The Ukraine Report: Farmers use remote control tractors to clear mines

Farmers in Ukraine completed spring planting this week with more than 30 million acres sown, but challenges are still present for the industry.

This week, we learn more about producers using remote control tractors to clear mines out of fields.

Latifundist Media has partnered with us to provide boots-on-the-ground coverage:

As a result of Russia’s aggression, nearly 30 percent of Ukraine’s territory is mined. For comparison, this equals the area of Missouri.

These are hundreds of thousands of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines, aircraft bombs, mortar shells and unexploded ordnance left in the fields.

“We estimate that 5 million Ukrainians live in areas of potential contamination. And 15 million people are affected by mine contamination.”

Official data show that nearly 500 people were injured due to mining, and 146 were killed. These statistics are for the de-occupied territories. It is yet unknown what the situation is in the areas still controlled by the invaders.

With a large area of mined land, emergency service specialists are unable to clear everything. In the village of Lebyazhove in Kharkiv region, farmers refused to wait and started clearing their fields on their own. Using special equipment, the farmers start a remote-controlled tractor, and it activates the mines as it moves on the fields, roads and forest belts. In this way, they want not only to facilitate the planting season but also to protect local residents from possible tragedies.

“When we were kids, we all had remote control cars. It’s the same principle here, only the machine is big. The tractor works alone in the field, and life safety is above all because shrapnel flies far.”

The process is coordinated with sappers who come to demine in places where they can visually spot unexploded ordnance.

“The sappers do not have enough time. And there is no time to wait. We live on this land and work in these fields. That is why we try to do the job on our own. Sure, we need specialized equipment for demining, but we can do the rest ourselves.”

This practice is becoming increasingly common. As farmers put it: “Yes, unfortunately, the war continues, but we have to keep working.”