POSEYVILLE, Ind. — While cruising along the open road this month, especially in rural areas, don’t be surprised if you suddenly find yourself driving behind a tractor. Farmers are hard at work planting this year’s crops and often need to use the roads to get to all their rows.

Mark Seib, a Poseyville farmer and United Soybean Board director, reminds motorists to be on the lookout when sharing the road this spring. Nearly 60 percent of highway fatalities occur on rural roads, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

“We’re trying to get from point A to point B as quickly and as safely as possible without tying up traffic,” Seib said. “Be especially careful when approaching a tractor at night because we’re slower moving than highway traffic.” 

Farming happens to be quite a strong economic driver in Indiana. In soybeans alone, Hoosier farmers harvested 5.1 million acres in 2013, amounting to 264 million bushels at a value of $3.3 billion, making it the fourth-largest soybean-producing state in the country.

These miracle beans have many uses. Poultry and livestock farmers use almost all of the meal from Indiana soybeans in feed for their animals.

Most soybean oil gets used by the food industry as frying oil or in baked goods, salad dressings, margarine and more.

Soybean oil can be used to make biodiesel, a renewable alternative to petroleum diesel that helps drive rural economies.

It also is used in a hardwood plywood product sold at Home Depot, a line of Sherwin-Williams paint, a wood stain from Rust-Oleum and many more everyday products.

Farmers maintain a consistent supply of food, feed, fuel and fiber every year, so return the favor by staying alert on the roads to ensure farmers’ safety and the safety of others.

Planting season is a crucial time when farmers need to start out on the right foot. Risk comes with many of the decisions they make, such as choosing seed varieties, planting date, row spacing and herbicide use.

“Our window of opportunity is very narrow during planting season because of changing weather patterns, so that’s why you see farmers out working late at night,” Seib said. “We’re trying to make the next product that consumers will be using, like the foam in your car seat.” 

On top of that, American farmers are increasingly doing more with less, managing to get more out of every acre they plant.

U.S. soybean yields have increased 53 percent between 1980 and 2012, according to Field to Market data in the U.S. Soybean Export Council U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol.