While the profession of farming only involves 2% of the population, the other 98% are still affected by it. Whether we’re driving on roadways or visiting farms, we all play a part in keeping harvest and the world safe for everyone.  In the spirit of DJ Khaled, I’ve included three Major Keys that play into keeping harvest safe and successful for farmers and consumers.

MAJOR KEY 1:  Be mindful of the SMV symbol on the back of equipment!


Tractors, combines, and other large equipment often has this orange triangle fixed on it.  This orange triangle with a border of reflective tape is called a Slow Moving Vehicle, or SMV symbol.  Any vehicle or equipment with this emblem means that it can travel at speeds of 25 miles per hour or less. SMV symbols are mostly found on large mechanical equipment, but they can be found on horse-drawn vehicles and equipment as well.

What Does This Mean for Me?

Roadways are meant to be shared by cars, trucks, and tractors alike.  As a driver, we can contribute to sharing this safely by not using a phone or device and keeping our eyes on the road.  By doing both of these, we can see slow-moving vehicles quicker and change adjust our speed accordingly.  Also, be aware of the blinkers and hazard lights on large equipment.  While driving normally, a tractor will have its hazards blinking the entire time.  However, the lights will change when it turns.  For example, if it turns right, the left-side lights will stop blinking and the right-side lights will continue to blink.  Above all, following defensive driving techniques will keep everyone safe.

objects-0055_largeMAJOR KEY 2: Don’t play in grain bins and on equipment!


Farms house a lot of large stuff—grain bins, tractors, harvesting equipment, and so on. A lot of times, this equipment can look like a harmless space to climb and hang out.  It’s not.

Grain bins hold thousands of bushels of grain.  From the outside, it could look like a swimming hole.  However, grain behaves a lot like quicksand—it will someone under and suffocate them in a matter of minutes.   Even though large equipment looks stationary and safe, it can easily be turned on and become life-threatening in a manner of seconds.

What Does This Mean for Me?

It’s best to stay clear of these structures and equipment.  They may seem harmless, but in the end, they’re tools made for harvesting and storing grain safely—not for play.

objects-0055_largeMAJOR KEY 3: Use common sense!

Above all, use common sense when interacting in the world around harvest time.  Symbols exist to highlight important features about tools.  Tools exist to help get jobs done in an efficient manner.  If we take the time to evaluate situations and then make decisions, harvest—and the rest of the world—will be a much safer place.

Molly Novotney
The University of Illinois

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