Farmers should consider zoning their farms into areas in which children can go and other areas where they are never allowed, according to NFU vice president Guy Smith.

Speaking on the opening day of Grassland & Muck 2014, Mr Smith said there were some parts of farms – for example around slurry stores – where children should never be.

“Farmers need to think if they were running a factory they would not have children running around. They need to think about the risks and zone them accordingly.”

Mr Smith stressed he was not saying that a farm was no place for children, but it was an issue that needed to be addressed.

The number of deaths in farming – adults as well as children – was “unacceptably bad”, he said.

The issues was complicated but farmers needed to be less cavalier about safety issues.

“Our fatality figures are bad PR and when you go and promote agriculture some people are saying they wouldn’t allow their children into the industry because it is too dangerous.

“Sometimes we have a macho attitude in our industry that does us no favours. People need to be more responsible and slow down.”

Mr Smith was speaking as the Farm Safety Partnership, of which the NFU is a key member, launched a safety leaflet about the dangers of gases from slurry.

See more: Farmers warned of slurry gas dangers

Hydrogen sulphide was a silent killer which could overcome someone in just a few breaths, he said.

On average one person died from slurry gas per year, which included people who had gone to help a family member or colleague and also been overcome by fumes, he added.

See all of the coverage from Grassland and Muck 2014