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How to act during the grain harvest in the context of the Coronavirus

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In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and in the framework of the international agreements signed by INTA the following recommendations have been developed by the technicians of INTA together with experts from universities and the private sector to avoid the transmission of the Coronavirus in the harvesting and storage of grain for this season.

The harvest campaign in the Argentine Pampas region against the background of the new Coronavirus COVID-19 will have some peculiarities that deserve to be adequately resolved. The recommendations of the national health authorities, added to the limitations of circulation, transport and delivery of the grains, are some of the characteristics that will condition the harvest, storage and logistics work of the harvesting season for coarse grain.

Taking into account that 80% of the production of the 2019-2020 campaign will be harvested in the next 45 days and that the logistics of harvesting, transport and storage of grains will be highly conditioned by situations of public knowledge, the key will be anticipation and foresight.

According to the specialists who work in INTA's Precision Agriculture and Agricultural Mechanization Project, this year "it will be key to agree on logistics in advance and ensure that the teams and equipment are in the field at the necessary time." "In the event of movement restrictions and machinery movement, having the harvesting, post-harvesting and grain logistics services in the field at the necessary time will be decisive for doing a good job," stressed the technicians.

In a complex situation such as this season, the harvest should be carried out as efficiently as possible and, in order not to risk forming a bottleneck to gather and store the production, we should evaluate the recommendation to start the harvest with 2% more humidity above the normal reception parameter (in soybeans, harvest up to 15.5 to 16% humidity). "In a day of normal weather conditions, that percentage is reduced during the work day," according to the specialists. 

The harvesting campaign in the context of the Coronavirus

In addition to the basic precautions recommended by the Ministry of Health of the Nation and the WHO for the prevention of the new Coronavirus COVID-19, which are: washing hands with soap and water regularly, avoiding direct contact and staying at a greater distance than 2m, coughing or sneezing into the elbow crease, ventilation of rooms, not sharing of dishes or utensils for personal use, and not touching your eyes, nose and mouth, among others; A team of INTA technicians, together with other specialists from the private sector, developed a series of recommendations to take into account in the harvesting, storage and logistics tasks of grains for this season.

Recommendations guide:

  • Keep the work team well informed. It is important to educate all operators and field personnel about the risks of contagion to take precautions and avoid transmission of the Coronavirus. Distribute only official information to avoid rumours and false information that may cause panic. The most important thing is the people, their health and their families, therefore, it is essential to attend and invest in their care.

  • Restrict access to people at risk (people over 60, people with basic and respiratory diseases and those with conditions such as diabetes).

  • Before starting the harvest and post-harvest activities, agree on the work methodology with the internal and external team (farmer, agronomist, contractor, operators, truckers, gatherers, etc.); and if possible, maintain communication by cell phone to avoid direct contact.

  • Avoid direct contact in all its forms and, if necessary, take preventive measures before and after contact. Avoid sharing mate, it is advisable to use your own elements, as well as personal crockery (cutlery and glass) and personal hygiene items (towels and others).

  • Reduce mobilization of people to a minimum and request providers that the services are provided by the same people (truckers, drivers, assistants).

  • Try to carry out the least possible mobilization of grain at this time. It is suggested to plan the storage in own structures available on the farms or to program the storage in silo bags (obtaining bags and equipment for grain bagging).

  • Avoid crowds of people, both in work activities and in camps, caravans, meetings, etc.

  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect items that are necessarily shared with direct contact (waybill, keys, tools, pen, performance monitor memory, etc.).

  • Provide clean water, soap and blotting paper rolls in the field machinery, such as in hoppers, harvesters, tractors and especially in communal areas, so that staff can regularly wash their hands properly (see recommendations of the Ministry of Health of the Nation).

  • Communal areas: as it is a critical place for contagion through confined spaces, it is recommended to take turns for meals and to require masks (type N95), also during breaks. It is extremely important to maintain hygiene with disinfectants and bleach in these living spaces.

  • Combine harvesters, tractors and trucks must be occupied only by the trained operator, avoiding companions and non-essential persons.

  • Before a change in the operators of the machinery, properly clean and disinfect the command cabin and post.

  • In the case of shared use of technical assistance vehicles, such as vans, disinfect regularly. The recommended option to avoid contagions is to avoid sharing.

  • Regularly clean, disinfect, and ventilate machinery spaces, communal areas, warehouses, homes, and technical assistance vehicles.

  • Reinforce the use of safety and personal hygiene elements such as gloves and masks (type N95) for machinery operators and storage plant workers. In addition to preventing the spread of the Coronavirus, contact with dust, fungi, mycotoxins, insecticides, insects and rodents is also avoided.

  • Appoint a team operator as responsible for the control and compliance with prevention measures and the provision of hygiene products for personnel and machinery cleaning.

Important! In the presence of fever and respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat, or respiratory distress), do not self-medicate or underestimate any clinical manifestations; Consult by phone immediately at 0800-222-1002 (from anywhere in the country). 


Mauro Bianco Gaido 
(INTA Manfredi Communication - Córdoba Regional Center).

* Compilation of technical contributions from specialists from INTA, universities and the private sector, participants in the Project (PE i 177) "Development and application of mechanization, precision and digitization technologies for agriculture": Fernando Scaramuzza, Juan Pablo Vélez, Diego Villarroel and Mauricio Santa Juliana (INTA Manfredi), José Peiretti and Mario De Simone (INTA Salta), Juan Giordano (INTA Rafaela), Santiago Tourn (Integrated Unit Balcarce - FCA-UNMdP-INTA), Enrique Behr (INTA Crespo), José Méndez ( INTA Totoras) and Federico Sánchez (Córdoba).

Translated by: 
Laurik International 

For more information: 
Mauro Bianco Gaido

Geographic location: Argentina


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