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Program available to improve safety on older tractors

Thanks to a program instituted by the National Institute for Occupuational Safety and Health (NIOSH), area farmers can make their older tractors safer at no cost to them.

The NIOSH program is called CROPS, an acronym that stands for Cost-Effective Rollover Protection Structures. The program provides farmers the opportunity to have a rollover protection system installed on older model tractors. The program is co-sponsored locally by the Northwest Alabama Resource Conservation and Development Council.

Assembly and installation of the rollover bars will be done by students in the Colbert County High School agriculture program under the supervision of instructor Jeff McKinney. All rollover protection systems include installation of seatbelts on each tractor.

Plans and designs for the CROPS come from NIOSH along with the University of Kentucky, which took on the project to assist farmers in that state. A study showed that many young farmers were using older equipment and tractors due to the high cost of replacing them.

Older models are not up to safety standards and this is a cost-effective way to provide rollover protection,” McKinney said. “Without one, the only option the operator has is to jump off in the event of a rollover. The system acts as a roll cage and when the operator is strapped in with a seatbelt, he won't slam into the ground and the machine won't slam into him.”

The installation will be done at Colbert County High School. The program is free and the only expense a farmer will have is to deliver the tractor to the school. Some of the tractor models that will be eligible for the CROPS program include Ford 8N, Ford 3000, Ford 4000 and Massey Ferguson 135 and 150 models, McKinney said. Due to proprietary concerns, John Deere tractors are not eligible for the program.

Colbert County High School was the only Alabama school chosen to participate in the program. Funding is limited so farmers are encouraged to reach out to McKinney early to schedule their tractors for the CROPS installation. All farmers are eligible regardless of their county of residence.
The students have completed their book work training and McKinney said he's waiting on the steel to be delivered to start construction of the first rollover protection system.

All plans are provided by NIOSH engineers. They will send a safety professor from Clemson University to do an inspection of our process and inspect the system and do a sonogram of the rollover protection system before it goes to the farmer,” McKinney said.

To sign up for the CROPS program or to receive more information on the rollover protection systems, contact McKinney through the school website at www.colbert.k12.al.us or call the school at 256-446-8214.

We hope to see this as an ongoing project and not limited to one year. We hope this is something our students can use for job experience in the future,” McKinney said.

Lauranne James, Executive Director of Northwest Alabama RC&D Council, said participating in the CROPS program is a win-win for RC&D.

The certification and experience it gives these students for jobs once they graduate is wonderful and we're also interested in these small farmers and keeping them safe,” James said.

James said Colbert County ag students were selected for the CROPS program in part due to their success with another project, the Alabama RC&D Eco-Cool Storage Unit Retrofit Project, which saw box trailers converted into cool storage units.

Truck farmers can transport crops under refrigeration now and keep them at a usable temperature,” James said. “The generator-operated trailers are available for use by farmers and can be used in the event of natural disasters when there is no power available to refrigerate food.”






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