Season for Safety

Meet the Challenge to Prevent Silage Accidents

Victoria G Myers
By  Victoria G. Myers , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Keith and Ruthie Bolsen's mission is to promote safe silage practices, such as taking samples from a loader bucket a safe distance from the feedout face of the silage pile. (Image courtesy Keith Bolsen Silage Safety Foundation)

A new foundation created by two of the foremost names in silage safety, Keith and Ruthie Bolsen, will go into 2018 with a big mission: learn from every accident and help prevent future mishaps when working around silage.

The nonprofit, Keith Bolsen Silage Safety Foundation, promotes safe silage management practices, provision of educational resources and materials and consulting. In addition, they provide scholarships to family members of silage accident victims. There is never a consulting fee, noted Keith Bolsen, but the foundation accepts donations, which are tax deductible.

The Bolsens aren't new to the subject of silage safety, having authored papers and books on the subject through the years. Most recently they worked with Lallemand Animal Nutrition on the company's free "Silage Safety Handbook" and education video.

Education has been Keith Bolsen's life's work in one way or another. He said their efforts today in the area of silage safety are largely based on case studies collected through the years, from around the world.

Bolsen believes it's important to show how widespread silage accidents are, and that there is no common element when it comes to geography or age. He said overfilling bunker silos or building silage piles too high is a major issue.

"We have a documented fatality of a 9-year-old in Brazil who was buried by an avalanche from a 9 foot pile of silage. If you can have a fatality with a 9- or 12-foot high silage face, what about those that are 20- or 30-feet high? We are knowingly building bunkers and piles with faces way too tall and dangerous," Bolsen stressed.

As the Bolsens work to get their foundation up and running, they are looking for sponsors to help them reach producers in the U.S. and around the world. Those currently working with the Bolsens include: Nutri-Tech, Connor Agriscience, Doug DeGroff, Mike Rankin, Kettle Edge Consulting, Earnest and Marlene Boyd, Table Rock Farm, Porter Cattle Company, Mike Simon and most recently Dupont Pioneer.

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Victoria Myers