Growers are being advised to be particularly cautious when handling over-yeared seed bags, following reports of bags ripping during movement. Charlotte Cunningham reports.

A number of growers have taken to Twitter recently to warn others about issues with over-yeared seed bags, inlcuding Robin Aird, farm manager at Charlton Park Estate, Malmesbury, Wilts, who tweeted: “###Warning### overwintered seed bags are exceptionally brittle this year. We have had two break moving and will now re-bag the lot. No warning and the hoop comes away from the bag.”

Catherine Barrett, sector head of arable marketing and seed at AIC, has offered safety information to support farm workers. Care should always be taken when handling over-yeared bagged seed,” says Catherine. “Taking a few small steps and exercising extra caution can help preserve the bags’ structural integrity and avoid any spills that waste time and cause potential safety issues.”

“Drilling is a busy time for arable farms, but farms are being encouraged to take time to check bags before handling and follow the below guidelines on best handling and storage.”

In light of this, AIC has released the following advice:


  • Visually check all bags before attempting to move them.
  • Most seed bags are ‘single use’ and therefore shouldn’t be refilled due to strain and stretch on the bag. New bags should be supplied when farm-saved seed is being processed.

Handling of bags

  • Avoid walking underneath or near bags suspended from pallet forks at all times.
  • Whatever method of discharging the seed, take extreme care if you need to place yourself under a hanging bag. A long-handled bag opener could be used to avoid standing at the spout at the base.
  • If bags are regularly moved, they and the carrying loops can deteriorate and become damaged on forklift tines. Make sure that the loops are safe with no sign of fraying. Sharp edges on the fork tines can damage the lifting loops of the bags. If edges are sharp, protective tubing or piping can be used for protection.
  • Movements should be smooth to avoid the bag swinging. Ensure the tine is lifting the entire loop, as some bags have two.
  • When moving seed bags around the yard, make sure they are kept as low as practically possible to avoid harm from falling.
  • When lifting the bags up to the drill hopper make sure the loader is stationary while lifting into place.

Optimum Storage

  • Bags shouldn’t be stored in direct sunlight as they perish more quickly.
  • Before lifting bags above the drill hopper, check again to make sure bags have not shown signs of stress in transit.
  • If the seed is to be stored for another year, consider the floor the bag is kept on. Ideally, place the bag on pallets. Keep it away from damp walls and out of direct sunlight. Keep vermin under control, as urine will cause deterioration. Do not handle it unnecessarily, as every movement reduces the strength of the bag.

“Be diligent and use the steps above to help prevent issues with over-yeared bags,” adds Catherine. “Handle bags carefully and store away from any environmental factors that could cause issues. Even when the bag appears to be structurally sound, issues, like worn material beneath the lifting loop, can go unnoticed, so always perform adequate checks.”