Farmer – you cannot afford substandard tyres!

Good tyres optimize the costs of running a farm
Which tyre parameters are important when it comes to agricultural machinery? Which level of tyre pressure should you ensure for better efficiency when working in the field? Which parameters should you control to extend the lifespan of tyres? The better the quality and the more durable the tyre, the greater its efficiency, soil compaction levels and fuel efficiency of the machine, and above all, the more money and valuable time saved during the harvesting season. It is worth remembering that excessive tread wear negatively affects driving economy – it results in increased slippage and unnecessary fuel consumption.

– The purchase of appropriate tyres for agricultural machinery is a very important element of responsible and conscious farming. As a link between the ground and the machine, and its engine power, tyres and their quality play a key role in ensuring the efficiency of work. Modern tractors or combines distinguish themselves with high power, and therefore they need the best quality tyres, adapted to difficult conditions. Such tyres have to work with heavy equipment, under heavy loads and in varied terrain. Proper and well taken care of tyres allow you to save up to 12% of fuel[1] – points out Piotr Sarnecki, Director General of Polish Tyre Industry Association (PTIA).

Running a farm is not easy – many factors, such as drought or declining retail price of several agricultural products have a significant impact on the profitability of the business. However, the awareness of farmers about the benefits of purchasing good tyres for their machines is growing. Agricultural tyres, as well as those for passenger cars, are divided into three classes: economy, medium and premium. Premium tyres are manufactured using the best technologies available to the manufacturer and provide the best quality and performance long-term. The key here is both the shape of the tread and the rubber compound used in their production – thanks to them they have better durability and higher driving economy.

When choosing tyres for agricultural machinery, it is worth considering:

The tyre industry knows how fast agriculture is becoming more and more modern – good quality tyres meet farmers’ needs, optimize the costs of farming and protect crops. The technology used in premium agricultural tyres ensures the best possible machine performance and the lowest possible level of soil degradation. We are observing an increase in the sales of good brand agricultural tyres – which means that more are more farmers become aware of the importance of tyres for the optimization of their operating costs – adds Piotr Sarnecki.

There are two basic types of agricultural tyres available on the market: radial-ply and diagonal-ply tyres, which differ mainly in their internal structure. Diagonal-ply tyres have a multi-layered structure of the carcass with the cord placed at an acute angle in relation to the direction of rotation of the tyre. In contrast, radial-ply tyre’s carcass’ cord is perpendicular to the direction of rotation of the tyre.

Most manufacturers of modern agricultural machinery decide to equip new tractors with radial-ply type, because these tyres are the most technologically advanced. They make it possible to reduce fuel consumption by 3-12% and the deformation of the radial tyres proceeds in a suitable and controlled manner – this contributes to a lower degree of soil consolidation, on which the machine moves.

The leading manufacturers of agricultural tyres produce two categories of radial-ply tyres – IF and VF. They allow the use of a lower operating pressure, by 20% and 40% respectively, compared to classic radial tyres. This parameter has a significant effect on fuel burning when driving on unpaved terrain – in the case of agricultural tyres lower pressure translates into increased adhesion and also helps reduce the risk of skidding. The correct level of pressure for these tyres is based on the current wheel load. That makes it a lot easier for the user to avoid troublesome need to change the pressure after working in the field and before going on a paved road, after which the tractor moves at a much higher speed.

What can one do to optimize costs and extend the lifespan of agricultural tyres?

  1. Manufacturers of tyres describe the parameters of the product in its specification, which take into account many factors – such as the type of work, tractor weight and speed. Sticking to the manufacturer's instructions will extend the lifespan of the tyre.
  2. Regular control of tyre pressure should be part of the responsible farming – it should be monitored with a pressure gauge at least once a month. It is crucial to keep it on the correct level – the fundamental mistake made by the operators is making the tyre pressure too high. The optimal pressure value is stated on the tyre.
  3. Monitor looseness the looseness of linkages and worn steering knuckle bearing. Their occurrence may be manifested by the incorrect inclination of the wheels relative to the ground, and, as a consequence, faster wear of the tyres, especially the front ones. Steering knuckle is responsible for keeping the vehicle’s wheel in the position suitable for by the suspension and steering system. Contrary to what one might expect, we have an impact on the durability of switch bearings – they wear out much faster when the suspension geometry is incorrectly set. Correctly set suspension geometry has a significant impact on the tyre's running rate, and its regular inspection promotes longer tyre life.
  4. The slippage and fuel consumption increase with a high wear of the pad assemblies of the rear tyre of the tractor. Studies have shown that after exceeding 50% of the wear of the pad assemblies, greatest decreases in traction forces appear[2], and the further exploitation of the tyre is associated with lowering the driving economy – both on the soft ground and on the paved surface.
  5. The method of storing tyres directly affects the safety of the farmer's work and tyre lifespan, although it is the use that has the biggest impact on tyre wear. The tyre should not be directly exposed to direct weathering influences, high temperatures and their rapid changes, UV radiation in high intensity, and contact with chemicals or electrical discharges.

[1] Red. R.C. Fluck, „Energy in Agriculture”, tom 6. “Energy in Farm Production”, Elsevier, Amsterdam-London-New York-Tokyo 1992, s. 174

[2] “Assessment of tyre tread protrusion wear in the aspect of farm tractors traction capacity”, Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences

Source: Polish Tyre Industry Association