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

A finished Willmar 16-ton side-shooting tender.
TendersNew Production Facility Helps Willmar
July 17, 2014
In 1963, a group of businessmen started Willmar. Today, a half-century later, the company is one of the ag industry’s longest-running brands. Read More
SprayersHooded Sprayers Help Minimize Spray Drift
May 15, 2014
Willmar Fabrica­tion's hooded sprayers have the potential to minimize pesticide drift, especially when combined with other drift reduction technologies, such as drift retardant adjuvants or low-drift nozzles. Read More
Nozzles18 Spray Nozzles That Reduce Drift, Optimize Coverage
May 7, 2014
This year’s line-up of tips feature the versatility to handle any spray job. View photos and product descriptions of the latest nozzles on the market in our slideshow. Read More
NozzlesChanging Crop Protection Landscape Demands Drift Advances
May 1, 2014
New weed control systems and growing public pressure mean technologies to minimize drift can’t come fast enough. Read More

Trending Articles

Green Valley Ag facility
Retail FacilitiesGreen Valley Ag Adopts A.J. Sackett’s Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology At New Facility
July 8, 2014
Sackett's Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology is making huge strides around the world. Green Valley Ag adopts the technology at its new facility to support its advancing agronomic needs. Read More
Retail FacilitiesWaconia Manufacturing Builds Facility Designed For Speed, Efficiency
July 7, 2014
To make its new hub facility more efficient, Cooperative Elevator enlisted the aid of Waconia Manufacturing. Read More
EquipmentSummer Show Preview 2014: Superior Sprayers Take The Field
July 3, 2014
In this final installment of our coverage of the major categories of Big IRON that retailers can expect to test-drive at this summer’s events, here is a look at 19 sprayers. Read More
Scouting a soybean patch at Green Valley Ag.
EmployeesCropLife Compensation Survey: Battling Talent Drain
July 2, 2014
Retailers too often lose employees to companies outside of agriculture, while recruiting efforts are most often limited to competitors and other ag-focused organizations. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces SureStart II Herbicide
June 16, 2014
The enhanced formulation has improved viscosity and increased stability under heat and controls more than 60 high-anxiety grasses and broadleaf weeds found in corn fields. Read More
HerbicidesBASF Investing $270 Million To Expand U.S. Herbicide Production
June 11, 2014
BASF has invested more than $270 million to expand herbicide production capacities in the U.S., including more than 20 new products to be launched over next two years. Read More

Latest News

StewardshipMonsanto Joins Panel Of Innovators To Advance Research …
July 30, 2014
Monsanto Co. and The Climate Corp., its division, recently joined a roundtable of experts at the White House to share ideas and research approaches to help the world’s farmers manage and adapt to the impact of climate change on the global food supply. Read More
Crop InputsSoybean Checkoff Produces Big ROI
July 30, 2014
Under the soy checkoff program, all U.S. soybean farmers contribute a small percentage of their gross soybean sales for research and marketing projects that maximize their profit potential. Read More
CropLife 100Learfield Sports, CHS Agree To Football-Centric, Colleg…
July 30, 2014
CHS Inc. will embark on a highly integrated collegiate sports sponsorship platform with 24 Division I universities in 19 states designed to reach the farmer-owned cooperative's rural owners and customers. Read More
LegislationUSDA Implements Key Farm Bill Crop Insurance Provision
July 30, 2014
The new Supplemental Coverage Option, available through the federal crop insurance program and set to begin with the 2015 crop year, is designed to help protect producers from yield and market volatility. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Forms New Organizational Structure For Its…
July 30, 2014
The new structure will provide more responsive internal support and will allow regional vice presidents and area managers to spend more time with customers, on talent development and on operational excellence across branches. Read More
Palmer pigweed in cotton
HerbicidesNew Training Modules On Herbicide Resistance Now Availa…
July 30, 2014
The Weed Science Society of America has announced the availability of three new education modules on herbicide resistance in weeds. Read More
HerbicidesWillowood To Market Glufosinate
July 28, 2014
Willowood USA recently announced that Federal EPA has approved its technical registration for glufosinate. Read More
InsecticidesHow To Scout For Corn Earworms In Corn
July 28, 2014
In her weekly report, University of Missouri Agronomy Specialist Jill Scheidt discusses what to look for when scouting for corn earworm. Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Pioneer, Weyerhaeuser Enter Technology License A…
July 28, 2014
The agreement brings together agricultural and forestry know-how to sustainably improve crop productivity for corn growers around the world. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Launches Global iPad App
July 28, 2014
The free AGCO Global iPad App can be downloaded from the Apple iTunes Store and features the full family of RoGator self-propelled sprayers and TerraGator high-floatation spreaders. Read More
Eric SfiligojYuma Centennial Ag Supply Earns 2014 National Environme…
July 28, 2014
Colorado-based ag retailer receives top trophy in 24th annual DuPont Crop Protection/CropLife ceremony. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Forms Alliance With Wildlife Managment, Seed O…
July 25, 2014
The strategic alliance will provide Tecomate with key wildlife products, processing facilities, distribution centers and sales through Pinnacle’s ever-growing retail network. Read More
ManagementFranken Presses White House On RFS Support
July 25, 2014
Al Franken and a group of Senate democrats recently met with senior White House official John Podesta to urge the administration to change its position on an EPA proposal. Read More
ManagementASA, FarmLink To Launch ‘Operation Benchmark̵…
July 25, 2014
The American Soybean Association (ASA) and FarmLink are teaming up to help farmers close the $11 billion gap between what they harvested in 2013 and what they could harvest annually. Read More
StewardshipNorthey: Farmers Commit $1.4 Million to Try New Water Q…
July 25, 2014
The practices that are eligible for funding include cover crops, no-till or strip till and using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learn How Changing World Will Impact Iowa
July 24, 2014
Technology and understanding global consumer demand for Iowa farm products brought hundreds of farmers and agribusiness leaders to Ames recently for the annual Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Economic Summit. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue: Late Season Weeds May Require Manual Removal
July 24, 2014
Hand-rouging and pulling late season weeds by hand may be the best way to remove them, more so than using a herbicide, a Purdue Extension weed scientist says. Read More
Soybean Field
InsecticidesTransform WG, Closer SC Insecticides Receive R&D 10…
July 23, 2014
Dow AgroSciences has received the award from R&D Magazine for Transform WG insecticide and Closer SC insecticide with Isoclast active. Read More