The ABCs of Agricultural Tire Maintenance

Your equipment’s performance in the field can greatly impact productivity, and thus, your bottom line. Tires are a very important part of this equation, and with regular inspection, and — if necessary — minor adjustments, you can see great improvements in durability and performance in the field. Now that spring planting is done, it’s time to inspect your tires and make necessary adjustments to ensure the rest of your season goes off without a hitch.

Simply follow the ABCs.

Analyze your tire performance

The first step to making sure your tires are adjusted correctly is to conduct regular inspections. Signs of premature wear can often help pinpoint a problem that can be easily remedied.

“Signs of uneven wear are often related to incorrect inflation pressures,” explains Scott Sloan, agricultural product manager for Titan and Goodyear Farm Tires. “An overinflated tire tends to bulge at the center, which can wear out the tread in the middle of the tire, whereas an underinflated tire creates more deflection on the sidewall, which can wear out the shoulder of the tire and make the sidewall more susceptible to puncture damage.”

Another common problem faced by growers is the damage that today’s corn hybrids and soybean varieties can inflict on tires.

“Signs of pecking and chipping to tractor and implement tires often indicate that stubble is posing a problem,” says Sloan. “However, this can be remedied by making some minor adjustments to the way you operate the equipment and/or by outfitting your tractor with one of the many available aftermarket products that help combat stubble.”

In addition to inspecting for damage to the tires, it’s important to take a look at your overall performance in the field during the spring planting season. Key areas of performance linked to tires include traction and ride quality.

“Having adequate traction can improve fuel efficiency and productivity while ride quality keeps the operator comfortable and productive throughout the season,” says Sloan. “Without the proper inflation pressures and weight distribution, growers can experience road lope, power hop and tire slippage in the field — all of which can be remedied through a few minor adjustments.”

 

Ballast, inflate and operate

Once you’ve pinpointed the issues you’re having, it’s time to make adjustments to rectify those issues. To improve ride quality, Sloan recommends first looking at ballast and weight distribution.

“One of the major causes of power hop is insufficient overall tractor weight for the horsepower. As a general rule, follow the recommendations of your tractor manufacturer for weight-to-horsepower ratio. This usually falls somewhere between 100 to 140 pounds per horsepower,” says Sloan. “Weight distribution is also very important to both ride quality and traction. Generally, front-wheel-drive tractors without suspension should have about 30 to 35 percent of the overall weight on the front axle, while four-wheel-drive tractors should have about 51 to 55 percent of overall weight on the front axle. It’s best to consult with the tractor manufacturer to determine the optimum weights for the type of implement you’re running, and add cast ballast to achieve the proper distribution and ratios.”

Inflation pressure also plays a key role — not only in ride quality and performance, but in tire longevity.

“Maintaining proper inflation pressures based on load is the best way to make sure your tires last longer and give you the best performance in the field,” says Sloan. “Once you’ve weighted your tractor for optimum ride quality and traction, it’s very easy to adjust inflation pressures based on the load/inflation tables provided by the Tire and Rim Association.”

Lastly, Sloan recommends making some minor adjustments to the way you operate your equipment in order avoid stubble.

“Limiting stubble damage can be as simple as setting your tractor tires to run between the rows rather than over them,” says Sloan. “In cases when that’s not possible — for instance if you’re running wide tires, such as 900s, in narrow row crops — it may be worth exploring the use of aftermarket attachments such as Stalk Stompers.”

 

Call your local dealer

Sloan stresses that in any case, leveraging the expertise of your local tire dealer can make all the difference in the world.

“A lot of times, performance simply comes down to having the right tire for the job,” says Sloan. “New tire technologies are introduced all the time to help combat the challenges faced by today’s growers. So, in many cases, there may be a new tire available that can help you address your specific field challenges, and your dealer can help you select exactly what you need to rectify any issues you may be having.”

Some of the new tire technologies include:

  • Stubble resistant tires
  • Increased Flexion (IF) and Very High Flexion (VF) technology
  • Low sidewall (LSW) design

 

“No matter what challenges you’re facing with your tires, more often than not, it can easily be rectified through minor adjustments or by consulting with your local dealer to outfit your equipment with the right tires for the job.”