Teagasc outlines tractor safety advice during flooding

Teagasc has issued advice and tips on how to avoid damage to tractors and stay safe while working with machinery during flooding.

The biggest risk when driving a tractor on a flooded road or roadway, according to Teagasc, is turning over in a ditch or dyke that is not visible under the water.

To combat this, farmers are urged to drive slowly and carefully, and to keep to spots where you are familiar with the underlying surface. Using markers of some kind – such as weighted floats – to indicate hazardous spots of the road, is also encouraged.

When carrying bales on a front loader on uncertain terrain, carry it low, and ensure there is plenty of counterweight on the back of the tractor.

Farmers should avoid driving when tired, and also in the darkness, where lights reflecting on the water can make it even more difficult to navigate a flood. Pay particularly close attention to bystanders in poor visibility.

Ensure you have a charged mobile phone with you in case you are stranded, and do not walk back through high water levels.

If carrying people to or from a house on a tractor, ensure that they are, in so far as is possible, in the cab with the door securely closed.

Also. be particularly careful when people who are unfamiliar with machinery are in the vicinity.

Avoid rushing, and do not take risks. Be particularly careful with bystanders when moving bulk sandbags or bales.

Machinery wear and tear

Teagasc is also providing advice on machinery wear and tear during the inclement period.

Continuous use of tractors in deep floods where the water is over the axle seals could cause problems as these seals may not necessarily keep the water out.

Water could damage seals and bearings and even mix with transmission oil in some situations.

Also, in very deep water, it’s possible to damage electronic systems in more modern tractors. The main computer processor should be protected from water, but, as Teagasc points out, these systems are complex, with sensors and wiring located in many parts of the tractor.

These are prone to water damage in extreme flood conditions.

Preventing future damage

For flood events in the future, it may be possible to take steps to prevent damage by recording flood levels now.

Mark the heights where the flood reaches, or take pictures on a camera phone and store them carefully. This may assist in future planning.

Where the flooding is caused by running water, there may be an opportunity to redirect that water-flow to protect the farmyard; animal housing; and feed storage areas.

For general high water levels, it may be possible to construct a protective bank of soils if you know where the water is coming from. Either way, a record of flood levels is a “good start”, according to Teagasc.