Checkoff Investments for Road Safety

We’ve all been there. You’re driving down the road, heading to the farm market or taking a load of soybeans to the elevator, and you hit a pothole and throw off your alignment or kick up some gravel and chip your windshield.

Farmers’ soybeans are working to help solve those problems.


Water, as well as de-icers, salt and chemicals, can get into concrete pores and subsequently cause cracks, chips, gouges and potholes. Once the network of concrete pores is compromised, the strength of the concrete crumbles.

Seeking to address cracking, a new product featuring U.S. soy has hit the pavement, beginning in Indiana.

PoreShield is a soy-based concrete durability enhancer that lengthens the life span of roads and bridges by protecting the pores in concrete from damage caused by salt, ice and water. The product, developed from a soy checkoff research collaboration, reduces maintenance costs for U.S. infrastructure — and because the formula uses soy, it supports demand for U.S. soybeans, too.

The soy checkoff partnered with the Indiana Soybean Alliance on research and market development for soy-based solutions in infrastructure. Now, select Indiana counties have the opportunity to use the new soy-based durability enhancer on their bridges — made possible through farmers’ soy checkoff investment.

Last year, Indiana Public Works applied PoreShield to 330,000 square feet on 77 bridge decks within the state, with goals to expand use in the future. As more locations adopt PoreShield as a solution, the demand for soybeans grows. On average, 200 bushels of soybeans are used for every two-lane mile of concrete highway joint treated with PoreShield.

A recent study from AAA shows that over the past five years, around 16 million drivers across the U.S. have suffered damage from a pothole. The checkoff program is working to decrease that number and make your roadways safer.

Rolling Down the Road with Goodyear®

Just as concrete is made better with PoreShield, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company is increasing performance and sustainability in their tires with U.S. soy.

The checkoff has regularly collaborated with Goodyear over the last decade to learn how to include soybean oil into rubber technology and has made exciting discoveries that lead to including U.S. soy in their tires.

The company’s initial research discovered that soybean oil could not only improve tire flexibility across temperatures but also provide enhanced grip on road surfaces, making it an ideal choice for Goodyear’s all-weather tire line. Goodyear released their Assurance® WeatherReady® consumer tire line in 2017, the Eagle® Enforcer All Weather™ in 2018 and the Eagle Exhilarate™ in 2019, and announced the Goodyear Assurance ComfortDrive™ last year.

With added grip on road surfaces and increased flexibility, the checkoff and Goodyear’s collaboration has not only increased sustainability and performance, but also added options for road safety.

Dust Suppressant

There may be millions of miles of paved roads in the U.S., but there are also 1.3 million miles of unpaved roads. And U.S. soy has taken on that opportunity.

After a farmer sells a load of soybeans, one-half of one percent of the sale is paid into the soy checkoff. You can find the results of that investment on the drive home as soybeans are going to work on paved roads, bridges and even gravel roads.

Dust created by vehicles traveling on these roads equates to about one ton of lost gravel per vehicle per year. Maintenance is a major budget item. In North Dakota, about 66% of local roadway budgets are spent on the state’s 60,000 miles of gravel roads. A single piece of equipment used to blade these roads costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A new soy-based dust suppressant is now available, offering a sustainable choice for communities to improve air quality for people, pets, livestock and crops. All thanks to U.S. soybeans.

Not only does this mean less dust, equating to better economic value in gravel preservation, but it also means opportunity for safer roadways and potentially fewer car accidents because of better visibility.

Road safety starts with what’s under your tires, and the soy checkoff is committed to research and investments to maintain road standards and safety while increasing demand for this renewable and sustainable crop. This program is supported by the soy checkoff and multiple organizations in an effort to make rural roads safer for all drivers.

Have a Chat About Safety: Tips to Talk to Your Neighbor About How to Share the Roadways Safely

Sometimes taking your farm equipment on the road is unavoidable, and many farmers may encounter drivers not familiar with sharing the road with farm equipment. While it may be easy to get flustered, it’s important to remain calm and remember that we’re all just trying to get somewhere as safely as we can.

The key to confidence for you and your neighbors on the roadway can start with a conversation. Pop by to chat or give them a phone call to let them know you’ll be moving equipment on the road, and share some tips to make you both feel safe.

  1. Let them know your busy times of year

While spring and fall might seem like second nature to farmers, neighbors and other members of the community might not recognize those times as planting and harvest.

“We always try to explain what we’re doing and break it down so it’s easy for our non-farming neighbors to understand, especially if we’re stopping traffic so we can get through an intersection or something like that,” he says. says Ralph Lott, II, New York soybean farmer and soy checkoff farmer-leader.

“Here in the Finger Lakes region, we see a lot of visitors during the fall when the leaves start to change and people start to visit the local wineries,” says Lott.

In 2018, the Finger Lakes region saw 5.56 million visitors, staying an average 3.4 days and 2.4 nights according to the Ithaca Times.

Lott says the increased travel and number of motorists on the road don’t go unnoticed, but after decades of farming in the region under his belt, he knows how to handle it.

“We’ve been farming here for 40 years, so we’ve grown with the traffic. Most of our local neighbors know what we’re doing, but tourists sometimes don’t understand.”

  1. Share some passing techniques

It’s not shocking that farm equipment goes slower than the average passenger vehicle, causing potential frustration to motorists stuck behind the equipment.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that agriculture, forestry and fishing as an occupational group have the third highest rate of work-related roadway crashes.

“We don’t worry about oncoming traffic so much as the people behind us that are tired of following and try to pass us just about the time we want to pull over to make a wide turn into a narrow farm driveway,” Lott says.

A study by New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health identified 203 agriculture-related vehicle crashes involving 381 vehicles and 482 people. Of those incidents, 91.6% caused property damage, while 36.0% caused injury. The fatality rate for roadway vehicle crashes was nearly five times as great for agriculture versus non-agriculture crashes.

“To the people that are following us, I always tell them to look at the driver in the tractor cab. A lot of times, we’ll point if we need to make a left turn or give a signal for what we’re about to do,” Lott adds.

Find Me Driving, a road education resource, encourages drivers to think “SAM” when they encounter a slow moving vehicle. The site shares safety tips you can use to chat with your fellow drivers:

  • Find the sign. The orange triangular Slow Moving Vehicle sign warns drivers of a vehicle traveling under 25 mph. The sign is exclusively for SMV vehicles and acts as a warning for motorists to to slow down. 
  • Slow down. Rear-end collisions are the number one cause of farm vehicle crashes. When a driver sees a SMV, they should slow down immediately and increase following distance. If a driver is driving 55 mph and comes upon a SMV moving at 25 mph, it only takes 8 seconds to close a gap the length of a football field.
  • Assess your surroundings. SMV operators often pull equipment behind them, which could impact their visibility. It’s important for motorists to remain vigilant of farm driveways, field roads and other places a SMV driver might be ready to turn into.
  • Move with caution. SMVs are typically large and can be difficult to see around. Keep to the basics: Pass only if you can clearly see ahead of both you and the SMV. Check to see if the SMV’s turn signal is on or if the vehicle slows down before passing. Don’t pass in a designated “No Passing Zone” or within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad crossing or tunnel, or if there are curves or hills ahead that may block your view.

“I encourage people to pause and think before passing. Maybe you’ll gain an extra 30 seconds getting to wherever you’re going, but it’s just not worth the risk,” Lott says. “We’ve all got a job to do out here, and getting someplace a few minutes earlier isn’t worth the risk for any of us.”

  1. Explain hand signals

While hand signals might be thought of as a thing of the past, there are farmers who find that they can be helpful to tell your fellow motorists what you’re about to do next — as long as they understand.

“We still use hand signals when we’re driving tractors,” Lott says. “I’ll stick my left arm out to let the traffic know I’m going to make a left turn because if I’m about to cross the road, I really need the people behind me to know.”

A straight-armed gesture to the left indicates a left turn. A right-angled gesture pointing  up indicates a right turn, while pointing down indicates driver is stopping. These are a few easy things to explain and demonstrate to your neighbors, giving them a heads-up on the road.

Taking farm equipment on the road all boils down to confidence for everyone involved — confidence behind the wheel and confidence sharing these tips with your neighbors.

“You need to feel confident when you’re driving down the road and talking to your neighbors or visitors,” says Lott. “Everyone just needs to be thoughtful, and we’ll all get to where we’re going.”

This program is supported by the soy checkoff and multiple organizations in an effort to make rural roads safer for all drivers.

Insurance on the Farm: Tips for Decreasing Costs with Safe Driving

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Tractors, planters and combines might not have much in common with sedans, coupes and convertibles. But in the glove box, there’s proof of one thing in common: insurance.

“You have to protect your farm at all costs, and insurance is key to help you do that,” says Daniel Berglund, chairman of the Texas Soybean Board and Texas soybean farmer.

Covering your farm and assets like equipment can be a costly line item in your budget, but it’s a necessity on the farm. The Maryland Rural Road Study reported that farm vehicle crashes in the U.S. carried a cost of more than $4.3 billion in 2017, with losses ranging from $10,000 to over $30,000 per incident. Fortunately, there are ways to help maximize your insurance investment and even decrease your cost.

“Your equipment is going to fall under your property coverage, and it falls into basically two parts,” says Kara Argetsinger, a property and liability insurance specialist with Agri-Services Agency. “Liability can protect you in case of accident or injury to others, and then you have your property coverage that covers the actual cash value of insured equipment for the farm in case of damage.”

On the Road

Moving equipment within one property is one thing, but moving your equipment between fields or farms, and sharing roads with other drivers, is a whole other story.

“This spring, we were moving our 11-row soybean planter. It doesn’t fold up like some bigger equipment, so we have a pilot car lead due to some tight turns and guardrails right on the side of the road,” says Berglund. “When I’m the pilot, I try to block traffic where I need to so whoever is driving the tractor can stay alert to what they need to focus on instead of traffic. It’s a whole different ballgame.”

Argetsinger says your farm liability coverage really comes into play when you hit the road with your equipment, and auto liability applies when you are driving your vehicles.

“Auto liability covers you in case of bodily injury or property damage to others in a motor vehicle accident. Your liability is going to cover damage that was caused to another party, and the property portion of your coverage is going to cover the damage to repair or replace your insured equipment,” she says.

Insurance Options with Safe Driving

While insurance is a necessary investment, Argetsinger says there are a few ways farmers can help lower their costs.

One of the options is checking if credits are available for your vehicles.

“Vehicles that you don’t use every day or maybe use every other day may qualify for credits because you don’t have the same exposure as the pickup truck that you drive every day,” she says.

Another option is to keep motor vehicle records on all your farm vehicle drivers. MVRs show that your drivers are capable and competent, and understand the risk in driving vehicles and equipment on the road, says Argetsinger.

“Your drivers are representing you, and you want to make sure that you have people who are capable of driving and understand the risk associated with driving your vehicles,” she says. “It’s just an incredibly helpful thing to do for yourself and your insurance.”

“Insurance is one of those things you need to have but hope you never have to use,” says Berglund. “It can protect you and your farm.”

This program is supported by the soy checkoff and multiple Qualified State Soybean Boards in an effort to make rural roads safer for all drivers.

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