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Mini tractor facilitates key lessons

Mini tractor facilitates key lessons

The Mini Roll Over Training Tractor allows operators to learn roll-over safety in a controlled environment

Staff Writer

A project aimed at tractor safety made its debut at the University of Manitoba’s (U of M’s) Glenlea Research Station on July 16.

The Mini Roll Over Training Tractor (Mini ROTT) is a smaller version of a tractor, about the size of a ride-on lawnmower. The machine is designed to help facilitators teach operators about roll-over safety.

“Farmers are experts when it comes to operating for machinery. Our goal is not to tell farmers how to operate the farm machinery they know. But we also know that not all farmers have had the opportunity to receive safety training on machinery. So, we'd like to augment their existing expertise with opportunities … to learn more about safety,” said Thea Green. She is the program manager for Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP).

The idea for the Mini ROTT stems from when U of M’s school of agriculture ran a farm safety course in 2017. The U of M held a full day of hands-on farm safety, including four stations based on tractor safety, for the ag diploma students, said Green. She was an instructor at the university during this time and involved in the safety day.

The one area of safety that proved difficult to teach was how to prevent and manage tractor roll overs, said Green.

“We did okay that day. But, after the fact, we knew that we needed to come together and be able to teach this topic in a safe way,” she told

Following the safety day, Green and three colleagues set out to find a solution to the challenge. Morag Marjerison, a safety professional with KAP, Pam Bailey, a farmer in Manitoba, and Michele Rogalsky, the director of U of M’s school of agriculture, also participated.

“We came up with a wish list in 2017 of what we wanted. Over the years, Red River College took on this project and created a remote-control tractor that included all of the items on our wish list,” said Green.

The tractor is electric, rechargeable, and made to scale. It also has a camera mounted where the operator would sit so whoever is controlling the tractor can experience what driving the machine would look like.

“Anyone can get the video feed if they download the app. So, you can watch it on your phone, laptop or tablet. But we could also slide the phone into the virtual reality headset so that people could only see what you would see in the tractor operator’s chair,” said Green.

The Mini ROTT features outriggers, like training wheels, on the side and rear that prevents it from completely rolling over.

“About 20 per cent of the roll overs are rear roll overs and about 80 per cent of the roll overs on tractors are sideway overs, tilts or tips,” said Green.

Plans for the Mini ROTT include using it in demonstrations, bringing it to trade shows and using it in training situations for skilled operators, she explained.

“We're envisioning this tractor would roll across a course … where we would know points it would tip and points it wouldn't tip in advance. We could use this to teach which slopes are too steep to go up with a tractor. How could you approach the slope in the safest way? What about if you had weight in the front-end loader? How would that change how you would approach the slope? What if you had a rear towed implement?” said Green.

Another goal of the Mini ROTT is creating a natural conversation about farm safety with farmers and people in the industry, she said.

This project is funded by KAP, the U of M faculty Agricultural and Food Sciences Endowment Fund, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada through Red River College’s Technology Access Centre for Aerospace and Manufacturing, and Vehicle Technology and Energy Centre Innovation Enhancement.

Photo credit: University of Manitoba photo

Updated July 22


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