College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

Sharing Vegetable Production Equipment during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has recognized food and agriculture as a critical infrastructure industry for national security during the COVID-19 pandemic. As essential agricultural workers, farmers should employ precautions when working with shared agricultural machinery and equipment. Below are some recommendations:

  • Prepare and possess a Notice of Essential Food and Agricultural Employee Work Authorization Form issued and signed by Steve Troxler, N.C. Commissioner of Agriculture.
  • Follow all CDC guidelines and stay home, if you do not feel well.
  • Practice social distancing with other workers if practical and possible.
    • The virus spreads mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet), through respiratory droplets produced by coughing or sneezing of an infected person.
  • Wear gloves to work. Always wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after removing gloves, and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with gloves or unwashed hands.
  • Before using the shared equipment, clean them with water first if applicable (add liquid soap if available), then sanitize the equipment with one of the EPA approved disinfectants for SARS-CoV-2. Follow the label of the disinfectant. Pay special attention to surfaces people will likely have touched when loading/unloading or operating the equipment, such as handles and steel wheels. An example is given below for a plastic mulch layer showing the “hot spots”. If you do not have an EPA approved disinfectant, use one of the following options.
    • Use a disinfectant with at least 70% alcohol to sanitize all hot spots.
    • Use a household bleach solution: mix 5 tablespoons (one third cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water. After sterilization, rinse the equipment with clean water to avoid erosion by the bleach.

For more information

Contact Sanjun Gu, Ph.D., horticulture specialist, at or Randy Fulk, horticulture associate, at