Combine harvesters are taking more and more punishment as the wet harvest drags on, sending insurance claims spiralling, says rural insurer NFU Mutual.

Farmers are setting combine cutting tables very low to pick up lodged crops, causing stones and other debris to be fed into the machines, damaging sieves and concaves.

NFU Mutual spokesman Tim Price said: “A worrying number of claims for damage to combines and other vehicles which have collided as farmers struggle to cope with waterlogged fields have also been reported.

“But this year’s harvest have been so wet that combine fires have dropped considerably. So far this year, claims for combines destroyed by fire remain in single figures, compared with over 70 last year.”

Struggle

As conditions worsened and farmers struggled to recover rapidly deteriorating corps, it was imperative that safety remained operators’ top priority.

NFU Mutual has prepared a checklist to remind farmers where serious accidents can occur in the rush to get crops in the shed.

Resist the urge to keep going when temperature gauges are ‘in the red’ or bearings are running hot.

While clearing blockages or carrying out maintenance ensure machines are switched off and parts have stopped moving – taking short cuts still leads to horrific injuries and deaths.

Hazards

You can never over do cleaning out dust and chaff from hot spots. This is just as important in difficult weather when dusty crops can lead to high build-ups of debris.

Power lines are a major harvest hazard. Forgetting that the kit you are using is taller than the machine it replaced has led to a number of electrocutions, while other accidents have resulted from lines sagging and hitting machines that passed safely the previous year.

During poor weather or breaks between crops thoroughly clean combines, balers and other machinery and make sure that extinguishers are in place and in working order.

Make sure mud deposited on roads on roads is cleared up quickly.