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by Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance

Farm Safety – Preventing Hay Fires

Two sisters seating on hay in the middle of a field on a farm

As summer slowly creeps back, thoughts of the Indianapolis 500, summer vacation, sunshine and cookouts come to mind for many Hoosiers. For some, the song “Back Home Again in Indiana” and the line of, “The new mown hay sends all its fragrance” is playing on repeat in their heads as they see the new mown hay throughout their fields.  


Once the hay is mowed, baled and stored on farms in Indiana, those hay bales become at risk for hay fires. Hay fires strike farms every year, destroying hay, barns, equipment and livestock. Losing your livelihood to a hay fire can be devastating. To help avert the risk, here are some tips for preventing a hay fire.  


Did you know that one of the largest causes of a hay fire is spontaneous combustion? The heat produced in hay is a natural process of respiration known as “sweating” or curing hay. Spontaneous combustion occurs when the hay reaches an excessively high temperature. One of the easiest methods to prevent spontaneous combustion is to ensure that the hay is baled at the proper moisture level. 


Once hay has been baled, proper monitoring of hay and hay temperatures is critical to preventing spontaneous combustion and hay fires. Hay should be monitored for six weeks after baling. Other safe practices for storing hay include:   


  • Do not pack bales too tightly; this will limit the airflow entering and exiting the hay bales 

  • Use pallets, wood or gravel to raise the haystack off the ground to prevent wicking of ground moisture and increase airflow 

  • Absolutely no smoking around any areas where hay is stored 

  • Do not have open burning fires or flames around hay storage areas  


These tips are to help you prevent a hay fire. If a fire does occur, call 911 immediately.   


June is National Safety Month and the perfect time to spread awareness of hay fire safety. Share this article and these tips with your family and friends who may be harvesting and storing hay at their home or farm. This is a serious issue that can be prevented if you take careful measures and handle the hay with care.  


For more tips and safety practices contact your local Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance agent to receive the Preventing Hay Fires safety publication.