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Permit available to harvest hay in Iowa DOT Highway roadsides

April 15, 2014

AMES, Iowa – April 15, 2014 – Iowa’s roadsides provide many benefits, including the harvesting of hay. Each year, landowners and others can apply for a permit to harvest hay from highway roadsides. Safety of motorist and of those working on roadsides is a key reason the Iowa Department of Transportation requires permits to access or perform any type of work in the state highway roadsides.

Working in a roadside comes with its own set of dangers, including your visibility to passing motorists and traffic control. When you submit your application, Iowa DOT staff will go over the safety hazards you might come across and how to handle them. They will also help you determine what traffic control might be needed.

In addition to the Iowa DOT’s sign off, some permits may also require the signature of the landowner, if you do not own the land next to the roadside where you want to harvest.

Although landowners and others can obtain permits now, mowing or haying roadsides is not allowed until July 15 per Iowa Code. This allows for the protection of bird habitat during the nesting season. The Iowa DOT has set two periods for harvesting grass within the state-maintained highway roadsides. Only one cutting per year is allowed so grasses can recover before winter. 

  • July 15-Sept. 1: For cool-season grasses and forage legumes (e.g., smooth brome, tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, alfalfa, bird’s-foot trefoil)
  • July 15-Aug. 15: For areas containing warm-season native grasses (e.g., switchgrass, big bluestem, little bluestem, Indian grass, sideoats grama, Canada wildrye)

Iowa DOT’s Harvesting and Mowing Permit Application – is available from any of the DOT employees listed below or online at The application covers three types of operations: (1) mowing only; (2) harvesting hay; or (3) harvesting plant material other than hay.

To process your application, contact the Iowa DOT employee serving your area.  






District 1 (central)


Shannon Anderson



District 2

New Hampton

Linda Kofoot


District 3


Sioux City

MaryBeth Banta



District 4



Vicki Brown


District 5



Brenda Hadley


District 6

(east central)

Cedar Rapids

Jerome Steward






Iowa DOT media contact:  Bob Younie at 515-239-1589 or

Iowa highway in the evening