The transport and movement of heavy vehicles, machinery and loads on public roads is a highly regulated process. There are strict legal responsibilities for all parties involved in the transport logistics supply chain, including cotton growers.

From February 10, 2014, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) became the national transport regulator for all vehicles over 4.5 tonne Gross Vehicle Mass. The NHVR is a “one-stop shop” for all transport related business.
However, there is still some regulatory overlap during the transition period. State-based regulator websites remain an important source of information.

Cotton Australia works hard to maintain pro-active and direct engagement with the relevant road transport authorities. Our efforts aim to reduce the compliance burden on growers through the preparation of plain English best practice transport guidelines. Additionally, Cotton Australia advocates for reforms to out-dated regulations that have not kept pace with technological and other advances in the Australian cotton growing industry.

Cotton Australia has successfully negotiated – on behalf of the industry – various exemptions (concessions) that allow certain vehicle and trailer combination types and over-dimension loads or machinery to be operated and transported on roads and against specific sections or requirements to the road transport regulations.

Exemption notices are usually only provided for a defined temporary period and are associated with special ‘operating conditions’. These conditions may include travel restrictions and pilot vehicles requirements.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) provides a Load Restraint Guide (LRG). The LRG provides transport drivers, operators, and other participants in the transport chain of responsibility with basic safety principles which should be followed for the safe carriage of loads on road vehicles.

Who’s responsible?

Under the ‘chain of responsibility’ (COR) provisions within the regulations, each party involved in the loading, restraint and transport of cotton modules from farms to a cotton gin shares responsibility for transporting cotton modules in a safe and compliant manner. The individual responsibility is greater for those matters more directly under your control. Growers must ensure that all cotton modules are constructed in-line with industry best practices, including:

  • Harvested cotton adequately compacted into rectangle or round modules so as to avoid loose modules that may be inclined to break during loading, transport or unloading at gin site;
  • Modules not too heavy that they may create an over-weight load for trucks;
  • Modules properly covered in tarpaulins or wrapped;
  • Modules constructed and/or presented on even pads to facilitate loading, including correct alignment onto trailer decks for transport; and
  • Checking all modules are adequately restrained on trailers prior to leaving the farm (including monitoring the practices of your transport contractor).

In addition, Chain of Responsibility Laws were updated in October 2018, requiring all members of the chain to have greater regard for issues around fatigue management and vehicle maintenance, in addition to load restraint.

Additional information around CoR can be found here and here.

Resources for the movement of cotton picking equipment, and load restraints for cotton modules and ginned bales

Guides to the permit/notice requirements  for moving John Deere 7760  and 690 pickers in both Qld and NSW, and a range of certified load restraint guides prepared by Cotton Australia and third parties can be found at the links below.

In addition, there are specific notices that cover trailer extensions in Qld, width exemptions when transporting ginned bales, and a Notice for the walking of John Deere 7760 pickers in Qld.

When moving pickers by way of ‘walking’ or ‘floating’, please refer to the detailed guides for Qld and NSW. However, keep in mind that pickers must be conditionally registered, and all requirements including escort arrangements and signage must be complied with.

Conditional registration 

For many years farmers have been able to avail themselves of Conditional Registration for a wide range of agricultural vehicles, allowing them to be driven legally on roads. However, as the name implies the registration comes with a range of conditions and these vary greatly from vehicle type to vehicle type, and in some states locations.

Cotton farmers should take the time to review the conditions that apply to their vehicles. It is also worth noting that they need to carry with the vehicle at all times a copy of the conditions that apply to that vehicle in NSW the conditions will appear on the Certificate of Approved Operations (which is issued when the vehicle is Conditionally Register for the first time), and in Queensland the conditions will be shown on the Certificate of Registration.

For further information:

Click here for NSW information
Click here for Qld information and click here to download guidelines

Update for 2018-19 harvest season

Cotton Australia has worked with national and state regulatory authorities to provide information and clarity around the movement of heavy machinery (including pickers) and round modules for the 2018-19 cotton harvest.

Guidance is available on:

  • Walking and floating cotton pickers
  • Transportation of modules
  • Early consideration for the movement of heavy machinery (including pickers) over the Easter holidays

Click here to download the Cotton Australia 2019 Cotton Harvest Transport Update

Queensland growers: know your responsibilities around over-dimension trailers

Growers and contractors in Queensland intending to cart modules during the 2019 harvest are being encouraged to take steps now to have their extended trailers inspected and certified.

A number of years ago, Cotton Australia negotiated with the Queensland Government to gain permission to extend the length of trailers, when used in road train configuration, to allow each trailer to legally carry six full-sized round modules.

At the time, the Queensland Government provided an exemption to the requirement to have any structural modifications inspected and certified. However, with the advent of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, this exemption had a sunset clause inserted.

As of January, 2019, all modifications, including on existing trailers will have to be certified.

Growers are encouraged to take steps now to have their extended trailers inspected and certified.

Click here for information on approved vehicle examiners.

Read an information sheet.

Read more.

Easter Movement

There are no changes to the Easter movement rules this year. Details can be found here –

NSW Class 1 Agricultural Cotton Easter Vehicle Exemption (No. 1)

Easter Cotton Machinery Transport Exemptions