Farm workers face perils in grain bins, silos

Capital News Service
LANSING – As farmers move grain from harvested fields to large cylindrical silos and bins, these traditional agricultural symbols can become death traps for farmers. At least 38 grain storage structure incidents occurred throughout the country last year – up 15 percent since 2013 – and 17 of the 38 cases were fatal, according to the Agricultural Safety and Health Program at Purdue University. Two of the incidents happened in Michigan, including the death of 30-year-old Eric Rodman, who was engulfed by soybeans after falling into a rail car at the Andersons Grain Group in St. Joseph County. In the other incident, 67-year-old Mike Thrams was trapped inside a grain bin in Branch County, where flowing corn rose to his diaphragm.

Snow delays spring corn planting, asparagus harvest

Capital News Service
LANSING — Farmers may be off to a late start this year after snowfall and low temperatures put them behind schedule. There is good news and bad news associated with the snow. The heavy snow insulated the ground, protecting micro-organisms that are good for corn. But the high water remaining in fields could strain the industry, said corn grower Scott Lonier, owner of Lonier Farms near Lansing. “We are at the mercy of Mother Nature right now,” he said.

Some farmers bank on drought-resistant corn

Capital News Service
LANSING – Despite heavy rain, flooding and cold weather, drought-resistant corn could still be helpful to farmers this season. Michigan Corn Growers Association leaders agreed that recent wet weather won’t be bad for corn designed to withstand drought conditions because it will be planted in areas that don’t hold water as well. They added that the corn could still serve its original purpose if there’s little rain in July and August. “Just because we have a bunch of rain now doesn’t mean there won’t be a drought later,” said Scott Lonier, owner of Shady Lodge Farm in Lansing Township and president of the association. However, he said he didn’t buy drought-resistant corn this year because it didn’t yield much better than refuge corn – corn that’s not genetically modified – last year.