PRINCETON, Ky. — It’s planting season here in Kentucky, and the Kentucky Soybean Board reminds those driving farm equipment and passenger vehicles alike to share the road. “Getting back in the field in the spring is one of the best things about farming,” said Board Chairman Jed Clark of Graves County. “But at the same time, it can be dangerous – both in the field and when we have to move equipment on the road.”
In many states, and even in some areas of Kentucky, farmers are lucky enough to have hundreds, sometimes thousands of acres in a single, supersized field. (For reference, an acre is roughly the size of a football field.) More often, though, farmers find themselves moving sprayers and planters, tractors and other equipment from one field to the next in the race to get seed in the ground.
Anytime farmers put equipment on the road, they’re extra-cautious, but they’re also nervous. “So many things could easily go wrong. Farm equipment is big, it moves slowly, and it makes wide turns. On behalf of the Kentucky Soybean Board, I just want to say thanks in advance to everyone who is patient with us when we’re moving equipment,” Clark said. “We don’t like being on the road any more than other drivers like us being there – but it’s the only way to get from one field to the next.”
Tips for those of us in rural areas who may encounter farm equipment this planting season include:
Plan ahead. If you know that the route to your destination includes farm territory, leave a little early so that you have extra time and don’t feel so hurried.
Slow down. Farm vehicles move slowly. They may be just coming out of one field and already preparing to turn into another. To be safe, maintain a 50-foot “cushion” between your vehicle and the equipment.
Yield. Please give farm equipment the right-of-way when meeting it on the road. Tractors and sprayers do a great job in the wide-open field, but they weren’t designed to navigate the narrow roads found in rural Kentucky.
Pass Carefully. Country roads are often narrow, curvy and hilly. Be sure you can see a reasonable distance ahead before you consider passing slow-moving equipment, and keep an eye on the driver of that equipment. He or she will use signals when possible, but there may not always be flashing lights. Watch for hand signals in addition to blinkers.
Take a second look. Before you pull into an intersection or make a move to pass, be sure your path is clear in all directions.
Keep in mind: Farm equipment has just as much right to use public roadways as other motor vehicles. Extra-wide farm machinery may have to take up more than one lane – it can’t be helped, and the operator is dodging mailboxes and road signs. You may not be able to see around the equipment to pass. If you are meeting equipment, the driver will certainly appreciate you pulling off to the side if possible. Farmers try to be mindful of traffic building up behind them, and – when it is safe to do so – will often pull over to let passenger vehicles around them.
Most important: please be patient. Zipping around slow-moving equipment is dangerous, and the possibility of shaving a few minutes off your arrival time isn’t worth risking your life or the lives of others. The person driving that equipment is someone’s mom or dad, husband or wife, someone’s son or daughter, and they want to get home to their family safely every night.
Kentucky’s soybean farmers thank you for your patience and cooperation this planting season.
— Kentucky Soybean Board
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