Integrated Crop Management

New weight restrictions for agricultural vehicles

A recently passed bill in the Iowa legislature (House File 651 [1]) affects weight limits of all agricultural vehicles on embargoed bridges and culverts. In addition, the bill specifies future axle and vehicle weight limits for manure tank wagons, grain carts, and fence-line feeders.

Weight restrictions for agricultural implements on bridges and culverts. Effective July 1, 1999, all agricultural vehicles (e.g., tractors, combines, implements, chemical applicators) are required to comply with weight embargoes imposed by local authorities or the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) on a bridge or culvert within their jurisdiction (in the past, weight limits did not apply to many ag vehicles). Restrictions on weight loads for bridges and culverts are in effect when signs are posted. The authority imposing the weight restriction (local or IDOT) must issue a special, short-term (8-week) permit if an agricultural hardship exists. Implements loaded on hauling units are exempted from weight restrictions if being transported for repair.

Weight restrictions for grain carts, tank wagons, and feed wagons on public roadways. Agricultural implements applying organic plant food materials (e.g., manure), grain carts with a nonsteerable single or tandem axle, and equipment mixing and dispensing feed to feedlot (beef or dairy) cattle will be required to comply with legal axle weight restrictions when operated on public roadways in the future. (Note: Common axle weight limits in Iowa are 20,000 pounds/single axle and 34,000 pounds/tandem axle.) Weight of any one axle, group of axles, or gross vehicle weight may exceed maximum weight restrictions by 20 percent and still be in compliance, however, for agricultural vehicles.

Grain carts, tank wagons, and feeder wagons manufactured on or after July 1, 2001, are to comply with weight requirements. All other grain carts, tank wagons, and feeder wagons (i.e., manufactured before July 1, 2001) are to be in compliance by July 1, 2005, to travel public roadways.

House File 651 reaffirms an existing requirement that implements applying inorganic or commercial plant food materials, agricultural chemicals, or limestone are currently required to comply with legal axle-weight restrictions when operated on public roadways.

Agricultural all-terrain (ATV), slow-moving vehicle (SMV) speed, floatation tires, and rubber tracks. If highway travel is incidental to agricultural use, an ATV may travel on the highway. Travel is to be between sunrise and sunset, by a licensed driver, at a speed of 35 miles/hour or less, and a Day-Glo bicycle safety flag must be used.

An SMV emblem is to be displayed on all agricultural vehicles at speeds of 35 mph or less.

Because information on road damage by vehicles using large floatation tires and rubber tracks is not currently well documented, the IDOT in consultation with interested farm groups, equipment suppliers, county groups, and Iowa State University will study the use of tracks, floatation tires, and the fine/legal schedules for tank wagons, grain carts, and feeder wagons. A report with findings and recommendations is to be submitted to the legislature next January (2000).

This article originally appeared on page 138 of the IC-482(18) -- July 12, 1999 issue.

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