According to the results of the General Agricultural Census of 2020, the number of farms in Poland was approx. 1,317,000, while the total area of all agricultural land is approx. 14,637,000. hectare. The data also includes the number of agricultural machines that are used by farms – approx. 1,444 thousand tractors, 513 thousand sprayers and 167 thousand combine harvesters. All these machines need decent tyres that will withstand rough terrain and adverse weather conditions, and will be as reliable as the vehicle itself. These requirements are met only by brand name manufacturers' tyres, which additionally ensure a longer service life.
Agriculture is one of the important branches of the Polish economy, generating 3 percent of GDP. However, this is not a business full of roses and has to deal with many variables, also depending on the weather. Difficult weather and terrain conditions as well as the pressure of efficiency pose a challenge to agricultural machinery - and without them there would be no modern and efficient agriculture. Tractors, harvesters, harrows, land cultivators, tillers, sprayers – these are just some of the specialized devices used in the field. In addition, there are supporting devices, such as loaders or transport devices. Their common denominator is work in demanding terrain. That's why they need tyres that can cope with these demands
– Agribusiness is a difficult profession where success depends, among others, on the weather or the economic situation. In addition, it requires significant financial outlays related to the maintenance and operation of machines, the role of which is to increase the efficiency of crops. However, the most advanced and modern equipment will not fulfill its function without appropriate tyres. Manufacturers of branded tyres know the needs of farmers, which is why they improve their tyre models from generation to generation – says Piotr Sarnecki, General Director of the Polish Tyre Industry Association (PTIA).
The field work season is already underway. This is a good time to check the condition of your tyres and make a decision about choosing a new one. We advise which tyres will be the best choice and what to remember in order not to overpay.
– The first and basic rule is to choose branded tyres of European, American or Japanese products. Companies from these markets are recognized leaders with decades of experience who guarantee the best parameters. The second element is the choice through the prism of age. We choose radial tyres for new and strong machines, and diagonal tyres for weaker or older machines – in accordance with the manufacturer's guidelines. Both types of tyres differ in the structure of the inner layers – which means that they have different properties – points out Sarnecki.
Diagonal or radial?
The main difference in the construction of radial and bias tyres is the internal structure resulting from the arrangement of the belt layers used for production. Diagonal models, simpler in design, mostly use inner tubes – which makes them more puncture resistant, but they do not have such good traction parameters. Their biggest advantage is the price – lower than in the case of radial models – which makes their purchase payback in a shorter period of time. Diagonal models are mainly used in older and weaker machines. Diagonal tyres are further developed in European factories, because they are still in demand - especially in forestry machines, and in agriculture for weaker tractors and smaller machines with appropriately adapted rims.
Radial tyres, in turn, are appreciated by users of newer and more powerful machines. Their basic advantages are a larger contact surface with the soil and the possibility of working with reduced pressure in the wheel – which increases the efficiency of driving in the field and causes less soil compaction during field work. The degree of soil compaction over which the machine moves is particularly important for operators of heavy agricultural machinery.
Safe operation with reduced pressure ensuring greater work efficiency and lower ground pressure is possible only with modern tyres adapted to such characteristics – i.e. with radial tyres adapted to work at low pressure. Switching to this type of tyre also allows you to reduce fuel consumption by 3-12%, which significantly reduces the operating costs of the vehicle.
– It is the specificity of the machines that determines the choice of specific tyre models. If we have a problem with it, qualified sellers can help. The more important thing is not to choose used or the cheapest tyres of oriental origin. In the case of aftermarket tyres, we are not sure about their actual condition, how they were used and stored – and this can quickly take revenge by having to buy a second, new set. The same goes for Chinese low-quality tyres. Yes, their price may seem attractive – but similar to the used tyres, also here it is not certain that they will withstand during field work and that we will not have to spend more money to buy something better – explains Sarnecki.
IF i VF
Radial tyres, which are gaining more and more market share, are appreciated for the ability to work with reduced pressure - which translates into less pressure on the ground during field work. This advantage is especially appreciated by the operators of the heaviest machines, which due to their weight tend to get bogged down in loose ground. The multi-functionality of the radial models means that they have lower fuel consumption and ultimately lower operating costs.
In the most professional farms with a large area – where the efficiency per hectare must be high - more and more new categories of radial tyres - IF and VF models – are gaining recognition. They have an even higher degree of sidewall flexibility and a higher load capacity - up to 40% more than a regular radial tyre of the same size, without the need to increase the nominal pressure value. This is very important as it does not force the machine operator to regulate the pressure during field work – especially in wet and boggy places. The big advantage of IF / VF tyres is that they minimize soil compaction without damaging the plants or negatively affecting the amount of harvested crop.
Exploitation and endurance
Agricultural tyres have to deal with sand, mud, water, clay and paved roads. It should also not react with the chemicals used in the cultivation. These are hard and demanding working conditions that determine the efficiency of agriculture. Only proven, branded tyres are able to meet all these challenges. However, it may also give up.
Unlike passenger car tyres, tyres used in agricultural machinery are repairable, although not a simple process. In the case of radial tyres, the sidewalls are most often damaged – which, if the carcass is intact, can be regenerated. The procedure of unvulcanized application of cavities in the rubber mixture with the use of specialized equipment is best entrusted to specialists.
– Agricultural tyre repair is a complex process, but it can only be done with good quality tyres. Cheap equivalents are not viable, and their repair in inches does not have to be successful – which in practice will mean another expense for a new rubber from proven manufacturers – explains Ryszard Marcinkowski, one of the best experts in the field of tyre service and repair in Poland.
Source: Polish Tyre Industry Association