Perfect your planter

Producers can add features to improve the safety of their farm equipment

By Jackie Clark
Staff Writer
Better Farming

When it comes to farm equipment, “safety is very important and often overlooked,” Mark Burnham told Better Farming. He’s a farmer in Cobourg with experience in agricultural engineering.

“We aren't just talking about road safety either; personal and environmental safety are also very important.”

The area around his farm is hilly and highly populated, so “transport width, stopping requirements and lighting are all very important to not only keep us, but also the public, safe,” he explained.

Producers should remember that “just because you can pull (an implement) doesn't mean you can stop it. Tractors have a pretty poorly rated braking system considering the loads they typically pull,” he added. “If you can, add brakes to your implements.”

Customizing equipment adds additional safety considerations.

“We had to think long and hard about whether the hitch we built for pulling our fertilizer cart was going to be strong enough to withstand the heavy loads and stresses, not only in the field but also on the roads,” Burnham said. “The other concern was whether or not (the hitch) would swing the cart into coming traffic as we turned into a field. The last thing I wanted was a liability lawsuit.

“We also had to redesign the catwalk of the planter so that it was safe to work on and handle bags of seed.”

Mark Burnham Planter Camera
   Mark Burnham photo

Burnham wants to “add a camera behind the cart to see traffic, obstacles or people on the road or in the field for one last safety measure,” he added.

Certain safety features lessen the equipment’s effects on the environment. For example, Burnham upgraded the tires on his planter for safety reasons because they “were not rated to carry the planter if it had basically any additional load in it,” he explained. In the process, he lowered the tire pressure and reduced soil compaction.

“I know some farmers have installed things like the vacuum dust diverters to direct potentially hazardous dust from being blown around and affecting wildlife,” he added.

Farmers should keep safety top-of-mind when completing routine maintenance or adjusting their planting equipment.

“When it comes to safety, always refer to the operator’s manual,” said CJ Parker, crop production product specialist at Case IH. For example, “if you’re underneath the planter, (make sure) cylinder locks are in place.”

Many safety considerations are common-sense things that most producers already know, he explained. But sometimes farmers skip steps to save time.

Follow all safety recommendations when working on planters to avoid accidents that could lead to serious injury. BF

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