Women make up a growing share of principal farm operators, especially on farms engaged in sustainable agriculture. The 2017 census showed that nearly 30% of farms in the US are farmed by women as principal farm operators. In Missouri, there are 59,000 women being part of a farm. However, almost all farm tools and equipment are designed based on the average size of men farmers. There are no on-going research efforts investigating the safety and health risks due to a mismatch between the physical capacity of women farmers and the physical demands of their jobs with regard to farm tools and equipment. Meanwhile, current safety education for the agricultural population is often aimed at men, but women may be less prepared to prevent injuries, illness, and chronic conditions related to agriculture work. The goal of this project aims to improve the safety and health for women farmers by identifying essential issues of farm tools and equipment used by women farmers, and providing solutions through presenting education programs, providing simple solutions, and developing next-generation tools using ergonomic, engineering, automation and smart technology standards. Surveys and field evaluation will be conducted on selected tools and equipment using by women farmers on animal and crop production to identify the essential issues (injury, illness, chronic conditions, disability or death), which will be analyzed and classified into different categories (e.g., design flaw, inappropriate design and operation, outdated products). Education programs will be presented to increase the awareness of the potential hazards and knowledge of properly selecting and using tools. We will develop simple ergonomic solutions to improve the safety and health for women farmers, and also develop next-generation tools and equipment as potential long-term solutions. We will work closely with women farmers, who will serve as cooperators, advisory team members and collaborators, to collect first-hand information, and guide the implementation of the proposed research. Project outcomes and findings will be shared with women farmers in the NCR and US to improve their safety, health and efficiency in use of farm tools and equipment. The long-term impact of the project will reduce farm injuries, improve women farmers health and safety, and improve the overall sustainability of agriculture in the NCR. This project will contribute to the NCR-SARE broad-based outcomes: improved farm equipment will increase the profitability and associated agricultural businesses, enhance the life quality of farmers and environment in the long run.
Project objectives from proposal:
The project aims to address the safety and health issues of farm tools and equipment for women farmers, including three supportive objectives: (1) Understand essential issues of the farm tools, worksites and equipment for women farmers through survey and technical evaluations; (2) Generate awareness, knowledge and resources for women farmers to use farm tools and equipment properly though education programs; and (3) Provide simple solutions and develop next-generation tools for women farmers using ergonomic, engineering, automation and smart technology standards. The project outcome will improve the sustainability of agriculture with improved efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainable farming practices.