Roadway Safety Tips for Motorists and Farmers during Planting Season

As temperatures rise, rural roadways will soon see an increase in farm equipment

AMES, Iowa – Planting season has begun with vigor, and it is crucial for motorists to be aware of safety precautions while sharing the roadways with farm machinery.

Steven Freeman, a professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State University, shares his top advice for motorists, along with farm equipment operators.

“We all rely on farmers who are in the fields planting and doing their job. It is important for them to get to those fields safely to do what they need to do,” said Steven Freeman. “Both farmers and motorists need to be reminded that they need to share the roads.”

As a motorist, you are almost always traveling at a higher speed than those driving farm equipment. When traveling at these speeds, the gap between farm equipment and motorists closes very quickly. Therefore, it is extremely important to remember to slow down early on, when approaching farm machinery.

Motorists are also advised to be patient. Pass with care and avoid inappropriate honking. The reason the farmer may not be pulling over could be due to unforeseen safety concerns. For example, the edges of roadways along county highways cannot always support the weight of the machine to allow the farmer to pull over.

Safety tips for farmersAlong with motorists, farm machinery operators also have safety precautions to be aware of. While driving a piece of equipment onto the roadways, it is important to check that all lights and reflective markers on the machine are working, visible and clear. During this time of the year, the Iowa sun is low in the sky, making it extremely difficult to see what is in front of you, especially at dusk. If possible, try not to travel during these busy times.

Freeman also wants to remind farmers to take care of themselves. Even when the rush is on to get crops in the ground, farmers should still be getting enough sleep and eating healthy to minimize unfortunate events.

By remembering to share the road safely, the risk for disaster can be minimized.

Tips for the rural driver

  • Be prepared for farm vehicles. Farm vehicles travel significantly slower than automobiles. You may only have a few seconds to react and slow down before overtaking a farm vehicle. Be prepared to slow down and follow; you may not have room to pass.
  • Slow down and keep your distance. Don’t assume that the farmer can pull over and let you pass. Shoulder conditions may make it unsafe for the farmer to pull heavy equipment to the side of the road.
  • Be sure of the farmer’s intentions before passing. Don’t assume that a farm vehicle is turning right or pulling over to let you pass if it pulls to the right side of the road. A farmer may have to swing right in order to make a left turn. Wait until you know what the farmer is planning to do.
  • Be patient and enjoy the scenery if you find yourself following a farm vehicle. Even if you have to follow a farm vehicle for a couple of miles, it will only take a few minutes of your time.
  • Be especially alert in the evenings; farmers are returning from the fields and dusk makes farm vehicles more difficult to see.

Tips for the farmer

  • Only allow licensed, or appropriately trained, operators to take farm machinery onto the road. Youth who are able to operate machinery in the field may not be able to deal safely with traffic and other road hazards.
  • Make sure farm machinery is equipped with the lighting and marking safety devices recommended by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers and required by state and local laws. Be sure to remind all operators to use the appropriate hazard lights and turn signals when traveling on roads.
  • Minimize total vehicle width and secure equipment in the transport position before entering roadways.
  • Watch for approaching traffic and vehicles trying to pass. If possible, pull over and let traffic pass safely, but be alert for roadside hazards.
  • Obey all traffic laws and signs.
  • Signal intentions to motorists and avoid sudden or unexpected maneuvers.
  • Exercise additional care when entering roadways, approaching unsigned or “blind” intersections, crossing narrow bridges, going around sharp corners or going over hills.

Governor Kim Reynolds Acknowledges Key Policy Priority for Iowa Cattlemen

Article courtesy of Iowa Cattlemen’s Association

AMES, Iowa – Last night, Gov. Kim Reynolds delivered her Condition of the State address to Iowans. The address unveiled her vision for Iowa, which included a key policy priority for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA): enhancing restrictions on foreign ownership of agricultural land.

“At our recent annual meeting, ICA members voted to enact policy to protect food security and national security by limiting foreign ownership of agricultural land,” said ICA CEO Bryan Whaley. “Current federal law imposes no restrictions on the amount of private agricultural land that may be foreign-owned. The Iowa Legislature can’t control what’s happening in other states but our elected officials can ensure Iowa farmland continues to be owned and operated by Iowa farm families.”

Foreign investors own more than 40 million acres of agricultural land nationwide. Between 2010 and 2021, nearly 16 million of those acres were purchased by foreign investors. While this only totals approximately three percent of all U.S. private land, it’s been more than enough to garner the attention of federal lawmakers and ICA members.

“There are already enough barriers for farmers, particularly young producers, to build and grow a profitable operation,” said Whaley. “As we look at maintaining our family farms and ultimately our food chain, we need to make sure we eliminate things that threaten our member’s way of life. We are grateful to have the support of Gov. Reynolds on this issue.”

ICA appreciates the commitment to tightening restrictions on foreign ownership of agricultural land in Iowa and looks forward to working alongside Gov. Reynolds to enhance our existing laws.

About Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA): Iowa Cattlemen’s Association represents nearly 8,000 beef-producing families and associated companies dedicated to the future of Iowa’s beef cattle industry. ICA’s mission is “Grow Iowa’s beef cattle business through advocacy, leadership, and education.”

Division of Agriculture has three inductees in the 2024 class of the Agriculture Hall of Fame

Article courtesy of Division of Agriculture Research & Extension, University of Arkansas System.

LITTLE ROCK — Three of this year’s inductees to the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame — Fred Bourland, Mark Cochran and Charles Looney — have connections to the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

“The selection of these three into the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame truly attests to the quality and national impact of the people we have working for the Division of Agriculture on behalf of Arkansas’ agriculture industry,” said Deacue Fields, vice president-agriculture and head of the Division of Agriculture. “There is no greater honor — not only for these men, but also for those of us who work with them.”

Fred Bourland is a legend in the cotton industry. Bourland grew up on a farm in northeastern Arkansas and went to the University of Arkansas to escape. It didn’t work.

Fred Bourland, Charles Looney and Mark Cochran are all to be inducted into the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2024. All have Division of Agriculture connections. (U of A System Division of Agriculture photo)

With Ph.D. in hand in 1978, Bourland went to work as an assistant professor and cotton breeder at Mississippi State University. In 1988, he came back to Arkansas as a professor to breed cotton varieties and teach at the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. In 1997, Bourland moved to Keiser – roughly 10 miles from his family’s Mississippi County farm – to continue his cotton breeding and research program while serving as director for the Northeast Research and Extension Center. In 2016, he stepped down as director and now focuses on cotton variety development.

His honors include the 2000 Genetics Research Award from the National Cotton Council, the 2010 International Cotton Researcher of the Year from the International Cotton Advisory Committee and the 2015 Cotton Research and Promotion Program Hall of Fame from the Cotton Board and Cotton, Inc., among others.

Mark Cochran spent 40 years working to improve the productivity and profitability of Arkansas farmers and ranchers as a faculty member at the University of Arkansas, including 10 years as vice president of agriculture for the UA System and head of the U of A System Division of Agriculture. He retired in 2021.

Cochran served as chairman of the national Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, from which he earned the President’s Award. One of the most significant accomplishments of Cochran’s career was the creation of the COTMAN program, a computer-based cotton production guide widely used by farmers to help manage costs and improve yield efficiencies.

Cochran also led efforts to obtain funding for the construction of the Don Tyson Center for Agricultural Sciences in Fayetteville, the Northeast Rice Research and Extension Center in Harrisburg and the expansion of the highly successful Arkansas Discovery Farms program, which now encompasses 13 farms and delivers scientific analysis to help determine the effectiveness of on-farm conservation practices.

Cochran came to Arkansas in 1982 to start his teaching career after earning his master’s and Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Michigan State University. He earned a bachelor’s degree from New Mexico State University.

Cattle have been a large part of Charles Looney’s life since he was a young boy in Camden. He is recognized internationally as an expert in cattle genetics and reproductive technologies. He spent 35 years in the industry in Texas before returning to his home state in 2018 as professor of cattle genetics improvement for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. His expertise centers on embryo transfer, in-vitro fertilization, tissue banking for cloning, timed breeding and on-the-farm use of these technologies to improve beef cattle genetics.

Looney has graduate degrees from the University of Arkansas and Louisiana State University. He founded two cattle genetics companies in Texas, namely OvaGenix and Ultimate Genetics, after serving as a scientist and consultant in the field for several years. While he was working for Granada Biosciences, Looney was on the team that produced the first embryo-derived bovine clones. His work at Ultimate Genetics included the world’s first transgenic cloned calves and the first cloned bull.

Looney earned the President’s Award for Outstanding Service from the American Embryo Transfer Association in 2019 and an Award of Distinction from the University of Arkansas in 2014. The Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association presented him with its Producer Education Award in 2022.

“What an amazing group of farmers and those who help our farmers make agriculture Arkansas’ No. 1 business sector,” said Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Chair Debbie Moreland of Roland. “Agriculture is such a critical cultural and economic part of Arkansas. It is what binds so much of our state together.”

“These we will induct have made a national impact on rice, soybeans, cattle and cotton and have helped steer the academic and research efforts that underpin Arkansas agriculture.”

“I say this often to my friends, and it bears repeating; agriculture is one of the great success stories of our state. The Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame is pleased to bring recognition to these individuals who have impacted our state’s largest industry in such a positive way.”

Class XXXVI induction ceremonies are set for 11:30 a.m. March 1 at the Grand Ballroom of the DoubleTree Hotel in Little Rock. Contact Cindra Jones at 501-228-1609 for ticket information or click here to purchase tickets online.

To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit Follow us on X and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow on X at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit Follow us on X at @AgInArk.

About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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