Ag Equipment: Staying Safe

The custom applicator is pressed for time. There are a lot of fields to spray. A nasty weather front is approaching. Customers are antsy — they all want their fields treated ASAP. Not surprisingly, the operator is tired already, even though it’s only mid-afternoon. It’s past time to book it over to the next field a few miles away. Distracted by the job at hand and a ringing cell phone, the operator leaves the field and swings wide to take a left on a secondary public highway. He doesn’t even see the car coming over the slight rise in the roadway at 70 mph — until it’s too late.

This scenario is real, especially during the height of the busy application season. Getting that sprayer from base to field and from field to field can be a recipe for disaster, but one that can be easily avoided when an operator maintains his focus, divides his labor appropriately and applies the right amount of smarts and caution when moving application equipment on public roadways.

“Most roadway accidents between motorists and application equipment are the result of  ‘avoidable distractions,’” says David McKnight, associate director of member services and communications for the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA). “Given the widespread encroachment of suburbia into rural farming areas, the possibility of accidents is going up, and sprayer and floater operators need to have their guard up.”

To that end, ARA is currently working on a new set of guidelines designed to increase operator safety on public roads. The association is collecting manufacturers’ equipment manuals, evaluating different road-related scenarios and coordinating with the Association of Equipment Manu­facturers (AEM). The target date for completion and distribution of these safety guidelines is late 2012, according to McKnight.

“What we’ve found is that the various operator manuals contain a wealth of information about safe operation of sprayers and floaters in the field while making applications, but very little information about moving this equipment on roads and highways,” says Billy Pirkle, current ARA chairman and senior director of environmental, health and safety for Crop Production Services (CPS), Loveland, CO. In addition to the ARA safety initiative underway, CPS is also updating a video-based safety training program for the company’s operators. Counting sprayers, floaters and tractor-mounted spray systems, CPS has roughly 4,000 rigs running nationwide, according to Pirkle.

“Overall, the safety record for application equipment operators is very good,” Pirkle points out. “Nevertheless, we do have some accidents, and we have had some fatalities. Both CPS and ARA will be addressing this situation to minimize the possibility of these types of roadway accidents.”

Some Tips

Paul Haefner, an AGCO product specialist at the company’s manufacturing facility in Jackson, MN, offers these tips for safe transport of self-propelled sprayers and spreaders on public roadways:

  • Don’t try to multi-task when driving on roadways. Forget the paperwork and gearing up for the next job. The sprayer cab is an office, and you have to leave the office behind when driving.
  • Given the size of farm equipment in general and large sprayers in particular, it’s very easy for an automobile driver to misjudge your speed and come up on you from behind at a high rate of speed. Don’t let this unnerve you.
  • Stay out of traffic lanes when possible. Automobiles following behind you will have difficulty seeing around your machine. Slow down and pull over to let them pass at the first opportunity when road shoulders allow.
  • Be extra careful when pulling out of a field on to a public roadway. Watch for trees and visibility issues. Remember that your spray rig requires a wide turning radius when pulling on to a road.
  • Use flashers, headlights and amber rotating beacons where regulations allow to improve the visibility of your machine.
  • If an operator runs off the road, it is better to slow down and make your way back on to the road, rather than try to overcorrect.
  • Though not a roadway issue, applicators should be very careful when unfolding and folding spray booms following transport to ensure that booms do not come in contact with any overhead wires or power lines. Get out of the cab and survey the space above your machine before moving booms.

AGCO takes roadway safety very seriously and has put serious effort into making many qualitative safety improvements to its newer-model RoGator, TerraGator and Spra-Coupe equipment. These include the following:

  • Reduced cab noise levels of up to 10 decibels to improve operator comfort and reduce fatigue.
  • Standard SMV and SIS signage complement existing popular safety and visibility enhancements.
  • Easier accessibility to controls to help significantly reduce operator fatigue and stress, which translates into a much more alert and safe operator. All cab operator controls are conveniently located so the operator will not have to search for any functions while operating on the road.
  • Lower boom-transport position puts booms at the lowest possible point, allowing the operator to look over the boom structure rather than through it, dramatically reducing blind spots.
  • A sloped hood, redesigned cab, removal of high-post boom rests and relocation of mirrors all contribute to excellent all-around visibility.
  • Mirrors on the chassis have been repositioned so the operator has a better view along the side and behind the machine. Side-view mirrors are located on the back side of the boom rest, which also improves lateral visibility and allows the operator to clearly see other vehicles when they are passing and overtaking the machine.
  • The RoGator has superior road lighting with four lights for road use with standard halogen road and high-beam lights. Road lights are controlled through the lighting handle on the steering column, placing the light switches in the same location as many cars and trucks, offering built-in familiarity.
  • The road lights — coupled with bright tail lights and hazard flashers — as well as optional cab and system rotating beacons, means that others will see the machine on the road.
  • To operate the RoGator at road speeds, a hydraulic lock out prevents any unwanted movement of hydraulic functions, like booms or wheel tracking.

If you are interested in joining the ARA Commercial Applicator Training Manual task force, please contact David McKnight here.

Leave a Reply

Equipment Stories

Food IT Fork-to-Farm
Precision AgThe Mixing Bowl Event Connects Technology, Food, and Ag Innovators
May 24, 2017
For the fourth consecutive year, The Mixing Bowl presents FOOD IT, under the theme “Fork to Farm.” Action-oriented entrepreneurs, industry Read More
farmer Kip Tom
Precision AgAg Tech: On the Cusp of Something Big?
May 15, 2017
The investment and ag-tech sectors’ continuing courtship of agriculture, smoldering for three or four years now, was well in evidence at Read More
BASF Maglis tablet retailer grower
Precision AgQ&A: What BASF’s Latest Foray into Precision Ag Means For Growers
May 11, 2017
In late April, BASF agreed to acquire U.S. precision ag player ZedX, a leader in the development of agronomic weather, Read More
Redball Broadcast Hood
EquipmentBroadcast Spray Hoods Stop Wind Factor
May 2, 2017
Nozzles get a lot of attention for their drift reduction contributions, but other technologies are developing that offer results as Read More
Trending Articles
Migrant farm workers
LegislationTrump: Immigration Crackdown Won’t Impact U.S. Agriculture
May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump said he would seek to keep his tough immigration enforcement policies from harming the U.S. farm industry Read More
AGCO Ratliff featured
Eric SfiligojRemembering Robert Ratliff
May 15, 2017
With all the fast-paced happenings in agriculture this spring, with multiple mergers in the works and planting season in full Read More
Case sprayer nozzle closeup
EquipmentSpray Application: A Nozzle Renaissance
May 2, 2017
If you had asked four-decade ag veteran Mark Bartel, President of Wilger Inc., just a few years ago what lay Read More
ManagementWashington Update, Dow-DuPont Earnings, and the Passing of an AGCO Legend
April 27, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the latest Beltway news, crop protection company 1st quarter numbers, and the Read More
Crop InputsFlying Under the Radar No More, FMC Goes Big
April 13, 2017
Describing FMC as “under the radar,” admittedly, is probably a stretch. But in a snap of the fingers, FMC upped Read More
Young Corn Plants
Crop NutritionStill Hunting Yields
April 1, 2017
There’s no denying it — the agricultural marketplace today is undergoing a fundamental shift in fortunes. Not too many years Read More
Latest News
ManagementTrip Report, PSM R.I.P, and Ag’s Reaction to Federal Bu…
May 25, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about their recent travels, the end for Process Safety Management (PSM), and how Read More
Corn soil
LegislationARA Member Testifies Before Senate Ag Committee
May 25, 2017
Agricultural retailers stand on the front-lines of the American economy. As trusted advisors to America’s farmers, ag retailers are uniquely Read More
Young corn plants in soil
Crop InputsFortenza Insecticide Seed Treatment Receives EPA Regist…
May 25, 2017
Fortenza seed treatment insecticide from Syngenta has received registration approval from the U.S. EPA for use on corn and cotton Read More
ManagementFarm Market iD’s Agriculture Database Now Covers More T…
May 25, 2017
Farm Market iD, farmmarketid.com, has announced the release of its 2017 Annual Update of its farm and land database. The Read More
Food IT Fork-to-Farm
Precision AgThe Mixing Bowl Event Connects Technology, Food, and Ag…
May 24, 2017
For the fourth consecutive year, The Mixing Bowl presents FOOD IT, under the theme “Fork to Farm.” Action-oriented entrepreneurs, industry Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Seed/BiotechKansas State University Researchers Find New Pathogens …
May 24, 2017
A single seed seems so simple. Put it in the ground, give it some care, and you’ve soon grown food. Read More
Soybean Field
HerbicidesNew Dicamba Herbicide Premix Coming Soon from Syngenta
May 24, 2017
Syngenta has announced the name of its new herbicide featuring the active ingredients of S-metolachlor and dicamba. Upon registration by Read More
Eric SfiligojMonsanto ‘Picks Its Battles’ by Nixing Deere Deal
May 23, 2017
Having been in the trade journalism game since the mid-1980s, I remember several watershed moments during my career. One of Read More
FungicidesSyngenta Launches New Seed Treatment Fungicide
May 22, 2017
Syngenta has announced the launch of PLENARIS seed treatment fungicide for the control of downy mildew in sunflower. PLENARIS contains Read More
Corn close up
Crop InputsMonsanto’s First HPPD Herbicide Garners EPA Appro…
May 19, 2017
Monsanto announced today that EPA has federally approved Harness MAX Herbicide, the first herbicide in the Monsanto portfolio to provide Read More
ManagementPrecision Planting Deal, China Developments, and Enviro…
May 18, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Dan Jacobs discuss the latest news on John Deere’s now dead deal for Precision Planting, China’s Read More
Soybean aphid leaf
InsecticidesMulti-state Research Reveals IPM Best Option for Treatm…
May 17, 2017
About 89.5 million acres of soybeans will be planted across the U.S. in 2017 — a record high, according to Read More
GROWMARK-2017-Interns
CropLife 100GROWMARK Names 2017 Summer Interns
May 16, 2017
Forty-two college students are exploring agricultural career opportunities this summer as GROWMARK interns. They are working at FS member cooperatives Read More
Migrant farm workers
LegislationTrump: Immigration Crackdown Won’t Impact U.S. Ag…
May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump said he would seek to keep his tough immigration enforcement policies from harming the U.S. farm industry Read More
Flooded corn in Indiana
FertilizerBoth Wet and Dry Conditions Threaten Nitrogen Loss
May 15, 2017
The weather is notoriously unpredictable, leading to challenges for planting, harvesting and applying the nitrogen (N) your corn crop needs. Read More
farmer Kip Tom
Precision AgAg Tech: On the Cusp of Something Big?
May 15, 2017
The investment and ag-tech sectors’ continuing courtship of agriculture, smoldering for three or four years now, was well in evidence at Read More
AGCO Ratliff featured
Eric SfiligojRemembering Robert Ratliff
May 15, 2017
With all the fast-paced happenings in agriculture this spring, with multiple mergers in the works and planting season in full Read More
Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
ManagementOpinion: Shaking Your Perspective in Ag Retail
May 12, 2017
Some of you I’m sure have encountered our recently retired salesman extraordinaire, Dan Bellanger. He worked in the industry for Read More