Tire Technology Vs. Track for Compaction Fighting

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

Since tracks were introduced to agriculture, their makers have commonly claimed reduced compaction and enhanced traction compared to wheeled equipment. In recent years, tire technology has come a long way in leveling the playing field in both regards. 

"When we look back at agriculture post World War II and even Korea, many tractors were on steel tracks for the traction they offered," said Michael Vandel, marketing segment manager, Michelin North America Agricultural Tires. "Wheeled equipment was introduced to try and match the traction offered by those tracked machines with new and bigger tires."

The smoother rides and ability to drive wheeled machines on roads, combined with the improved traction, pushed track equipment to the side of the field. In recent years, track tractors have made a comeback, with improved suspension and rubber cleats replacing steel and reducing the need for transport between fields.

PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHELIN NORTH AMERICA AGRICULTURAL TIRESTire companies have increased the size, width and load carrying capacity of agricultural tires. This was done to increase the tire’s footprint and spread out the load while allowing them to maintain traction. Although traction with track vehicles no longer offered a significant advantage over wheeled equipment, tracks' impact on soil compaction did. Spreading out the weight of the tractor and its load over a longer footprint became a major competitive feature as researchers identified yield loss due to compaction.

"Tracks have made a comeback in some markets," noted Vandel. "Growers in those markets have moved from bias tires straight to tracks."

In response to grower concerns, tire companies introduced competitive technology. Size, width and load carrying capacity have all increased significantly to increase the footprint and spread out the load while maintaining traction.

"The longer the footprint, the less the compaction and the more traction you'll have," said Vandel.

However, he pointed out that footprint alone can be deceiving."While the result may be only six psi across the total footprint, the pressure actually increases at the drive wheels and bogey wheels."

Vandel compared that with properly designed new radial tires like those with Michelin Ultraflex technologies. How well the casing deflects and spreads the footprint determines how much pressure is on the footprint. He noted that the industry has reached the point with some tires where one psi in the tire equals one psi on the ground, consistent across the footprint. He points to Michelin AxioBibs as having that 1:1 ratio.

The AxioBib represented a new tire category in 2006 with the increased flexion (IF) design that allowed the sidewalls to flex more than other radials, thereby increasing the footprint. Firestone introduced its first IF tires (AD2 technology) in 2010. Michelin introduced very high flexion (VF) SprayBib VF tires that same year. They allowed for a decrease of air pressure of up to 40 percent compared to a standard tire of the same size.

Meanwhile, Goodyear expanded its Optitrac radial farm tire line with the R+ advanced flexion design. The European-originated R+ design allows field speed dependant load increases that can be more than offered by IF and VF designs. And so the race for superior and competitive tire technology will continue as load, speed, compaction and cost concerns all continue to increase.

"Tires have come a long way in the past 60, 20 and 10 years," said Vandel. "The SprayBib VF met with overwhelming success in the North American sprayer market, but we are still working on new and updated technology for spreaders. Different needs require different capabilities. We can't look at a solution we have and say that's good enough. We have to look at an application use and the demands it faces and develop a tire that fits."

Prev 1 2 Next All

Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...

Related Articles

Comments (0) Leave a comment 

e-Mail (required)


characters left


Made of high quality 304 stainless steel, the Quickveyor is one of the strongest trailers on the market. It’s belt ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form