Drivers on some of our state highways might find farmers, not state transportation department crew workers, cutting roadside weeds. They’re farming, making hay. They’re helping stretch limited state transportation department dollars by cutting weeds by the roadsides at a time when the departament is cutting back on the number of weed-cuttings it does this summer.
For several years the department has let farmers turn roadside weeds into hay. They can’t just take their equipment out to any old stretch of road at any old time. State Maintenance Engineer Beth Wright says they need department permission. There’s no fee. They can’t work on the big highways—the interstates and high-volume state highways–because of concerns about slow-moving equipment.
Travelers in some parts of the state are more likely to see roadside farming than others–areas that are hit by drought, where farmers run out of hay from their own fields, for example. Wright says roadside haying is more likely to be done in the flatter or rolling hills areas than it is likely in the Ozarks-areas where the roadsides are steeper.