Error on the Side of Caution during Planting Season

As one of the industry’s most renowned forage specialists, Corey Catt helps farmers strike that delicate balance between nature, science and technology. Corey is passionate about helping farmers produce healthy meat, milk and eggs. He also is passionate about how food sources affect human health. Corey says that many health maladies are closely related to one’s nutrition and vice versa. And it’s something he’s seen first-hand as a 911 paramedic, providing advanced life support for a large rural community. Corey also works part time in the emergency room at a Regions Hospital Level 1 Trauma Center in St. Paul, Minn.

As one of the industry’s most renowned forage specialists, Corey Catt helps farmers strike that delicate balance between nature, science and technology. Corey is also a 911 paramedic and works part time in the emergency room at a Regions Hospital Level 1 Trauma Center in St. Paul, Minn.

When we’re running low on sleep and feel like we’re racing against time, we can be tempted to take short cuts. That’s why this season I’m reminding you that “haste makes waste.” This time-tested adage has many applications to the spring planting season, but today I’m going to focus on three: (1) traveling on public roads, (2) handling chemicals and (3) being a good steward with seed treatments.

Even the most cautious drivers are at risk – whether they’re behind the wheel of a tractor or an automobile. Increased travel also increases the risk of accidents, especially on hills, around curves and when making left-hand turns. Conditions change very quickly, so we must be prepared to expect the unexpected during high risk times like spring planting season.

Many years ago I received a phone call from a sales manager, who was traveling to visit a farmer. He told me he was in a long line of traffic that has formed behind a tractor towing an implement and made a comment about how well marked the tractor and implement were. The tractor signaled it was going to turn left into a field drive. But as the tractor driver began to turn, a person traveling fast on a crotch rocket simultaneously decided to pass all the vehicles! Unfortunately, the cyclist was unable to see the turning tractor until it was too late.  At a high rate of speed, the cyclist struck the tire of the tractor.

Photo Courtesy of Darcy Maulsby. Practice patience and share the road! Pay special attention to tractors traveling up hills and around curves. Also be sure to be aware of tractors making left-hand turns.

Photo Courtesy of Darcy Maulsby.
Practice patience and share the road! Pay special attention to tractors traveling up hills and around curves. Also be sure to be aware of tractors making left-hand turns.

‘Tis the Season to Share the Road

No one likes to hear about accidents like this, let alone witness one. To help minimize your chances, below are a few things to consider when driving farm equipment on public roads:

  • Avoid busy streets and towns when possible.
  • Allow half the roadway to oncoming traffic and traffic following you.
  • Try to move equipment during daylight hours whenever possible. Avoid moving farm equipment on public roads between sunset and sunrise or anytime when visibility is limited to 500 feet.
  • Properly light your farm equipment. Ensure turn signals, headlights and taillights conform to state vehicle codes. Use amber flashers to provide warning to motorists that hazards may exist.
  • Have slow moving vehicle emblems and reflectors in place on all tractors and implements. Emblems should be clean and in good condition; SMV signs are required for speeds less than 35 mph.

Be Cautious with Farm Chemicals

Photo Courtesy of Darcy Maulsby Seed treatments help protect corn seedlings from insects and disease, reducing insecticide use. Talc helps the seed flow through the planter, reducing wear and tear on the equipment. Personal Protection Equipment like long sleeves and gloves help farmers avoid exposure to dust when opening treated seed packaging.

Photo Courtesy of Darcy Maulsby
Seed treatments help protect corn seedlings from insects and disease, reducing insecticide use. Talc helps the seed flow through the planter, reducing wear and tear on the equipment. Personal Protection Equipment like long sleeves and gloves help farmers avoid exposure to dust when opening treated seed packaging.

We work around a lot of toxic substances in agriculture, and highest risk of exposure occurs in spring and summer time.  It sounds like a broken record to many, but please think through your steps of handling when working with farm chemicals.  Have correct sized manufacturers specified protective gear, and it helps if you use it.  Poisons can enter body through skin, lungs, eyes, and stomach.  It would be good to have MSDS sheets available for you commonly used products in the event something goes wrong.

Handle Seed Treatments Safely

My tips for handling seed treatments are very similar to handling farm chemicals. Always follow product label instructions. Use available equipment systems to limit your exposure. Maintain and calibrate application equipment.

Have a safe spring planting season! Be sure to follow the signs of stress, and stay safe in the home stretch.

Also be sure to use specific Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which may include: long pants, long-sleeved shirts/coveralls, chemical-resistant gloves, socks and no open-toed shoes. Depending on the farm chore additional PPE may be needed such as head, foot, ear and respirator protection.