Job safety data puts farming up there with the most dangerous professions, and most accidents are because of the hands-on work farmers must do to keep an operation going.
However, not all tragedy is impossible to prevent. Shawn Gengerke, CEO and founder of Leading Edge Industries out of Groton, South Dakota, has been working on a solution to one of the most common culprits of farm death and injuries – a plugged grain bin.
“We’ve been up close to these tragedies. We’ve seen how it affects these families,” Gengerke said.
Across the U.S., about 30 grain bin entrapments are reported each year, and about half are deaths, said John Keimig, youth safety specialist for South Dakota State University Extension. He gave a presentation on grain bin safety during a Dakotafest farm show webinar last month. Earlier this year, one South Dakota farmer was killed in a grain bin entrapment and another was rescued.
Conditions have been especially dangerous in recent years. Grain harvested wet can clump easily, and though entering a bin to break it up is risky, it happens far too often.
Leading Edge’s solution was to introduce the Bin SumpPRO. The device works with two patent-pending countermeasures to reduce clumps and buildup above and below the floor of a grain bin. A series of metal beaters break up clumps and ice above the grain bin floor, and another component cuts and clears material lodged between the top of the floor and the discharge auger where grain exits the bin. The retro-fit kit works with most bins with a floor sweep system.
As a fifth generation farmer himself, Gengerke said he has tried many products for their grain bins and none have really addressed the issue.
“It just wouldn’t take care of all the problems,” he said. “There never was a good solution.”
In testing the bin sump over several years, he said it leads to a 99% reduction in clumps. When developing the product, they focused on making sure the device works in the largest grain bins below 125,000 bushels of corn, and making sure it broke up clumps in the bin sump that were caused by adverse conditions.
The last two years of consistently adverse weather conditions in South Dakota have helped designers create an even safer and more secure product, Gengerke said. The Bin SumpPRO has been tested with some of the wettest and worst-condition corn imaginable, he said. As the beater breaks up the clumps above the floor, the system has a way to break up clumps below the floor should any make it through.
“That’s what gets us to 99% effectiveness,” he said.
After testing it with poor corn, blocks of ice and extreme temperatures, Gengerke said he is confident that their product can fit the bill for all producers. The added bonus, he said, is that the system can be retrofitted to most sweep systems in the bin and is powered by the existing sweep motor.
As National Farm Safety and Health Week approaches Sept. 20-26, Gengerke said it’s just about making sure everyone can live to pass on their legacy.
“I want to be around for my grandchildren,” he said. “Seeing these tragedies up close, it’s really just a heart-wrenching thing to see.”
To learn more about the Bin SumpPRO, visit binsumppro.com or call Leading Edge at 605-397-2020.