Farm Safety on the Road: Harvest 2017

Across America, all farmers have at least this in common: farm safety is important. It is important year round. And it’s even more important during harvest when farm equipment is on the road. For us grass seed farmers in Oregon, harvest is literally around the corner. In fact, there are a few fields already cut and awaiting harvest as I type this. By this time next week, we’ll be heavy into grass seed harvest.

Windrowers, or swathers, headed to a field to “cut” the grass.

Across Oregon, mostly in rural Oregon, there is farm equipment on the road every day now, and will be for the next few months. We’re harvesting over 220 crops in Oregon and that’s going to take a lot of farm equipment – big and small – to get seed, feed, fiber and food from the field to ultimately your dinner table (or front lawn!).

So this morning was a perfect time to appear on AM Northwest on KATU as part of the Oregon Seed Council. Nick Bowers of KB Seed (@kb_seed) and I talked about why on-the-road-farm-safety is important, why farm equipment is on the road, and when it’s safe to pass. Watch the video here.

Some tips for motorists from the the farming community:

  • Farmers have as much right to use the roads as the rest of the public.
  • Farmers are simply getting from field to field with their equipment.
  • Slow down; a car traveling at 55 MPH takes only 5 seconds to overtake a machine traveling at 15 MPH if the length of a football field is ahead.
  • Don’t pass within 100 feet of an intersection, bridge, corner or overpass because the equipment may be wider than the roadway and need to use both lanes in those areas.
  • Equipment will need the entire road to turn, either right or left, off the highway.
  • Don’t assume the farmer knows you’re around. He/she may not be able to see in all directions, depending on the type of equipment he’s using.
  • Even if the farmer sees you, he/she might not be able to get off the road right away.
  • Farmers do know they hold up traffic and they will try to pull off the road as soon as they can do so safely.
  • Motorists should not pass farm equipment unless they can see clearly ahead of the equipment. Drivers must also be aware that someone from behind may be trying to pass.

Farmers have an important obligation to use safe practices on the road too:

  • Oregon law requires a slow moving vehicle reflector on any machine that travels the road slower than 25 mph.
  • Edges of equipment should be marked with reflective tape and reflectors.
  • When on the road, equipment should have front lights on and rear spotlights off.
  • Avoid using highways during rush hours, bad weather and at night when they can.

Moral of the story? Caution and courtesy goes a long way when dealing with slow moving vehicles on the roads. Pay special attention during the busy travel and farming seasons to make sure everyone stays safe.  We all have a stake in safety around farm vehicles.  Drivers are counting on farmers to be visible and predictable, and we are counting on them to be cautious so we all make it home safe and sound.

Happy Harvest!

For more information on Oregon grass seed, see here.

For rural road safety from the Oregon Farm Bureau, see here.

For more pictures of farm equipment of the road, see below:

Earth Day from the Farm 

We celebrated Earth Day yesterday. And the day before that. And the day before that. Oh, and tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow. You get the picture, right? Every day is earth day on the farm. Literally every decision made has the next year, and the next decade, in mind. Every pesticide sprayed, every crop planted, all matter not just for next crop’s (hopeful) high yield and profit per acre, but what’s next to plant. 

As I took some pictures yesterday, my focus was grabbing a cute shot of Uncle Amos and baby Jude. But as I look at it today on Earth Day, it’s amazing to see all that is happening in this one picture. 


Water! Drip line irrigation saves water resources by pinpointing exactly where and when the trees need it. 

Planting alfalfa in between the rows:

  • Prevents topsoil erosion
  • Increases organic matter in the soil
  • Prevents soil compaction
  • Provides a return on investment for us while we wait for the trees to produce hazelnuts as we sell the alfalfa to a local dairy. 

And the trees! As trees grow, they remove carbon dioxide from the air, store carbon in the trees and soil, and release oxygen into the atmosphere.

Farmers, ranchers and foresters are the original environmentalists and live off of the land literally – believe me when I say our top priority is taking care of our most precious resources. 

Happy Earth Day from farmers, ranchers and foresters all over working to provide food and fiber for us all! 

Check out the below for more Earth Day fun!