As post-emergence sprayers roll across the country and harvest crews gear up for wheat harvest, it’s a perfect time to focus a few minutes on tire inflation pressure, says Patrick Gaston, Omaha-based field engineer for Alliance Tire Americas. That’s especially true for people running on increased flexion (IF) or very high flexion (VF) tires, he notes.
IF tires can carry the same load as a conventional radial tire of the same size at 20 percent less inflation pressure, Gaston explains. VF tires can push the inflation pressure difference to as much as 40 percent less.Increased flexion (IF) tires like these help reduce soil compaction and improve machinery performance—especially when inflation pressure is right.
“That allows you to significantly reduce soil compaction, which has been shown to have serious negative impacts on crop productivity for years,” Gaston says. “When it comes to maximizing the benefits and life of your tires, it all comes down to managing inflation pressure.”
“What we see as we travel around the country, and around the world, looking at our IF and VF tires on tractors, sprayers and combines, is that too many people own these great tires but are missing out getting the full benefits of the technology by treating them like regular radials,” Gaston points out.Checking inflation pressure is a key step in reducing soil compaction and improving tire performance
IF and VF tires represent huge leaps in tire design, materials and construction, he says. The double-layered sidewalls are designed to provide extra flex without generating the heat that would destroy conventional radials operating at such low inflation pressures. An extra-strong bead package and special rubber wedges above the bead add strength and direct the flexion to the lower sidewall. And steel radial belts—standard in all Alliance Agriflex IF and Agriflex+ VF tires—spread the footprint evenly and widely across the soil surface to maximize performance and minimize compaction pressure.
“But for all those features to work their best, the tire has to be operating at the air pressure it’s designed for,” Gaston says. He offers several tips for optimizing the performance not just of IF and VF tires, but any farm tire:
· Know your load. Proper inflation pressure takes into account load and speed. Your tire dealer (or tire manufacturer’s website) will have a chart that allows you to determine the proper inflation pressure for the load and speed you’re operating with.
· With your sprayer, tractor or combine fully loaded, run your tire on dry gravel and look at the tread. Does the dust extend all the way to the shoulders of the tire, or is it concentrated in the middle of the tread? If you see a band of dust down the middle but it doesn’t reach all the way to the edges of the tread, you’re probably overinflated.
· Look at the edge of the tire on a hard surface. If the machine is fully loaded and the shoulders of the tire are lifted off—even a little—you’re probably overinflated.
Overinflation prevents IF and VF tires from flexing their sidewalls, placing their footprint fully on the soil surface. That prevents the tread from performing to its fullest in converting engine force into traction, and contributes to faster wear down the centerline of the tire. Overinflated tires are more likely to fail when they hit rocks or potholes, and to be harder on axles, frames and steering columns. Last, overinflation creates a “hot zone” of soil compaction pressure across a smaller footprint.
“IF and VF tires represent a revolution in farm tire technology, and I’d love to see owners enjoying all the benefits they bring to the field,” Gaston says. “All it takes is a few minutes with a reliable tire gauge and an air compressor to make your tires—and your machinery—operate at their highest potential.”
For more information on Alliance IF and VF tires, visit www.atgtire.com or call (800) 343-3276. For a white paper on the effects of tire inflation pressure on soil compaction, click here.