Ergonomics

For many years quick-hitch attachments have been available from tractor manufacturers to enable hitching of three-point-hitch mounted equipment right from the tractor seat. After-market manufacturers have developed automatic hitching systems for drawbar-attached machines that make up the majority of machines pulled behind tractors. However, these systems still require manual hookup of the PTO driveline and hydraulic couplers and are not widely found on farms.

Engineering work is being conducted to investigate and improve ergonomic conditions in agricultural tasks requiring hand labor, although there is still a great deal of work to be done. Examples of work involving crops include intensive movement and handling of plants at nurseries; picking, carrying, and loading of tree fruits; hand cultivating of field crops; and harvest and handling of fresh-market berries and vegetables. Examples involving livestock include feeding of calves, handling of cattle, and improved lighting in dairy barns. In certain cases, specialized tools or practices have been developed to improve ergonomic conditions, although acceptance of these tools and practices will depend on such factors as cost, compatibility with existing systems, and effect on productivity (11-15).

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