Making Light Work of Farm Cleaning

Published : 12/04/2017 15:51:47
Categories : Harrison Hire & Sales Posts

As any farmer will tell you, the agricultural business is constantly changing. Risk assessments, training courses and the endless paperwork of assurance programmes might be designed to improve food standards but these take time and impact on the farmer’s workload. If time (and money) can be saved in other areas, then most astute farm managers would take a second look. It’s well known that good hygiene also reduces the risk of spreading disease, and is part of good housekeeping, but cleaning is one area where using machinery can reduce the time taken on necessary tasks and can improve profitability too.

We recently supplied a 200 bar PTO pressure washer to B & B pig farm. They had previously been using a single-phase, cold-water machine and had taken a week to clean their accommodation. With the new unit, which provided 15 litres per minute to each of the two per guns when connected to a tractor, they were able to reduce this to 3 days, allowing for a faster turnaround and improving profitability. Tractor driven pressure washers are invaluable for washing down all kinds of animal housing such as chicken sheds, stables cow sheds and even dog kennels. They are also usual for cleaning tractors, combine harvesters or other machinery.

Sometimes there is a need to clean in places where there is no power or water supply; a mobile, independent pressure washers is required for these jobs. A petrol or diesel machine can be used with a bowser or other water container if required allowing cleaning to be carried out in remote locations. We recently added a new trailer-mounted pressure washer with bowser to our hire fleet which has proved very popular.  

 Tractor washing

Theft in rural areas has become more of an issue in recent years, with thieves realising that livestock and equipment are easy to target. Despite the rise in CCTV use, opportunist thefts still happen. We have had a number of farmers contact us for replacement pressure washers having left their machine unattended for an hour. One option to consider is a static machine. The pressure washer is mounted in a lockable cabinet making it weather proof, and virtually thief proof.

If you need to clean multiple large sheds or other buildings which are divided into rooms then a single, high-capacity pressure washer connected to fixed pipe-work is a possible solution. Operators can connect to multiple points.  The main benefits of a centralised wash down system is that your operators won’t need 100’s of metres of flexible hose, and that operators are less likely to misuse or abuse the equipment.

To improve cleaning results in less time and with less elbow grease, consider taking advice on the right detergents to suit your needs. There are some products which give outstanding results in the dirtiest environments. Look out for biodegradable, food safe and phosphate free variants. There are some which are manufactured specifically for agricultural use. With concerns over antibiotic resistance making the news it is worth thinking about rotating between neutral, acid and alkaline detergents as this helps prevent bacterial resistance. Don’t forget to read the dilution instructions as incorrect usage can waste money, and won’t improve cleaning performance.

Health and safety is another area which is growing in importance; managing dust safely is one area that many organisations have traditionally overlooked, particularly in grain sheds. A sweeping brush will throw a percentage of the dust into the air, which later settles back on the cleaned area and so isn’t very effective. Also, operatives are at risk of inhaling this dust, which can lead to breathing difficulties. As employers have a duty of care to ensure their employees work in a safe environment, consider hiring or buying a sweeper for these tasks. Sweepers range from manual walk-behind models for smaller areas, to ride-on vacuum sweepers for use in vast warehouses.

Very few farms can manage without a vacuum, particularly those who work with arable crops. There is a risk of grain dust becoming explosive if a cloud of dust is ignited by a standard vacuum motor.  This risk can be managed by using an explosion proof ATEX class vacuum. Take a look at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/eh66.pdf for more information on grain dust safety.

 

Finally, it is not uncommon for farmers to diversify and seek additional income by offering farm stays, or opening farm shops and cafes. In the age of social media, negative reviews can soon destroy a reputation and so spotless bathrooms, food preparation areas and public areas are essential. The use of steam generators is becoming commonplace as the benefits of this method are recognised – chemical free cleaning which destroys bacteria and viruses quickly is making them a valuable tool in maintaining high standards of hygiene.  

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