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Farmers’ innovative silo system wins school a coaching session with Richard Loe

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A Southland school has won a coaching session with rugby legend Richard Loe thanks to a farming couple designing an innovative system to prevent falls into their silo.

Donna Holland and her husband Denis developed a rope pulley system which opens and closes the silo lid at their dairy farm in Kaiwera, Southland.

Their winning entry in a competition encouraging farmers to send WorkSafe examples of farming safely saw them nominate Pukerau School near Gore to receive a coaching session from Richard Loe, the Safer Farms ambassador.

Al McCone, sector lead agriculture at WorkSafe, said: “This entry is a good solution to an ongoing problem across many farms. It shows how farmers can take simple steps to reduce the chances of an accident happening.

“Entering into silos, either from the ground or the top presents a significant risk to farmers, their families and workers.

“It is easy to be engulfed by bulk materials such as grain, sand, flour, fertiliser and sawdust. Bulk materials are not solid and there are often unstable areas or voids that may collapse under the weight of a person. This can cause a person to become trapped or buried in the silo.

It’s important farmers manage the risks around silos.”

Donna Holland said she and her husband designed the rope pulley system to reduce the likelihood of an accident occurring.

“We get a lot of feed delivered into the silo and this system means nobody has to go up to the top. The ropes on the ground make it easy to pull the lid open and close. A computer also tells us when the silo is running out of feed.”

Lisa Parish, Principal of Pukerau School said the school was very excited to have been nominated by the Holland family for the prize.

“Our students and community are very much looking forward to Richard Loe’s visit next year to prep everyone for the rugby season ahead. We have a lot of keen rugby players both young and old in our community, so to have someone with Mr Loe’s skills and expertise to help out our students will be a real asset to us all.”

The entries were judged by representatives from WorkSafe, Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers.

For more information about silo safety, please visit:

  • Source: A Worksafe release