Crops Insights

Farmers and drivers: Tips for safety during harvest season


For farmers, fall is one of the busiest times of the year. They are working around the clock to harvest and transport the crops they worked hard to grow. During this time, farmers use many different pieces of large equipment. Using this harvest equipment comes with its own set of risks. Accidents, whether in the field or on the road, are prone to happen. Producers must be aware and follow all safety guidelines for their equipment. People should be mindful of all harvest equipment and exercise caution when encountering them on the road.

Kim Wilkins, an Alabama Extension agronomic crops regional agent, offers the following safety tips that farmers should follow during harvest season.

Farmer safety

Test equipment

Wilkins said it is important for farmers to test their harvest equipment before using it.

“Farmers should test their equipment in a shady area when they are not pressed for time,” Wilkins said. ” This can cut down on problems in the field and save time and headaches in the long run.”

Don’t rush

Wilkins admitted that the biggest issue she sees with equipment is when farmers tend to get in a hurry. This is when mistakes can easily happen because short cuts are taken.

“Farmers need to remember to slow down and think,” she said. “Getting in a hurry is not worth losing a finger or a life.”

Take breaks when necessary

Other issues central to harvest season are dehydration, exhaustion, and stress.

“Producers tend to push themselves to get the job done and not take care of themselves,” Wilkins said.

Taking short breaks to refresh and recoup can help farmers prevent many accidents. Health is important and should not be ignored.

Safety triangles and signals

The red reflection of a safety triangle is a universal sign for a slow-moving vehicle. Farmers should ensure that all of their equipment has this triangle where it is easily visible. Also, before moving equipment from one field to another, farmers should make sure that all signals on the equipment are working. This is another way to make drivers aware of the slow-moving equipment.

Watch for equipment on the road

Wilkins said it is equally important that drivers understand harvest equipment will be on the roads during this time of year.

“During harvest season, large equipment is on the roads much more frequently,” she said. “Cars that do not yield to these pieces of equipment put everyone’s lives in danger.”

Wilkins emphasized that these pieces of equipment are often many times wider than the lanes they are traveling in.

“Please remember that a lot of harvest equipment, including trucks hauling crops, cannot stop on a dime,” Wilkins said. “It is also difficult for farmers to move this equipment over, especially on a bridge or overpass. Drivers should respect this large equipment.”

To keep everyone safe, both farmers and drivers should follow these safety guidelines this harvest season. For more information on harvest safety, visit Alabama Extension online at or your local office.

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