Predicted record maize crops could bring higher risk of mud on roads, warns NFU Mutual

Predicted record maize crop yields could bring higher risks of mud being left on roads during harvest NFU Mutual has warned.
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The rural insurer is concerned that extra maize planted this year, with expected heavy yields, could raise the risk of mud being deposited on roads during harvest.

Hannah Binns, NFU Mutual Rural Affairs Specialist, commented: “Many dairy farmers have put more fields down to maize this year or grown the crop for the first time to counteract the high costs of bought-in feed.

“Plenty of rain over the summer has led to very heavy crops in many parts of the country, and we are concerned that harvesting these could lead to problems including mud left on roads by tractors and trailers.

Higher maize yields could bring increased risk of mud left on roads warns insurer. (Pic: stock image)Higher maize yields could bring increased risk of mud left on roads warns insurer. (Pic: stock image)
Higher maize yields could bring increased risk of mud left on roads warns insurer. (Pic: stock image)

“This is a particular problem with crops harvested in autumn when heavy rainfall is likely.

“We’re advising farmers harvesting maize to prepare for poor conditions by putting in place plans to use measures such as field wheel washers, warning signs and road sweepers to reduce the risk of a road traffic accident which could lead to deaths or injuries – plus the risk of prosecution.”

Other crops harvested in autumn – including sugar beet and potatoes can also lead to mud being let on roads.

Even tractors moving between fields during ploughing and other cultivation operations can also lead to large mud clots being left on roads which can prove hazardous to road users, and particularly motorcyclists.

The legal position is that farmers must take steps to prevent mud being left on the roads by their vehicles.

If mud is inadvertently left, farmers are responsible for cleaning it up as soon as possible and putting in place warning signs while there is a hazard.

NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Mud on Roads Checklist:

- Do everything possible to prevent mud being deposited on the road - including cleaning mud from vehicles in the field, as far as practicable, before they are taken onto the road

- Buy or be prepared to hire-in equipment such as wheel washers and self-propelled road sweepers to clean up accidentally deposited mud – avoid manual clean-ups to keep people off the road as much as possible

- Keep to your own private farm roads and minor public roads whenever possible

- Keep to low speeds - especially when travelling short distances - to help retain mud on the vehicle

- Keep a written record (e.g. a simple note in a farm diary) of your decisions on whether or not to deploy signs and/or to clean the road

- If there is a danger of mud being accidentally deposited on roads, use 'Slippery Road' signs with a 'Mud on Road' sub plate to alert other road users

- Make sure signs are positioned to give maximum visibility to other road users, especially at sharp corners and blind summits

- Clean the road as often as necessary during the working day - and always at the end of the working day

- Ensure that staff and equipment are available for clean-up work (including high visibility clothing for operatives working on the highway) and is suitable for the soil and weather conditions present

- Where a farm contractor is used, ensure that prior agreement is reached on who is responsible for mud on road issues - including wheel washing in fields, use of signage and clean-up

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