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Stay Safe During Harvest

During harvest season, many farmers reap the benefits of advancements in agricultural technology. With the help of GPS auto-steer devices, farmers are able to decrease driver error and maximize productivity. 

GPS with auto-guidance provides farmers with real-time location data about a field, which can be used for crop planning, map making, navigation assistance and machinery guidance. During harvest, this technology allows drivers to have their hands off the steering wheel as the combine maneuvers itself through the field. Because of this technology farmers can easily maintain accuracy, even during low-light conditions, which enhances productivity.

Despite these advances, however, safety risks still remain. Because equipment with auto-guidance systems requires less focus on steering, some drivers may not be as alert to navigation issues. Awareness is key when it comes to safety around electricity. It’s important to remember that farm machinery is particularly vulnerable to hitting power lines or poles because of its large size, height and extensions. To reduce the risk of accidents, be aware of the location of power lines and plan a route that allows you to operate the equipment safely.

Putting safety first requires alertness, focus and knowledge of potential hazards and safety steps. Varying pass-to-pass accuracy levels and potential issues, such as power poles not being correctly plotted in the system, reinforce the need for drivers to stay focused on the location of the farm equipment while in the field and to be ready to take action if necessary.

Regardless the technology used on the farm, keep the following electrical safety guidelines from San Patricio Electric Cooperative in mind:


  • Use a spotter when operating large machinery near power lines.


  • Keep equipment at least 10 feet from power lines—at all times, in all directions.


  • Look up and use care when moving any equipment such as extending augers or raising the bed of grain trucks around power lines or poles.


  • Inspect the height of farm equipment to determine clearance.


  • Always set extensions to the lowest setting when moving loads to prevent contact with overhead power lines. Grain augers should always be positioned horizontally before being moved.


  • Never attempt to move a power line out of the way or raise it for clearance.


  • If a power line is sagging or low, call SPEC at 361-364-2220 or 888-740-2220.


If your equipment does make contact with a power line, immediately call 911 and warn others to stay away. If you can drive away from the power source safely, travel at least 40 feet away before exiting the equipment. If you are unable to drive the machinery, do not exit the cab. Instead, wait for SPEC's crew to cut the power so you can exit safely. 

The only reason to exit equipment that is in contact with overhead lines is if the equipment is on fire, which is rare. Keep in mind that you cannot touch the ground and the equipment at the same time. You should jump as far away from the equipment as you can with your feet together.Then, still keeping your feet together, hop to safety as you leave the area.  


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