By Ethan Giebel
"Wisconsin farmers depend on a sound system of roads," said Jeff Lyon, deputy secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. With larger farm equipment traveling down Wisconsin roads, the Wisconsin DOT along with the DATCP brought together the Implements of Husbandry Study Group in 2011 to look at the impact large agricultural equipment has on public roads.
The IoH Study Group convened more than 20 stakeholder organizations representing farmers, equipment manufacturers, law enforcement, local officials and University of Wisconsin-Extension. Through the study, the group learned about IoH equipment and its usage, capacity of roads, highway safety, available research and the emerging needs of production agriculture.
Together, the study group came up with a set of recommendations that could help to lessen the impact IoH equipment has on public roadways and increase safety. Limits of the width, height and weight of agricultural equipment used on roads were the focus of the IoH study group's recommendations. The work of the IoH study group was shared with the public through a series of town hall meetings in late August and early September. Six town hall meetings were held in total throughout the state with the final meeting held in Belmont on Sept. 4.
"We have had great attendance and participation in all of the meetings," Lyon said at the final town hall meeting in Belmont. Approximately 120 people were at that meeting. More than half of those in the audience were farmers. Others on hand for the meeting included local officials, agribusiness representatives, custom operators, local citizens and implement dealers. The study group was represented at the town hall meeting by a panel of individuals from the DOT, Wisconsin Towns Association, DATCP, and Wisconsin State Patrol. Panelists shared information gathered by the study group as well as the recommendations they came up with.
A Minnesota study was completed over three years with 14 configurations of large farm equipment on a test track to determine the impact that agricultural equipment has on roads. The study was the first of its kind to look at the weight of implements. The IoH Study Group used the findings from the study to determine recommendations for IoH usage on roadways.