Truckers see warnings posted on bridges about excessive load heights.
But nothing warns the farmer transporting tall equipment under dangerous overhead power lines – except their own navigational foresight.
That’s why it’s so important to plan ahead, say Manitoba Hydro officials, who say more farmers are planning routes to safely transport farm equipment. There was a jump in the number of farmers applying for agricultural move permits in 2009, a hydro official speaking at a farm safety seminar said here last week.
More farmers applying for the permit is likely the result of the publicized change to the permit, which extends the number of days it’s valid to 45 from the previous 10, said Linda Carter, public safety and education co-ordinator with Manitoba Hydro.
“It’s become more user friendly,” she told the one-day seminar sponsored by Keystone Agricultural Producers and Manitoba Agriculture Food and Rural Initiatives.
More permits issued mean more farmers are protected, because the intent is to ensure farmers select the safest route, Carter said.
Farmers are required to apply for a Manitoba Hydro permit to move farm equipment on provincial roadways if the height of their equipment or load exceeds 15 feet, nine inches (4.8 metres). That’s because at that height the equipment is dangerously close to overhead power lines.
Incidents of farmers contacting overhead lines has actually dropped in the last five years, but Hydro officials observe a new trend – farm equipment is taller than ever, which has resulted in different types of contact.
“Grain augers used to be the piece of equipment that touched our lines most often,” Carter said. “Now our statistics are showing that cultivators and air seeders are touching lines more often.”
Carter said in an interview that while it’s encouraging to see more farmers applying for the permit, Hydro wants to get the message out widely to farmers that they should be applying for these permits.
“We know that there’s farmers who don’t know that they’re required to do this,” she said.
A permit is applied for at any district office, by providing a description of farm equipment being moved and the chosen route and dates of moving equipment. Hydro reviews the route before issuing the permit to ensure the equipment will adequately clear all lines in its path.