Ag equipment has become bigger and heavier over the years. And while that increase in size can increase efficiency over a growing season, it can have a negative impact on crop production due to soil deterioration and increased erosion from the extra size and weight. This happens as a result of soil compaction.
When fields are wet with spring moisture from melting snow and rain, your heavy equipment — like large tractors, sprayers, seed carts, combines, trucks and manure spreaders — can compact the soil so much that it reaches the root zone.
By compressing the soil into a shallower depth, you can face less-than-ideal conditions and results. Compacted soil can:
- Reduce space for water to permeate the earth
- Reduce the rate the water reaches the root zone and subsoil
- Decrease the soil’s ability to store water and air for plant roots
- Limit physical root growth
- Hinder crop growth
- Reduce crop yield
What’s the solution? Glad you asked. Soil and the equipment that can affect it is our specialty. The key is to adjust what you can whenever it’s possible. That means having the right setup on your equipment:
- Adjust PSI to the recommended pressure for your size and load rating. This alone allows the footprint of the tire to expand, which reduces compaction and soil agitation. (As an added benefit, it could also increase the life of your tire, since most radial tires are overinflated because they “look” flat. Airing those radials up causes the tread to wear faster.)
- Flotation tires work well in all soil types and create a smoother ride that minimizes machine damage and wear, so there are benefits even if soil compaction is minimal. That said, definitely contemplate using floats if the soil is wet or clay-like.
- Consider R1 or R1-W tread design to reduce slippage, which will cut back on fuel consumption and cost.
Above all, have a tire chart available. It’s the easiest way to properly categorize tires and lets you see the specs of particular tires across the board.