Maintaining the proper inflation pressure is the most important thing you can do to maximize tire performance. Doing that can more than double the life of an agricultural tire that can cost thousands of dollars to replace.
Too much air decreases the flexing of the casing and results in a smaller footprint, increased compaction and a rougher ride. Too little air stresses the tire casing and leads to rapid wear. Either extreme hurts performance and can ruin a tire, the experts say.
“With all the different types of farms and agriculture, types of tires and air pressure recommendations depend on the type of equipment and its individual challenges,” said Joe LeBlanc, manager of Les Schwab Tire Co. in Albany, Ore. “In harvest season a farmer may go from swathing to combining to harvest into plowing, disking and sometimes planting and many pieces of farm equipment serve more than one purpose.”
After the dust has settled, it’s time for a thorough inspection of a farm vehicle’s tires and suspension.
“We just want to make sure the tires are prepped for winter,” LeBlanc said. “Is there any checking on the tire? With older tires the rubber gets brittle. How’s the tread wear? Is the ballast where it should be? We look for lug issues and maintaining the all-important tire pressure level which, even on the same tires, varies with the things it is used for.”
That includes road travel, an extremely demanding chore for most farm machines. Adding a little more pressure may be called for to help prevent irregular wear.
Many farmers have learned to make their own such calculations, be it with tire charts and load tables or the use of online tools that help determine the ideal pressure based on tractor weight, what’s being pulled and the speed traveled.
“A lot of farmers are really well educated on this and anymore there are programs, such as through the ag show,” LeBlanc said. “Some farmers will check it every day and everything has got to be exactly right.”
Les Schwab’s service program includes specialized route people who often work with the same farmers for years.
“There are farms with an incredible amount of rolling stock,” LeBlanc said. “Some may need a tire expert out there once or twice a week.”
LeBlanc said most, if not all, tire manufacturers offer warranties that can make all the difference if a tire unexpectedly fails.
“Tires are a major factor to have correct, especially with what it can cost in time in the field, field usage and overall quality of operations,” LeBlanc said. “Some of these implements have extremely heavy, hard pulls.”