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Farm safety: how to protect outdoor workers from heat stress



Heat-related ailments are common among agricultural workers. Here’s how they can stay safe outdoors this summer.

1. Drink plenty of water. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses too much salt and water due to excess sweating. For this reason, it’s important for outdoor workers to remain hydrated.

2. Take breaks in the shade. Heatstroke, which is a serious condition, occurs after prolonged exposure to extreme heat. Therefore, outdoor workers need cool, shady places where they can rest and should take five- to 15-minute breaks every hour. This is especially important during periods of intense heat and for those who wear protective gear.

3. Don’t rush through tasks. Outdoor agricultural workers should build up their heat tolerance gradually. Initially, they’ll need to move slowly and take frequent breaks, but this is more efficient than dealing with a heat-related illness.

4. Know the signs. All outdoor farmworkers should know the signs and symptoms of heat-related ailments and feel comfortable reporting them. Supervisors should also be able to spot them.

Heat-related ailments can be dangerous and lead to serious complications, especially when treatment is delayed. Make sure you have a plan to handle heat-related health emergencies and that workers and supervisors know about it.

Know the signs
These symptoms of heat stress should never be ignored:

• Dizziness

• Fainting

• Nausea

• Vomiting

• Headache

• Muscle cramps

• Confusion

• Shallow breathing

• Rapid pulse or heartbeat

• Red, hot skin

• Lack of sweating

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The key to fraud — printed right on your checks



In a business checking account, a small charge of $10 to $20 might not generate too much concern or suspicion.

But, beware, small amounts coming out of your checking account can be a fraud, and all the criminal needs to know are printed right on your check.

Automated Clearing House (ACH) fraud is a common way to steal. The criminal only needs your account number and the bank routing number. It is like check fraud only much easier since the funds come right out of your bank account without the need for paper.

Be aware that any time you type in your checking account and routing number online you are offering a bad actor all he or she needs to steal from you, either in small amounts over time, or by gutting your account entirely.

Criminals get your checking account information through phony websites, phishing schemes, spoofed emails from entities such as the IRS, and even work at home schemes.

Or, if you send them a check. That’s all it takes.

Such fraudulent ACH transactions can be labeled many things, including “Bank Card draft” or “Bank payment” and seem legitimate at a glance.

Consumers have 60 days to alert their banks and recover funds, but businesses may only have one day to do the same. The key is daily monitoring of the account, reviewing all the credits and debits to detect fraud immediately.

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Management Message idea: You can use in whole or as an idea starter – It’s time to change the tone



In July, we celebrate this country’s independence and the birth of what was to become the United States.

In July 2020, sadly, we don’t feel so united.

We have had extreme, collective disappointments, tragedy, and stresses in the last few years. We have also had successes, change for the better, and some hopeful signs for the future.

Everywhere we turn, people are angry, and all too anxious to point fingers. Anger is everywhere from supermarkets to living rooms to the street. For every success one person points to, another claims it was corrupt. For every corruption, others claim it was a success.

The sad thing is that some points of everyone’s opinion are valid. But anger makes it very difficult to focus on solutions and agreement.

In this era, perhaps we can never agree, but we can tone down the rhetoric. That’s important because no matter how angry we are, there are things worth saving in our nation.

Inflammatory, sweeping accusations against one person, groups of people, or every person don’t help the general tone. It doesn’t help to accuse everyone, but yourself, of evil intentions. Just like you, most people don’t think their intentions are evil at all. We might remember that.

Let’s avoid name-calling to insult those with whom we disagree.

Turn off, log off, conversations that have become vicious. Don’t be part of the problem.

Take a moment to hear others.

Let others speak.

When you speak, try to speak with charity.

This month, take time to remember that, right or wrong, idealists founded this country in hope of building something better than existed previously. You can argue they didn’t succeed, as many have, but at least they tried to build, not destroy.

Let’s be joyful builders. Let us thrive together aware of our disagreements, but in unity to seek solutions.

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Innovative plant disease detection



A tool that may enable farmers to instantaneously detect plant diseases in the field is being developed by a team of researchers from North Carolina State University. Here’s how it works.

Disease signatures
When plants “breathe,” they release volatile organic compounds, better known as VOCs. However, when a plant is sick, the composition of those VOCs changes. Each disease causes different changes in the VOCs emitted during plant respiration. This means that it’s possible to associate VOC changes to specific diseases, an idea that led researchers to develop a device that can analyze plant VOCs and identify disease.

Portable disease detector

Currently, plant disease detection relies on molecular tests that take hours to perform. These tests have to be run in a laboratory setting, adding transport time to an already slow process. In contrast, the VOC device developed by researchers plugs into a smartphone and can analyze the VOCs released by a plant suspected of being sick on the spot. The whole process takes a mere 15 minutes.

For now, the detector can differentiate between 10 plants VOCs and effectively diagnose four diseases. This is a promising development that could provide farmers with an affordable and fast way to detect plant diseases before they harm crop yields.

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Industrial waste gets second life as fertilizer



Spent microbial mass (SMB), a plentiful and nutrient-rich waste material composed of bacteria, fungi, and plant cells, is being reviewed as a fertilizer. Recently, researchers examined how its application affected cornfields by comparing one treated with SMB to one that received normal fertilizer.

A plentiful alternative to fertilizers
The main question when evaluating a potential fertilizer is how effective it is. In the case of SMB, researchers found that fields treated with it and those treated with normal fertilizer had similar crop yields. One difference that stood out, however, was that SMB needed to be applied more often. Nevertheless, this isn’t a major concern. Industrial biotechnology produces a lot of SMB, so supply is unlikely to be a problem.

Lower environmental impact

One advantage of SMB over traditional fertilizers is that soil treated with the waste material shows much higher concentrations of carbon and organic matter. This isn’t the case for soil that’s been treated with regular fertilizer year after year. In fact, the overuse of fertilizers has been shown to deplete soil resources, making it increasingly difficult to meet production goals.

While more research is required, it seems that SMB could have a positive impact on food production and the planet.

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Wounding plants could make produce healthier



Proponents of organic farming contend that organic fruits and vegetables, which are exposed to more stress than produce farmed with the help of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, are healthier. Specifically, there’s been substantial debate around the idea that exposure to insect bites induces a stress response that causes plants to produce more antioxidants and makes them healthier and more nutritious. A recent study suggests this may be true.

An international team of scientists observed strawberry plants that were exposed to different types and levels of wounding to the leaves a few days before harvest. They found that plants that had been wounded in ways that mimicked insect bites produced more antioxidants than those that hadn’t been wounded.

This discovery could spur the development of new techniques for the produce industry, which is constantly trying to grow more nutritious food. Manipulating plant metabolism without the use of environmentally harmful pesticides and fertilizers is a step in the right direction.

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3 advantages of crop diversification



Crop diversification is the agricultural practice of cultivating a variety of crop types. This offers many benefits and could provide solutions to some of the key problems modern farmers face. Here are three advantages offered by crop diversification.

1. It helps farmers make ends meet
As crop prices become less stable and growing conditions become more difficult, many farmers struggle to ensure their financial security. However, farmers can reduce economic uncertainty by cultivating more than one type of crop. Furthermore, diversification lets farmers take advantage of niche markets in their region (such as by cultivating heirloom varieties to sell at local farmers’ markets).

2. It makes crops more resistant

The traditional way to grow crops is to plant a single cultivar in a given area. However, this results in entire fields that are susceptible to the same hazard, be it a pest or disease. Diversifying crops means that no one pest or disease can destroy a farm’s entire harvest.

3. It lessens the environmental impact
Crop diversification makes farms more environmentally friendly. This is because planting a variety of crops makes the soil healthier, which in turn reduces the need to use excessive amounts of fertilizer. In addition, diversification ensures that crops are more resistant to disease and therefore require fewer pesticides.

Lastly, farmers who plant different kinds of crops are able to tap into their regional markets and contribute to strengthening their local economies. This helps farms thrive and provides them with greater financial security.

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