Motorists are being reminded to be on the lookout for equipment that’ll be moving through Iowa’s roadside ditches soon. Bob Younie, with the Iowa Department of Transportation, says land owners and others who’ve obtained a permit are allowed to harvest hay from state highway roadsides.
The annual program benefits both parties. “It gives farmers a chance to get some hay and it also means the DOT doesn’t have to put labor into doing the mowing and cutting down tall grass,” Younie said.
The mowing and haying of roadsides is not allowed to start until July 15. “The reason for that is to give ground nesting birds, pheasants and so on, a little bit of maturity so they can get out of the way of mowers and haying equipment,” Younie said. There’s no cost for farmers to obtain a permit from the DOT to harvest roadside hay.
The permit simply outlines where the mowing and haying is allowed and various safety requirements, such as the use of a fluorescent green vest. Those doing any haying are also asked to move big bales as soon as possible. “We don’t want those sitting on the right-of-way for any extended period of time,” Younie said. Only one cutting in a roadside area is allowed per year. The roadside harvesting and mowing takes place each year between July 15 and September 1.