A tractor with a headcutter attached cuts hedges© Tim Scrivener

Machinery dealers in Essex are preparing to help improve farm safety by raising awareness of the need to correctly maintain pto shafts and guards.

Over the coming weeks, dealers representing four major agricultural machinery manufacturers will work towards the launch of an extended pilot safety scheme being co-ordinated by young farmers.

It follows the success of an initial scheme pioneered by the Devon Federation of Young Farmers in south-west England as a tribute to 20-year-old young farmer Lauren Scott.

See also: 7 ways to drive your farm vehicle safely and legally

Ms Scott died after suffering multiple injuries in a farm machinery accident earlier this year. The Growing Safer Farmers initiative was founded in her memory.

Since the accident, Devon young farmers have provided signs and counter cards so local machinery dealerships can highlight the need to inspect and correctly maintain ptos and guards.

When a farmer arrives at a dealership with a machine to be serviced, the dealer informs the customer of any work needed to bring pto shafts and guards up to standard.

Legal requirement

Some 269 pto guards have been replaced since the scheme launched – although 16 farmers have refused to have remedial work done, despite it being a legal requirement.

The National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs (NFYFC) said it now wanted to test the scheme in Essex with a view to rolling it out across the rest of the country.

Representatives from Essex Young Farmers met local dealers Ernest Doe, P Tuckwell, RW Crawford and RC Boreham near Chelmsford on Monday (6 November).

The tractor and machinery global brands represented by the four dealerships include Case New Holland, John Deere, Agco and Deutz Fahr.

‘Banging the drum’

“Farming in Essex is very different to farming in Devon – and we want to make sure the scheme works well here too,” said NFYFC chairman and Essex farmer Ed Ford.

“It is very much a work in progress but we are determined to keep banging the drum and we are very pleased that dealers are willing to get involved.”

Other participants at the meeting included representatives from rural insurers NFU Mutual, AHDB monitor farmer Hew Willett and Essex Young Farmers chairman James Carey.

If all goes to plan, the Essex scheme will be rolled out in the coming weeks.