Safely Keeping The Farm Clean Cut

Tractor and rotary brush mower.

Richard Purdin, OSU Extension, Adams County ANR/CD Educator

Summer is here and many of the spring farm chores are complete, for many farmers this means cleaning up overgrown pastures, buffer strips, grassy waterways, and roadside ditches. Mowing road banks or field edges is a good practice to help control invasive weeds, increase visibility, or just make the property look nice. Operating a brush hog can be a very dangerous chore due to many risk factors -- steep topography, operating along roadways, propelled objects, and various moving equipment parts. Before hopping in the tractor, here are some steps to help keep you safe while making your property a showplace!

Check and Maintain Equipment

  • Follow an equipment lubrication schedule and read the operator’s manual thoroughly.
  • Sharpen blades.
  • Install chain or belt guards to reduce the hazards of thrown objects.
  • Inspect for properly working lights and clean visible SMV sign.
  • Ensure all shields and guards are in place.


Wear Proper PPE

Wearing the proper clothing can help you avoid entanglement, injury to the eyes, hearing loss, and other physical injuries. Here is some suggested clothing:

  • Close-fitting clothing
  • Heavy boots
  • Safety glasses
  • Heavy textured gloves
  • Hearing protection


Mowing on Slopes

Brush hogging usually involves working over rough or uneven topography and in many areas of Ohio this involves steep slopes. Some ways to avoid equipment rollover include:

  • First read the tractor operator manual, familiarizing yourself with the weight of the tractor and the points of adjustment.
  • Add weight to the front and rear end of the tractor to improve balance and control.
  • Adjust rear and front tires to sit farther out, increasing stability on slopes.
  • Wear a seat belt when the rollover protective structure (ROPS) is in place.
  • Avoid extreme slopes of 35% or greater.


Be Aware of your Environment

  • First walk unfamiliar fields or areas to help avoid accidents or damage to equipment while operating.
  • Pick up tree limbs, rocks, or garbage prior to mowing. If you need to dismount the tractor to remove forage material, disengage equipment and wait for all moving parts to halt.
  • Be aware of utility lines, poles, and boxes when mowing along roadways to help avoid costly utility damage and potential injury.


Additional resources are available at and

Richard Purdin, ANR/CD Educator Adams County, can be reached at 937-544 2339 or This column is provided by the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Team.