tractor in cotton field

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Many West Texas cotton farmers are either harvesting their crops or stripping their fields in preparation for the next planting cycle.

No matter what the farmers are working on, Texas State Technical College student Mario Hernandez said safety on tractors and with the attachments should be a top priority. 

Hernandez, of Aspermont, is studying Diesel Equipment Technology at TSTC while working for United Ag & Turf in Rotan.

“Before you head into the field, make sure to check all of your filters, the air pressure in your tires and the attachments to the tractor,” Hernandez said. “Another thing a lot of people forget to check is the diesel exhaust fluid. That should be checked prior to getting in the field.”

Hernandez said another tractor feature that should be inspected before beginning to work on cotton fields are the lights.

“I know a lot of farmers who like to work their fields well into the night,” he said. “You have to have the lights to be able to see where you have already harvested the field.”

There were more than 130 fatal work injuries to agricultural workers in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Men accounted for more than 120 of those deaths. More than 30 of the people who died on the job were self-employed.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting more cotton production in the southwest region of the United States. The report stated that approximately 4.6 million bales will be produced this year, about 1.1 million bales above last season’s crop. One bale is equal to 480 pounds, according to the USDA.

Diesel Equipment Technology is available at TSTC’s Fort Bend County, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater and Waco campuses. Depending on campus location, the program offers Associate of Applied Science degrees with different specializations, as well as several certificates of completion.

The program is part of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee program. If a participating graduate does not find a job in their field within six months of graduating, TSTC will refund their tuition in full.

Registration for the spring semester is underway. For more information, visit

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