While cruising along the open road this month, especially in rural areas, don't be surprised if you suddenly find yourself driving behind a tractor. Farmers are hard at work planting this year's crops and often need to use the roads to get to all their rows.
Poseyville farmer and United Soybean Board Director Mark Seib reminds motorists to be on the lookout when sharing the road this spring. Nearly 60% of highway fatalities occur on rural roads, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
"We're trying to get from point A to point B as quickly and as safely as possible without tying up traffic," says Seib. "Be especially careful when approaching a tractor at night because we're slower moving than highway traffic."
Farming is a strong economic driver in Indiana. In soybeans alone, Indiana farmers harvested 5.1 million acres in 2013, amounting to 264 million bushels at a value of $3.3 billion, making it the fourth-largest soybean-producing state in the country.
Farmers maintain a consistent supply of food, feed, fuel and fiber every year, so return the favor by staying alert on the roads to ensure farmers' safety and the safety of others.
Planting season is a crucial time when farmers need to start out on the right foot. Risk comes with many of the decisions they make, such as choosing seed varieties, planting date, row spacing and herbicide use.
"Our window of opportunity is very narrow during planting season because of changing weather patterns, so that's why you see farmers out working late at night," says Seib. "We're trying to make the next product that consumers will be using, like the foam in your car seat."
On top of that, American farmers are increasingly doing more with less, managing to get more out of every acre they plant. U.S. soybean yields have increased 53% between 1980 and 2012, according to Field to Market data in the U.S. Soybean Export Council U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol.
Post this on your Facebook page, print a couple of copies off to give to people, and share with those who might not realize that it is our busy time!