Agricultural Safety & Health Research Project Summary

Research Projects in Agricultural Safety & Health

Current projects involving original research in agricultural health, safety, and mental health are described here. Over time, additional for each of these projects will be included such as recent research articles, opportunities for graduate or undergraduate study, and collaboration possibilities.  If you are looking for research that had been listed under the UW Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, THIS is the place (though the Center was moved to Extension in July 2022).  See also faculty website for John Shutske for additional information and links to current peer-reviewed research articles.

Research Projects

Development and Validation of Ag-Automation Hazard and Risk Reduction Model (AAHRRRM)

Due to the labor shortage, there is rapidly growing interest in many forms of farm automation. This includes automation within livestock and dairy facilities (feeders, cleaners, control systems); farmsteads; and field operations.  The field operation category includes up to and including fully autonomous machines like tractors, harvesters, and smaller scale equipment.  The limiting constraint on advancement is RISK.  This includes:

  • Injury
  • Public safety
  • Downtime risk (from accidents, breakdowns, and other failures)
  • Insurability
  • Policy and regulatory oversight
  • Environmental
  • Cyber

While farmers are very interested in the future aspects of this work, currently the primary stakeholder groups for this work include: the equipment industry, USDA-NIFA, policy-makers and regulators, the insurance industry, local community and educational leaders.

The Development and Validation of Ag-Automation Hazard and Risk Reduction Model (AAHRRRM) project is funded by USDA – This project involves examining current practices and future needs in risk assessment for highly automated agricultural machines.

Risk Assessment Methods for Automated Agricultural Machines: Current Practice and Future Needs – A paper just completed at a conference in Houston on these issues of risk and tools being used in the industry.  This work is in phase two with a grad student who starts in fall 2022.

I am also co-leading a 2022 national (multi-national) symposium and group of experts through support from USDA-NIFA to establish a research and Extension “agenda” nationally that will help advance these efforts.  We are examining ALL aspects of risk and developing a prioritized set of research and Extension needs to support the advancement of highly automated agricultural machines.

Dairy Workers and Antibiotic Resistance Risk – Protecting Personal and Public Health

As a researcher, I lead the Wisconsin work of a multi-institutional, multidisciplinary project (dairy science, biological systems engineering, epidemiology, bacteriology, veterinary medicine, infection control and medicine) focused on the health and safety of workers in the dairy industry. Our team focuses on the roles and risk factors among dairy farm workers with a focus on infection control and antibiotic resistance. We employ an engineering-based systems approach that includes methods and frameworks being deployed in healthcare-based infection control.  In late 2022, we will be delivering and testing a multi-part intervention to dairy farm workers and managers covering basis personal protective equipment use, antibiotic use and stewardship (for both people and animals), and management factors and support needed to protect worker health.  Example articles from this research are shown below.