The Iowa Department of Transportation will allow the harvesting of hay along state highway right of ways this summer. DOT agronomist Joy Williams says a permit is required and there are specific guidelines on where the work is allowed.
“Medians, shoulder areas, we don’t allow any haying the interstate,” Williams explains. “The permit is just kind of of a system to both inform the applicants as well as to protect our won right of way. If there is any damage, applicants are responsible for any damage.”
The harvesting of hay along the state’s highways for livestock feed has been allowed for several years but has become more popular as hay continues to be in short supply. Williams says the rules allow farmers to use one state resource while protecting another.
“The mowing law was designed primarily to preserve habitat for wildlife during the nesting season. And this was in particular response to the low pheasant population,” Williams explains. “Pheasants nest on the ground and mowing can disturb the nests, or kill the hen and crush the eggs.”
Williams says those who do the mowing must wear approved safety apparel furnished by the state. She says work performed between the road and the ditch bottom requires that someone is on hand to direct traffic.
There are two harvesting seasons; the first is July 15th through September first. Contact the DOT for more information.