Hay fire causes differ

November 22, 2017

The cause of hay fires this season will depend on the region, according to two CFA representatives.

The cause of hay fires this season will depend on the region, according to two CFA representatives.

Cosgrove and Pine Lodge CFA captain Ross Harmer said this season was no different to any other, with weather conditions not playing much of a part.

‘‘The threat this season is like any other season. Each season is very similar — it depends on how much moisture is in the bales,’’ he said.

‘‘The worst thing is to wrap it up too green. Now it is sitting in water (in the paddock) and would be another issue in itself.’’

However, District 20 operations manager Peter Taylor, who covers the Northern Country and the Mallee regions, said they were already experiencing issues with cereal hay.

‘‘Particularly over the Mallee, Northern Country we have had issues with cereal hay bales,’’ Mr Taylor said.

‘‘When we get that occurrence it normally is because of a lot of sugar in the crops that could lead to spontaneous combustion.

‘‘Once a hay stack becomes alight we can’t stop it and we just have to let it burn.

‘‘Farmers and contractors have improved their methods over the last five years so there have been smaller amounts in recent times but new farming methods are providing problems for us.’’

Mr Harmer said it was up to farmers to use some ‘‘self-awareness’’ to avoid the worst.

‘‘Most balers have moisture meters in them now and moisture probes are available that can measure moisture levels,’’ he said.

‘‘Be aware of the moisture factor as sometimes it takes longer to cure some windrows.

‘‘It has to be allowed to cure properly. If it’s not cured that’s where you get your problems.’’

Mr Taylor had some advice for farmers to help them avoid or limit the damage when hay fires occurred.

‘‘Check stacks after rain and continually monitor them. Also don’t put hay in one spot is a useful strategy, as fires will spread enormously quickly,’’ he said.

‘‘We are encouraging them (farmers) to be vigilant around the stuff when it’s been exposed to the elements and know the history of hay if they are buying fodder in.’’

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