Plant development this year is about 10 days earlier than normal. If this warmer weather continues, farmers will begin to plant some fields in about a week, depending on rain.
Farmers want to get an early start since research has shown that earlier-planted crops tend to have larger yields if soils are suitable for good germination and emergence. Thus, there may be a lot of farm equipment on the roads in the next few weeks.
Farmers know that their equipment may create road issues during the planting season and pose potential safety risks. Because of this concern, the agricultural community has established the following rules and recommendations for farmers to encourage safety on the roads:
• Select roads that are less used by general traffic and try to move equipment during low-traffic times.
• At all times, a “slow-moving vehicle” emblem is required.
• Headlights and taillights are required until 30 minutes after sunrise and 30 minutes before sunset, and required during day hours in inclement weather, such as fog and rain.
• Additional extremity lighting is required on dual-wheeled tractors.
• Amber flashers and turn signals are recommended at all times.
• Ideally, towed implements should have reflectors, lights, and a slow-moving vehicle emblem. Law requires these items when the implement blocks the lighting/marking configuration on the tractor.
• Safety cables or chains should be used in any towing situation.
• Lock tractor brakes together.
• Wear seat belts while operating tractors with rollover protective structures (ROPS).
• Ohio law states that only one wagon/implement may be towed behind any vehicle with two exceptions:
1. Towing with a tractor: more than one wagon/implement may be towed. While no maximum is indicated, common sense and safety should play a role.
2. Towing with a pickup or straight truck: a truck designed by the manufacturer to carry a load of one-half ton and not more than two tons may tow two wagons or implements.
• Use an escort vehicle when possible.
The general public needs to remember that farm equipment has a legal right to use public roads, and be aware that equipment used today is much larger than 10 years ago. Tractors are also larger and faster.
Some equipment will be moved to fields by trucks pulling trailers loaded with planters and tillage equipment. Be careful when passing such equipment since large tillage equipment and planters are often folded and may move in an unexpected manner while traveling on rural roads.
Motorists need to be alert for slower-moving farm equipment on the roads and avoid activities that may distract them. Farm machinery operators may not be able to see motorists because large equipment may partially block their rear view. If a motorist can’t see the machinery driver, the driver can’t see them.
Motorists need to be aware that farm equipment that is half on the road and half on the shoulder may suddenly move completely onto the road. Extra-wide equipment may take up more than one lane to avoid hitting mailboxes and road signs.
As we approach the planting season, be aware of farm equipment, particularly as we are often running late to our kids’ sporting events and other activities. And farmers, please remember that you share the road with the general public. Let’s drive safely out there.
More information on road safety may be found at http://www.netwellness.org/healthtopics/poison/farmer.cfm.
Lentz is extension educator for agriculture and natural resources for The Ohio State University Extension Service in Hancock County. He can be reached at 419-422-3851 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lentz can be heard with Vaun Wickerham on weekdays at 6:35 a.m. on WFIN, at 5:43 a.m. on WKXA-FM, and at 5:28 a.m. at 106.3 The Fox.
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