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Husker Harvest Days daily demos teach how to navigate around power lines on the farm.

Kevin Schulz, Editor

August 24, 2022

2 Min Read
using a pickle technicians at HHD's show hot-line demonstrations to explain the importance of safety around power lines on th
IN A PICKLE: Properly trained and protected technicians show hot-line demonstrations to explain the importance of safety around power lines on the farm. This demonstration shows how an item, in this case a pickle, gets burned from the inside when in contact with electric wires. Kevin Schulz

Look out, look up, live.

This simple phrase offers strong advice wherever farmers and overhead power lines coexist.

“We can’t get it out enough about the contact of electrical lines being on the ground,” says Todd Bailey, safety director and purchasing manager for Southern Public Power District based in Grand Island, Neb. In spring, “we know that they’re getting out there with the disk or cultivator. We seem to always hit a wire or a pole, and that wire comes down.”

The trouble begins when a hot wire falls, as Bailey stresses the importance of staying in your vehicle or the cab of your farm equipment to wait for a utility company to show up.

Bailey says there are just too many unknowns in such a situation that can lead to heightened risk and potential death.

The risk is increased as more and larger agricultural equipment is on the roads and in the fields.

“Now we have agricultural sprayers, along with airplane spraying, coming in contact with the lines,” Bailey says.

Linemen from multiple electrical utilities across Nebraska will be on the south end of the Husker Harvest Days showgrounds to demonstrate the power that is in the lines overhead.

Show attendees continue to stop by the demonstration area year after year, proving people remain interested in learning about and seeing the impacts of electricity.

Having a demonstration available where you can actually see the power of electricity and some of the damage it will cause reinforces the need to respect electricity and call for help when needed.

Hot dog under fire

Utility linemen will have a hot-line trailer, to show the damage that 7,200 volts can do to multiple items, such as a hot dog.

Using proper safety equipment, a lineman will lay a hot dog, to simulate an appendage, on the power line. After hit with electricity, the hot dog appears normal on the outside. But when broken open, burn marks are seen on the inside.

Bailey says other demonstrations, which occur every 15 to 20 minutes depending on crowd flow, will show what happens when a variety of items come in contact with a power line.

“We show how every service that we have has a primary cut-out, which is called a fool’s door, and we show that exploding when it comes in contact with maybe a squirrel or a ’coon,” he says. “Basically, what you see on this trailer is a complete small version of a line feeding into a residential home.”

To see the exhibit, visit Lot 1155 during the show.

About the Author(s)

Kevin Schulz

Editor, The Farmer

Kevin Schulz joined The Farmer as editor in January of 2023, after spending two years as senior staff writer for Dakota Farmer and Nebraska Farmer magazines. Prior to joining these two magazines, he spent six years in a similar capacity with National Hog Farmer. Prior to joining National Hog Farmer, Schulz spent a long career as the editor of The Land magazine, an agricultural-rural life publication based in Mankato, Minn.

During his tenure at The Land, the publication grew from covering 55 Minnesota counties to encompassing the entire state, as well as 30 counties in northern Iowa. Covering all facets of Minnesota and Iowa agriculture, Schulz was able to stay close to his roots as a southern Minnesota farm boy raised on a corn, soybean and hog finishing farm.

One particular area where he stayed close to his roots is working with the FFA organization.

Covering the FFA programs stayed near and dear to his heart, and he has been recognized for such coverage over the years. He has received the Minnesota FFA Communicator of the Year award, was honored with the Minnesota Honorary FFA Degree in 2014 and inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Schulz attended South Dakota State University, majoring in agricultural journalism. He was also a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and now belongs to its alumni organization.

His family continues to live on a southern Minnesota farm near where he grew up. He and his wife, Carol, have raised two daughters: Kristi, a 2014 University of Minnesota graduate who is married to Eric Van Otterloo and teaches at Mankato (Minn.) East High School, and Haley, a 2018 graduate of University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She is married to John Peake and teaches in Hayward, Wis. 

When not covering the agriculture industry on behalf of The Farmer's readers, Schulz enjoys spending time traveling with family, making it a quest to reach all 50 states — 47 so far — and three countries. He also enjoys reading, music, photography, playing basketball, and enjoying nature and campfires with friends and family.

[email protected]

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