Farming tyre techniques
to improve your productivity

Optimising spending is a major challenge for your activity’s profitability. This optimisation needs to go beyond negotiating the purchasing price of your machinery and consider the running costs which can be greatly reduced by improving the management of your equipment.
By paying attention to your tyres, you can improve the productivity of your machines, optimise fuel consumption and protect your soil.
Here are some guidelines that your can apply every day to get the most from your tyres and improve your farm’s productivity.

preserve your soils by taking care of your tyres

1. How to reduce your tractor’s fuel consumption?

Fuel consumption is one of the cost items of your farming activity on which you can have an impact. This cost item can reach up to 20% of your operating costs.
You can reduce fuel expenses by adopting some good habits while using your tractor.

Average fuel savings achieved
Average fuel savings achieved

a. Reduce your speed on roads

The first thing to do to reduce your tractor’s fuel consumption is to reduce your speed when driving on road surfaces. By reducing from 50 to 40 km/h, you may take 5 to 10 minutes more to complete the trip between your fields and your farm, but you will also save a lot of fuel.

There are several tractor models with a 40 km/h economy option enabling you to reduce fuel consumption during your trip by up to 30%.

b. Use the correct tyre pressure

Adapting the tyre pressure to the type of soil is essential to optimise grip and reduce rolling resistance. There is no need to use high engine speed.

When the tyre is over-inflated, spinning is increased which makes it necessary to accelerate to achieve the same tractive force, greatly increasing fuel consumption.

In contrast, with a lower tyre pressure, the surface contact with the soil is increased and the lugs will have a greater bearing surface, traction is improved without increasing the engine speed.

To save time checking pressure and adapting it to the soil, use a central tyre inflation system which enables you to adjust the tyre pressure without leaving the driving cabin.

field pressure advantages and disadvantages

c. Use economical power take-off whenever possible

When you use a tool on a recent tractor model, you connect the power take-off which transmits the engine power to the tool.

When your activity does not require full power, for spraying for example, switch to economical power take-off. This mode reduces the engine power to the working power required which will be around 1600 instead of 2000 rpm in normal mode. This can reduce your fuel consumption by up to 20%.

d. Plough less deeply

In many cases, it is not necessary to plough deep down to provide the aeration required for good plant development.

If your fields are worked regularly and you use low pressure tyres on all your machinery, choose the minimum ploughing depth for each crop variety.

Adapt your ploughing machinery to plough just the upper soil layer. By digging les deep, you will require less engine force and consume less fuel.

 

2. How to optimise the tractive capacity of your tractor?

Your tractor’s engine power is transmitted to the soil through your tyres. Optimising your tractive capacity means adapting the capacity of your tyres to the environment (hard, loose, wet… soil) to get the maximum benefits from your machinery and improve your productivity.

a. Use wide, low pressure tyres

Generally, the original tyres on your tractor are standard tyres, as they are the most affordable for the manufacturer. They are not specially designed for heavy loads, if your machinery is heavy, you will need to increase the pressure to enable these tyres to carry the weight of your tractor. This will result in a drop in efficiency which will not only increase spinning, but will also increase soil compaction in your fields, and have a negative impact on driving comfort. Over inflated tyres absorb less vibrations.

If your machine is powerful, and therefore heavy, choose larger, low pressure tyres which can carry a heavier load. These tyres are particularly well suited to working in the fields, harvesting tools and transport.

comparison of standard, IF and VF tyre footprint

As well as carrying a heavier load without requiring over-inflation, wider tyres distribute the tractor’s weight over a larger ground surface, improving your tractive capacity.

b. Choose dual wheels

Using dual wheels provides the same advantages as wide, low pressure tyres. By putting two tyres together, the weight of the machinery is better distributed on the ground. You can reduce the tyre pressure while increasing the tractor’s tractive capacity.

Dual wheels have more lugs making them grip the soil more efficiently.

combine tractor tires for productivity

c. Calculate the load transfer correctly

When pulling a large mounted or semi-mounted tool, the load greatly impacts the rear axle of your tractor. It is necessary to balance the masses to distribute the weight between the front and rear wheels. This balance is important to better distribute the weight on the soil.

While trying to achieve a good preponderance which enables the axles to be perfectly synchronised, you can put 40% of the load on the front and 60% on the rear. Using a front mounted tool to balance the whole convoy can be more effective than using weights.

d. Take the spin ratio into account

Analysing the spin ratio is the best way to be sure of the tractive efficiency of your machine. If the footprint left by the lugs is not visible on the soil, or if the tracks are much larger than the actual size of the tyres, your tractor is slipping too much. It might also be that too much soil is accumulating between the lugs and the tyre’s self-cleaning capacity is not optimal.

compacted soil between the tyre lugs

This excessive spinning not only reduces your tractor’s productivity, but it also causes increased damage to your tyres, which will cost you more in the long term.

If you have any doubts, you can measure your spin ratio. To do this, count the number of rotations made by your tyres over a given distance and divide this figure by the theoretical number of rotations indicated by the constructor. By multiplying this result by 100, you will find the spin ratio. Above 15% the ratio is excessive.

If the spin ratio is high, reduce the tyre pressure or ballast the tractor to increase the tractive capacity. You can do this with metal weights or by adding water to tyres in compatible models. In both cases, the tyres will grip better and improve your tractive capacity.

 

3. How to check for soil compaction?

Compacted soil will be difficult to work on and will not enable your crops to achieve an optimal yield. While taking care to save on fuel and optimise your tractive force, it is also vital to inspect your soil to see if it has been compacted by your machine. You could lose between 20 to 50% of your production.

a. Inspect the soil

You must inspect your soil regularly to check the compaction level. Certain warning signs could push you to carry out this analysis immediately. Firstly, if you notice numerous puddles in your fields, the soil is probably compacted and is not allowing the water to filter down to the lower layers.

Irregular crop growth is also a sign of compaction, while reducing the earth’s natural biological activity..

b. Check the roots of your plants

In non-compacted soil, roots should develop in all directions. In compacted soil, the roots will develop vertically or in just one direction due to poor soil aeration. Confirm the compaction of this part of the field by checking a neighbouring group of plants.

When the soil loses its crumbly structure, your yield will be considerably reduced. A chalky soil is generally more sensitive to compaction, but silty soil can also be compacted more moderately.

c. How to combat soil compaction?

The first way to avoid soil compaction is to use the right tyre pressure to avoid excessive weight transfer from the machine to the ground. If the wheels cannot carry the load at the nominal pressure, it is advisable to reduce the load carried. If this is not possible, investigate dual-wheels or large, low pressure VF tyres.

Choosing the right period to carry out a task can also reduce soil compaction. You should plough during dry periods as wet soil is more sensitive to compaction.

It is also advisable to optimise the task calendar to avoid driving too often over the same field.

For ploughing, sewing, spraying or harvesting, place markers to avoid always driving over the same tracks. There is a system called Controlled Traffic Farming which optimises the passage of wheels on the ground to be worked.

 


LEARN MORE:
Groups of farmers from 9 different countries have tested different fuel saving solutions on their machines.

Download the results by clicking on the button below

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The information contained in this publication is for guidance purpose only. Whilst every effort has been taken in its production, no responsibility can be accepted for any loss or damage arising from any kind of undetected technical or commercial error contained in this content. Any data supplied in this publication is subject to possible revision following the date of publication. Due to the constant advance of tyre technology, the contents of this publication are subject to change without notice.