GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Bigger may not always be better, but when it comes to the tractors and implements used at the highest level of production agriculture, it appears bigger still rules the day.

"John Deere recently introduced its 8530 tractor, which it bills as the most powerful row-crop tractor in the world at 275 PTO hp," says Kevin Lutz, technical manager for Michelin North American Agricultural Tires. "The largest row-crop tractors from Case IH and AGCO are in the same neighborhood. And Kinze Manufacturing and other seeding equipment companies offer planters in working widths of 90 feet and more.

"As equipment continues to increase in size, this trend is shifting the traditional paradigm regarding agricultural tires," Lutz said. "Most farmers have typically selected tractor tire sizes that accommodate 30-inch row spacings, like the 18.4 R38 a few years ago or the 480/80 R46 that is very common today. But are these tires going to deliver the peak performance, productivity and efficiency you really need?

"The reality is, if you're not using that tractor for post-emergence applications, such as cultivation or pulling a sprayer, there's no reason why you can't move up to a larger-volume tire that's going to deliver a longer, larger footprint and better overall field performance," he said.

Replacement tire options

The most immediate and cost-effective option for moving primary tillage tractors up to larger-volume tires is to replace current worn or undersized tires with Michelin(R) XM(TM)108 radials, Lutz said. The XM108 tire delivers a 20-percent larger footprint compared with standard-profile tires without having to change rims. The design of the tire provides a broad, flat tread and oversized footprint that helps increase traction, reduce wheel slip, and improve production efficiency and fuel economy.

The XM108 radial also features a large air chamber that allows it to carry heavier loads at the same or lower inflation pressures compared to standard-profile radials. For instance, while the inflation pressure for a Michelin Agribib(R) 18.4 R38 radial might be 14 psi, the air pressure in an XM108 600/65 R38 tire, under the same load, would be 10 psi. Lower inflation pressures mean less soil compaction and higher yields.

Specify larger tires for new high-horsepower tractors
If in the market for a new high-horsepower front-wheel assist or 4WD tractor, talk to a local equipment dealer to learn about the tire-fitment options the manufacturer offers for the specific model you're considering. The Michelin MachXBib(R) radial delivers the ultimate in large-volume tire performance in these large workhorses.

"The MachXBib tire is designed to carry heavy loads at low pressures with a huge footprint that delivers greater performance while also protecting a farmer's valuable soil resource from harmful soil compaction," Lutz explains.

The MachXBib tire features a broad, flat crown and deep lugs that reduce slip rate, resulting in greater traction and improved fuel and time savings. The tire also has a large air chamber and a super strong radial casing that contributes to its ability to carry heavy loads at low pressures, while also providing exceptional operator comfort both in the field and on the road.

"Agriculture has changed tremendously over the past 10 to 15 years. Technologies like the Roundup Ready(R) crop system, for instance, have greatly reduced the practice of cultivation and changed the way many farmers grow their crops," Lutz says. "So, if your farming has changed, the way you think about ag tires should probably change as well ... anything you can do to run larger tires on your tractors is going to pay dividends from the beginning of the growing season to the end."

Dedicated to the improvement of sustainable mobility, Michelin designs, manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks, motorcycles and the space shuttle. The company also publishes travel guides, hotel and restaurant guides, maps and road atlases. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America employs 22,300 and operates 19 major manufacturing plants in 17 locations.

SOURCE: Michelin news release.