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Under the best of conditions, the demands placed on equipment tires used in traditional ag operations are brutal: excellent traction in all kinds of conditions; minimum soil compaction regardless of application; improved fuel efficiency whether pulling a fertilizer applicator or combining corn. And don’t forget about a comfortable ride in the field and on the road.
Add in the challenges of no-tilling where corn stalks might as well be razor-sharp spears, and resistance to stubble piercing adds an entirely new dimension to what grower’s want from tires. And as farmers increase production of continuous corn and adapt the newer Bt corn hybrids with tougher stalks, the difficulties with corn stubble are becoming increasingly pronounced.
If growers were asked to rank which criteria are most important to their operation, it’s a good bet that most would put soil compaction at the top of their list. With compacted soils, crop growth is stunted because access to carbon dioxide and oxygen is restricted, along with reduced access to moisture and nutrients. In short, soil compaction reduces income potential.
When it comes to the rubber hitting the road, or the field, growers essentially have two choices and good cases can be made for both — tires or tracks.
From the tire side of the fence, advocates say that in most cases, radial tires with their larger footprint and improved traction are your best bet. They also indicate that problems with crop stubble are greatly reduced with newly developed tire compounds.
Track advocates, though, say…