Tips to help prevent combine fires this harvest season

Farmers are capitalizing on dry weather as they hustle to harvest this year’s crop. However, experts warn that ideal conditions could ignite catastrophe in the field by way of combine fires.

Josie Rudolphi, an assistant professor and agriculture safety and health extension specialist at the University of Illinois, says that the majority of combine fires occur because the machine is not properly cleaned.

“The major causes of combine fires, it typically via like ignition of trash or debris, organic matter that’s moving through the combine. It gets hot, gets clogged up, and it may then result in a combine fires,” she said.

Rudolphi added that it is important to address routine maintenance, even when things are going well.

“Routine maintenance can sometimes kind of fall to the wayside,” she said. “Those rain days are typically the days we perform a lot of routine maintenance and without those rain days we just go, go, go; we don’t always check our machines like we should. We think everything is going really, really well and we just don’t want to jinx it.”

She notes that it is best to take a few minutes to clear debris from the machine at the start of each day and tackle a few other preventive maintenance checks. Otherwise, at the end of the day things get a little more challenging when dealing with a hot machine.

Cleaning the machine is simple to do, use a leaf blower or air compressor, and have the tools ready in the field.

Additionally, while working in the field, if you need to address an issue with the machine-- shut it off.

While 2020 may offer smooth harvest conditions, Rudolphi adds that does not always mean a good harvest outcome.

“Perfect conditions don’t always mean a perfect outcome so take your time and be safe,” she said.