You can tell it’s spring – flowers are blooming, bees are buzzing and…farm equipment is on the move.
Today’s farms are bigger and spread out further meaning there is probably a lot more equipment on the road today compared to years ago when farmers had smaller tracts of land. Farm equipment is bigger too, which often means traveling on bigger roads along with plenty of traffic.
We get it, it’s frustrating to be stuck behind a slow-moving tractor on your way to work, or if you’re late for an appointment. We’re not trying to be a problem, we just need to share the road while moving from field to field.
Many of our fields aren’t connected to our main location. Like many other farmers who rent ground that means we need to take all the equipment necessary down the road. Just as a matter of policy for us, the danger or risk of moving equipment is weighed against the time needed to travel and work the ground at a remote location. We’ve decided that the acreage needs to be such that it would take us a full day to work it – instead of some small patch of ground that would only take three or four hours.
There are some farmers who have to travel into more urban or congested areas, such as ground around an airport or around cell towers. These type of areas can be utilized for ag purposes, rather than retail or residential.
While today’s equipment is pretty good on the road in terms of speed, we still do all we can to ensure we are visible with flashers and light bars, as well as avoiding congested areas at peak times.
We try to be considerate and move over safely so cars can pass, but we have to avoid deep ditches or mail boxes. Many times, drivers coming from the opposite direction will stop and pull over, but they may still be near those hazards. We certainly appreciate it when people are patient and many motorists are, although some still use sign language that’s less than appreciative. We try to smile and wave anyway.
While we’ve been fortunate to avoid any serious situations while moving equipment, we have hit a mailbox or two. It’s our philosophy that the best thing we can do is knock down a mailbox. When we do, we stop, tell the resident right away ,and then come back to fix it. We fix it right, and usually they get a better mailbox than they’ve had before. Now they have a better impression of us and appreciate what we do.
Utility companies also appreciate us. Most of our equipment is really tall, (but still legal). At times, we may encounter a low power or phone line and let the companies know. They are quick to respond and rectify the situation.
As a motorist, I’d ask for your patience again this busy planting season. As a farmer, I encourage my fellow farmers to be considerate too. Together we can all share the road and get there safely.