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STATEWIDE — In 2021, there were fewer deaths on farms in Indiana which is continuing a downward trend, according to experts at Purdue University.

Ed Shelton is an agricultural safety and health specialist at Purdue who has been crunching the numbers. He said in 2021 20 people died in documented farming-related accidents, which is down from 25 in 2020.

Shelton tells WISH-TV that a declining farming population is a big reason in why fewer people have been dying in farming accidents.

“Two percent of our population actually lives on a productive farm or is involved in agriculture production now,” Shelton said. “We’re dealing with a lot fewer people on a proportional basis that are exposed to the hazards of a typical farm. It makes sense that we should see a decline in the total number (of deaths) each year.”

Shelton said the farming industry is starting to see an increase in “part-time farming” where people take up agriculture as a second job or a retirement job.

He said another big factors in farming-related deaths though are tractor accidents.

“The biggest single factor in farm fatalities are tractors,” said Shelton. “Over time about half of our farm fatalities have involved tractors in some way. Most of the time a rollover incident where people drive a tractor on a slope and are crushed underneath it.”

He said fewer of those incidents happened in 2021 and contributing to that decline has been the rise of “closed-cab tractors.”