1. Always put in safety stops when working on the planter

Safety stops are critical to stop you from getting harmed. Safety stops are the last layer of protection if something goes wrong while you’re working on your equipment. You could get partially crushed, or even killed, without safety stops in place. With the stops engaged, turn the tractor off, take the key out of the ignition, and put it in your pocket for safety’s sake.

  1. Watch for low overhead powerlines

Planters vary greatly in size, with some of the largest being 48-row units that are 120 feet wide. These arms can easily reach powerlines and other low-hanging infrastructure cables that are often near the entry points of fields. Go slow, checking your arm height and clearance space as you go. These powerlines pose a serious risk for electrocution to you and damage to your equipment.

  1. Handle seed, fertilizer, and insecticides with personal protective equipment (PPE)

While crucial for a successful crop, the makeup of fertilizer, insecticides, and even some seed mixes are not safe for direct contact with your skin, mouth, eyes, or lungs. Even if you don’t intend to leave the cab, always have PPE with you in case you need it. Nobody expects you to know the exact chemical makeup of the products you’re using, but it’s important to read and follow the safety guidelines on the label. If you have questions regarding safety precautions of specific products, consult your agronomist.

After each use, PPE should be cleaned or thrown away. There is little point in wearing protective gear if your safety items are going to accumulate residue that you touch later.

  1. Safety First!

You’d think it’d be impossible to miss a machine this large on the road, but car vs. tractor accidents account for nearly 50 fatalities each year in the US. In some states, the frequency of these collisions is increasing, as farming operations grow in scale and tractors travel public roads to switch fields. Before getting on the road, double check that all your lights and signs are in proper order. Be a defensive driver, signal well ahead of time, and don’t assume cars can see you.