Manual Handling Solutions for Farms (HSE AS23)

Handling bagged products

The problem

Even though most feed and fertiliser is now handled in bulk or big bags that can be moved mechanically, there are still some 40 kg and 50 kg bags used, eg with seed corn.

Where it is not feasible to change to bulk or big bag systems, eg with some specialist, small-volume fertilisers or on smaller farms with limited mechanisation, considerable amounts of lifting can be required.

Handling materials in 50 kg bags into a high hopper, such as on a seed drill or up steps into a loft, involves increased risks. Where there is a poor working surface, eg slippery concrete or freshly cultivated soil, the problems are worse.


Figure 3: Self-propelled trolley being used to transport container plants at a nursery.
  • Use big bags or bulk systems with loaders, pipelines or augers to move the material wherever possible.
  • Tote bins can help to mechanise and reduce manual effort.
  • Aim to use the optimum spreader or drill hopper size for the scale of your enterprise to increase the opportunities for bulk systems.
  • Palletise 50 kg bags wherever and for as long as possible. Aim to keep the pallets intact from lorry to store to trailer to spreader or drill.
  • Use the height of delivery trailers to your advantage so that bags are presented at the best height for carrying.
  • Position trailers and spreaders or drills so that bags can be moved to the hopper in one movement, avoiding difficult access over coulters etc.
  • If you do have to move bags or bulk material by hand, especially over uneven or muck-laden ground, consider trolleys and feed barrows which have larger wheels and pneumatic tyres, or which are motorised (see Figure 3).

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