The man who died in a workplace accident yesterday afternoon was a farm worker in his 50s.

Fred Thorby is believed to have been caught in a potato harvesting machine.

St John spokesman Mark Tregoweth confirmed one person died at a property on Barber Rd, Shannon, 35 km southwest of Palmerston North.

Fire service spokesman Mike Wanoa said three fire appliances attended, including a rescue tender used when people are trapped.

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"Generally they're used for motor accidents. [In this case] it was machinery," Wanoa said.

Police confirmed Worksafe New Zealand had been notified and was investigating the incident.

Farm owner Gayle Easton did not want to comment.