Error on the Side of Caution during Planting Season
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.
‘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
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.
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.