Six habits to hitch your farm equipment safely every time
Apr 03, 2014
Many of the 2.2 million farms in the United States are stirring to life, preparing fields for spring planting and transporting livestock. Grinnell Mutual recommends taking a few extra moments to inspect your farm equipment and properly hitch it to your farm vehicles.
1. Inspect the equipment.
"Rust seems to be the biggest issue because the equipment often sits outside," said Grinnell Mutual Farm Claims Manager Vicky Hartgers. "Inspect the areas where you see rust because the hookup may break in half or pull apart."
2. Put it in park.
Put your tractor in park before you hook up equipment or make adjustments. This secures the tractor on both hills and flat ground. In wet or muddy conditions, it prevents drivers from accidentally putting the tractor in gear if they slip or catch clothes on a knob or lever.
3. Use the right hitch pin.
Don’t use just any bolt found on your farm or in a drawer to hitch your equipment. Hitch pins are designed to fit the hitch-pin hole without excessive movement. In addition, they are designed for tractor power ratings and loads.
4. Hitch to the drawbar only.
The tractor drawbar is the only safe place to connect a load. Do not hitch higher than the drawbar as this may affect tractor stability. Improperly hitching higher than the drawbar may cause rear overturn where the tractor flips backwards. By hitching to the drawbar, you help ensure all pulling forces stay below the tractor’s center of gravity.
The National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program recommends that the drawbar be placed midpoint between the rear tires to maximize pulling power. Hillside operations may require a drawbar adjustment to one side to balance the pulling forces.
5. Use safety clips and safety chains.
"The hitch pin has a safety clip on the bottom for a reason," said Hartgers. "Equipment comes unhooked. Sometimes pins come out when they’re going down the roadway. How heavy you are, the incline, the speed you’re going—it makes a big difference."
Many manufacturers require safety chains be used to keep a load tethered.
"In case the hitch pin breaks or comes out, the safety chain will keep the load attached," said Hartgers. "Farmers have a tendency not to use those, but they’re there for a reason."
6. Unhitch the equipment.
Inspecting equipment and proper hitching may help prevent an accident on your farm this spring. When you complete the farm job, unhitch the farm equipment, said Hartgers.
"A big, long auger is susceptible to high winds. If it’s hooked to the tractor during a windstorm, it could flip them both."
To learn more about farm safety and other safety related information visit Preventing Losses on grinnellmutual.com.