Many fires have broken out in fields and farms across the south west during the past month.

This dramatic photo shows firefighters tackling a tractor on fire in Boyton near Launceston in July.

Fortunately the farmer managed to get the tractor to a safe place and, in doing so, saved his hay field.

A spokesperson for Launceston Community Fire Station said after the event: "Credit to the farmer who managed to get the tractor to a safe spot and avoided a field full of hay catching alight!"

Barns, many filled with hay bales, other farm buildings, fields, tractors, combine harvesters, balers and grain dryers have all fallen victim throughout the region.

Commonly, farmers attempt to put the flames out themselves, but the fire services are asking that they call the emergency services sooner, to stop the fires taking hold.

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Graham Kewley is station manager of the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service.

He said: “An early 999 call is vital as many farmers seem to try to put it out themselves for too long before calling for help.

"Farmers are not charged for our attendance.

The effects of fire go beyond the initial damage.

Graham said: “Fires pose a threat to the livelihoods of many in the rural sector be that through loss of crops, machinery, buildings or livestock.

"Coupled with that the significant resources, effort and water supplies required to deal with field fires, any work to prevent fires is beneficial to the whole community.

"Following simple guidelines can help to reduce the impact of fires on those living and working in rural areas.”

There are several measures that may prevent a fire from becoming a significant event.

When it comes to machinery, Graham advises that dust and chaff is regularly removed from combines and balers and that, if bearings are engines are running hot, farmers stop and investigate.

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Every vehicle should have a maintained fire extinguisher during harvest, and all staff should know how to isolate equipment and what to do in the event of fire.

Graham recommends that, in breezy conditions, farmers consider harvesting from a downwind position and in an upwind direction.

This ensures that if a fire does occur, it’s not driven by the wind through standing crops.

During harvest, Graham also recommends combining in blocks to break up larger fields and reduce spread, as well as combining in a downhill direction on sloping fields.

If the worst happens, call 999 and report the exact location.

Having a tractor and associated equipment ready to cut a fire break if necessary make a difference, since it will slow the progress and spread of the fire.

In fact, when it comes to fire breaks, it's worth considering cultivating them around fields after harvest.

Finally, it's advisable to keep a full water bowser or tank nearby.