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Don't Let a Stuck Farm Implement Cause A Casualty

Don't Let a Stuck Farm Implement Cause A Casualty
People remember the stuck tractor incidents that don't turn out well.

No one likes to get stuck in the mud. It's a fact of farming – sometimes soils are softer than you think, or maybe the vehicle doesn't have the pulling power to get itself through a wet spot like you think it does. Once you're stuck, the goal is to get out safely. That requires thinking though the process.

One of the steps, says Fred Whitford, director of Purdue University Pesticide Programs, is to size up what you're trying to pull out with the size and weight of vehicle you're using to do the pulling. There are charts which Whitford can point to which can help you make those calculations.

What will it take to get this vehicle out? More than a 8 N or 9 N Ford or a similar tractor. Use a vehicle with enough power to do the job.

One problem people often overlook is that if a vehicle or tractor is stuck, there is more force pulling on it than if it was just sitting on a road or flat surface with wheels free to turn. The suction of the mud tends to want to keep the vehicle where it is, and must be overcome.

Unfortunately, there are instances where things go wrong. Those are often the ones people remember, because either someone had a close call or was injured or killed. The only saving grace is that perhaps recalling that incident prevents someone else from doing something that they shouldn't do.

Here's a case in point. More than 30 years ago, but as if it was yesterday in my memory, a truck driver hauling gravel to a farm got stuck before he was close enough to unload. The landowner didn't actually farm the land – he rented it out. All he had available was a small 8N Ford tractor with wide-front end. An 8N Ford is no match for a big tri-axle loaded with 20 tons of gravel.

The other mistake was hooking to the axles instead of the drawbar. The result was all too predictable. The truck didn't budge. Instead, the tractor axle rotated backwards, flipping the tractor and crushing the driver underneath, killing him.

Picking suitable vehicle to do the pulling is just one of the first steps in getting someone out of the mud safely.

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