks.
  • Conduct a pre-harvest safety induction for every crew member and ensure your contractor has done the same for all their contract workers.

Transport

  • Get up to date with the transport regulations and guidelines.
  • Harvested cotton must be adequately compacted into rectangle or round modules so as to avoid loose modules that may be inclined to break during loading, transport or unloading at gin site;
  • Modules must not be too heavy that they may create an over-weight load for trucks;
  • Modules must properly covered in tarpaulins or wrapped;
  • Modules must constructed and/or presented on even pads to facilitate loading, including correct alignment onto trailer decks for transport; and
  • Check all modules are adequately restrained on trailers prior to leaving the farm (including monitoring the practices of your transport contractor).

Quality control

  • Monitor moisture frequently to ensure crop is not damaged
  • Pick at the right times
  • Well-calibrated moisture monitors, and dew point charts, are both useful tools to reduce fibre contamination risk
  • Harvesting seed cotton at moisture levels more than 12% is not recommended

Hygiene

Maintaining good hygiene practises prevents the spread of insects, weed seeds, pests and diseases across the industry.

  • Machinery that should be inspected: cotton pickers, boll buggies, module builders, mulchers, laser buckets, cultivators, chain beds and headers.
  • Growers should also consider farm hygiene when moving equipment from farm to farm within their region.
  • Growers need to clearly communicate with contractors, ensuring everybody follows appropriate farm hygiene.
  • All machinery should be cleaned by the contractor before they contact the machinery inspector. The inspectors should be given at least 8 hours notice.
  • Growers should ask to see the ‘Inspection Certificate’ to ensure that the clean down has been carried out

More information is available from the Cotton Australia ‘Be Harvest Ready’ document.