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Badger View: Here are eight tips for staying safe on the farm during the busy spring.

Fran O'Leary, Wisconsin Agriculturist Editor

March 20, 2024

2 Min Read
John Deere tractor and planter in field
STAY SAFE: Take safety on the farm seriously, especially during the busy planting season.FARM PROGRESS

It’s officially spring! But in Wisconsin, we have experienced record-breaking warm weather since Jan. 22, which led many farmers across the state to venture out and start spring tillage work by the middle of March, before spring officially arrived. I’ve heard some Wisconsin farmers had already seeded oats and alfalfa before the first day of spring.

Spreading manure and getting a jump on spring fieldwork may help take some of the pressure off this busy time of year. Here are eight commonsense tips to help you and others stay safe on the farm this spring:

  1. Set realistic goals and be prepared. Farmers often feel pressured to get into the fields too early — especially if they see a neighbor already in the fields. Taking time now to get ready for planting season will prevent more mishaps in the long run.

  2. Be patient on the road. Sharing the road is always an issue this time of year. Drivers of both passenger vehicles and farm equipment need to be careful and considerate of one another.

  3. Make sure you’re visible. Is your slow-moving vehicle sign dull? Replace it. Are your caution lights working? Double-check them.

  4. Be accessible. Having a cellphone handy at all times can save time and energy. It also provides help in case of an emergency.

  5. Resist the temptation for riders. We all rode along on tractors when we were children, but that doesn’t make it right. A child riding shotgun in the buddy seat may cause distractions.

  6. Protect yourself and others. Ensure all family members and employees operating equipment wear gloves, safety glasses and hearing protection, depending on the task.

  7. Stay alert and get some sleep. Yes, that’s easier said than done this time of year. Farmers and farm employees still need between six and eight hours of sleep every 24 hours to avoid exhaustion. Sleep deprivation and fatigue slows down response time, and that’s when things can go wrong. Don’t forget to eat, drink plenty of fluids and take regular breaks.

  8. Pack a safety kit. A first-aid kit should include Band-Aids, small towels and antibiotic ointment for small cuts. Keep one in the truck, one in the shop and one in the tractor cab.

Take safety on the farm seriously, especially during the busy spring planting season. Wear a seat belt when driving a tractor. Communicate. Get plenty of sleep, and don’t forget to take breaks. The life you save may be your own!

Read more about:

Farm Safety

About the Author(s)

Fran O'Leary

Wisconsin Agriculturist Editor

Even though Fran was born and raised on a farm in Illinois, she has spent most of her life in Wisconsin. She moved to the state when she was 18 years old and later graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

Fran has 25 years of experience writing, editing and taking pictures. Before becoming editor of the Wisconsin Agriculturist in 2003, she worked at Johnson Hill Press in Fort Atkinson as a writer and editor of farm business publications and at the Janesville Gazette in Janesville as farm editor and feature writer. Later, she signed on as a public relations associate at Bader Rutter in Brookfield, and served as managing editor and farm editor at The Reporter, a daily newspaper in Fond du Lac.

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