Spring is undoubtedly a unique season here in North Carolina. Flowers will soon begin to bloom, bees will begin their endless work, new buds and foliage will appear on trees and shrubs. Spring is also the time of year many of our agricultural crops will begin their journey through growing season.
In the state of North Carolina, agriculture is undoubtedly a big deal. The industry contributes over $70 billion and provides a vast amount of jobs to the state’s economy. The premium quality products that are derived from agriculture in this state are exported to feed and clothe the world as well as used locally for our own consumption. Without agriculture, North Carolina would not be the diverse and thriving state that we know today. To provide for this demand for local and international economies, farmers have to use a vast array of large equipment in order to farm relatively large amounts of acreage in a timely manner.
This equipment is how farmers earn their living, and moving equipment via the highway is a part of their job description. As we transition from the short days of winter into the longer and warmer days of spring, you will more than likely notice an increase in farm equipment on the highway. It’s the time of year for farmers to prepare fields and plant the crops for the upcoming growing season. These crops are essential for farmers to ensure they can provide for their families as well as maintaining a reliable, safe, and economical source of food and other agriculture products for everyone. In the event you encounter farm equipment while on the road, remember to always remain cautious and to never get too close to the equipment. Generally, farm equipment travels very short distances and will only spend a few moments on the highway. Many times, if the farmer sees they’re causing delays, they will pull over and allow cars to pass as soon as they find a safe location to do so. However, even when farmers move over, much of their equipment can exceed a width of 15 feet, meaning there will only be a narrow amount of highway to allow cars to pass even when the farmer has moved his equipment over. Some modern agriculture equipment is factory equipped with safety lights such as turn signals, however there are still many older pieces of equipment that do not have such lighting. Often farmers will also use hand signals to let others know when they are turning or if it is okay to pass. With that being said, you should never assume what their hand signals mean, which is why you should always use caution when sharing the road with farm equipment.
As we near the beginning of another growing season, farmers will be continuously working to get their crops in the fields that will eventually be harvested to provide us with many products that we take for granted on a daily basis. Remember that if you encounter a farmer and their equipment while on the highway, it is best to always play it safe and remain patient in order to ensure everyone returns home safely.
Hunter Rhodes is an Agricultural Extension Agent specializing in row crops. Contact Hunter by calling the Sampson County Extension Center at (910) 592-7161 or by emailing [email protected]