Survey highlights urgent need for national ag machinery transport rules

Grain Central, July 12, 2017

A survey of graingrowers has highlighted the urgent need for a single national set of rules governing the transport of agricultural machinery.

GrainGrowers Ltd, which conducted the survey, said the current varying rules from State to State are complex, out of touch, time consuming and expensive.

“The current state-based red tape for heavy agricultural vehicles needs to be removed and a practical national notice introduced this year to enable farmers to get on with the business of farming,” GrainGrowers said in releasing the survey results today.

It said the survey of more than 800 respondents nationally showed that individual state notices and rules governing the movement of heavy farm machinery on public roads are out of touch with the size of modern equipment.

The survey investigated the dimensions and configurations of the heavy vehicle fleet operating in the grains industry.

Graingrowers said the results provide hard evidence of the true size of modern grain machines which are now routinely being used on farms.

The grower organisation said it has taken the survey results to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), to support its work in developing a single national notice which contains limits and allowances that are consistent across the country and practical from the farmers’ perspective.

A single national Class Notice has been welcomed by GrainGrowers’ National Policy Group (NPG) members who hope it can be fast tracked in time for the winter crop harvest.

The NPG said it has also welcomed the NHVR’s approach to aim for limits which would cover 80 per cent of vehicles and acknowledged that the draft NHVR limits under the proposed Notice were much closer than the existing state notice limits.

“However, further tweaking is definitely required,” GrainGrowers CEO David McKeon said.

“Grower feedback from around the country and our recent survey show some limits need to be increased to accommodate the current fleet. These include single vehicle length and height limits as well as rear overhang allowances.

“The fact that such a large number of farmers across the country have engaged with this issue – at a busy time when new crops were being sown – shows how aware they are of the glaring discrepancies between the state regulations and the dimensions of the vehicles they operate and how important it is that this issue be resolved in the national notice.

“What’s especially important is that state road agencies and local councils (who own many of the roads) work with the NHVR to support these changes and get the national notice in place as soon as possible.”

The survey results point to the need for change to the proposed:

Single vehicle length limit of 15 metres: Only 30 per cent of single vehicles are under 15 metres in length, with an average length of 20 metres and a significant percentage between 20 and 30 metres long. More than 54 per cent of augers or conveyors are more than 15 metres, but under 19 metres, in length but a 25 m limit is needed to cover 80 per cent of all vehicles in use.

Vehicle height limit of 4.6 metres: only 37 per cent of vehicles are 4.6 metres high or less while only 60 per cent of vehicles would fit within a 5 metre height limit. Sixty per cent of respondents said there were no overhanging powerlines on their standard routes which would restrict the safe height of vehicles they use.

Auger rear overhang of 9 metres – nearly a quarter of the current fleet has an overhang of more than 9 metres. The range for those vehicles above nine metres is 9.4 – 17 metres.

Surveyed growers also made general comments on the heavy vehicle laws saying there was:

  • An urgent need for a simple, easy to understand single national system
  • Lack of, or insufficient time for, notification of changes
  • Conflicting information from different agencies about the rules which apply
  • Concerns about pilot and escort requirements
  • Need for the road infrastructure to be better maintained and for trees to be trimmed
  • Need for education and awareness programs for other road users about agricultural vehicles.

Key results included:

  • 68.72% of respondents say night travel is important for farming operations (85.47% in South Australia)
  • Only 29.91% of single vehicles are under 15 metres in length, with an average length of 20m, although most tractors and headers would comply with a 15 m limit. Victoria had the highest average single vehicle length of 22m.
  • 53.91% of augers or conveyors are under 19 metres in length, with 19m the national average but a 25m limit is needed to cover 80%. Over 70% of augers in West Australia and South Australia were under 19m compared to only 35.71% in Queensland.
  • 47.58% of combinations are under 25 metres, with 26m the national average, but a 31m limit is needed to cover 80% of combinations. 65.38% of Queensland combinations are under 25m compared to only 38.20% in Victoria.
  • 60.58% of tractors are single axle with dual tyres and 18.26% have tracks.
  • 72.77% of headers are single axle with single tyres and 22.32% have dual tyres.
  • 37.46% of vehicles are up to 4.6m tall, with a total of 60.14% up to 5.0m tall. 11.69% are taller than 5.5m (19.30% in South Australia).
  • 70.07% said vehicle rear overhang was less than 4.5m, 59.42% said auger rear overhang was less than 9.0 m, and 84.52% said harvester rear overhang was less than 6.0 m.

“The NHVR is expected to release a discussion paper, with the proposed dimension and mass limits, this month,” said Mr McKeon.

“We are hopeful the NHVR will take note of growers’ concerns expressed in our survey results and make practical amendments to the limits.”

Complete survey results are available on GrainGrowers’ website





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