Soil Health and VF Tyres at the Forefront of Continental’s Strategy for the Agricultural Segment
Part 1 in our Agricultural Tyre Feature for Commercial Tyre Business sees us speak to Continental’s Agricultural Specialist, Richard Hutchins as we drill down into the current state of the agricultural tyre sector, the challenges that the manufacturer is having to face, as well as their upcoming product developments.
Commercial Tyre Business Speaks to Continental’s Agricultural Specialist, Richard Hutchins
We began by asking Richard regarding Continental’s view of how agricultural tyre technology will develop in the future and how the manufacturer is shaping its strategy.
Hutchins started by stating, “As tractors and other agricultural machinery become more powerful, the demand for tyres that can make the most efficient use of that power becomes ever more important. Continental tyres have been developed to meet the demands of modern farming.”
An example of this is illustrated in one of Continental’s flagship products for the agricultural sector, the VF TractorMaster which is safer, longer lasting and kinder to the soil.
Currently Continental offers next day delivery in the UK, with all tyres coming with a 10-year warranty, which has resulted in dealer demand increasing since as Hutchins explains, ‘farmers are investing in tyres that offer greater operational efficiencies and have the back-up of a warranty.’
The new VF range from Continental is characterised by a more flexible sidewall that has patented N.Flex technology enabling the vehicle to carry forty percent more load than a standard tyre at the same pressure whilst operating on the road. When the tractor transitions to the field the VF tyres’s pressure can be lowered by forty percent in comparison to standard tyres, even whilst carrying the same load. This allows the vehicle to benefit from reduced soil compaction by the fact the weight of the vehicle is spread over a larger surface area.
Richard moved onto discussing Continental’s key aims for the agricultural segment and the driving forces in Continental’s strategy. He began by highlighting how Continental’s position in a global marketplace guides their goals.
Hutchins says, “we operate in a global market. This guides our key goals, which are to develop our product range with new sizes and patterns to match the needs of famers working in the many areas of the world, whilst improving efficiencies, namely faster working speeds and reducing fuel consumption.”
Continental’s Agricultural Specialist also revealed to Commercial Tyre Business that they ‘aim to expand their current range of Tractor85, Tractor70 and TractorMaster tyres, whilst also developing the VF offerings in both harvester and large frame tractor tyres.’
In line with these product developments, Continental is also continuing to focus in on and develop technologies that aid in making tyres more efficient, such as their renowned ContiPressureCheck™ system. The ContiPressureCheck™ system is a system which monitors tyre pressure and temperature in order to improve how vehicles are optimised for road and field use. This ensures that the operator is provided with information to prevent tyre related issues such as underinflation or overloading.
Hutchins further commented on the new tyre types that were being developed by Continental, such as the latest launch of the VF TractorMaster Hybrid tyre. The VF TractorMaster Hybrid is an intelligent tyre designed for roads as well as hard and soft soils in the agriculture contracting work segment.
Hutchins expands, “the tyre is fitted with a pressure monitoring sensor and has a tread pattern that offers comfort and durability on the road. It is also designed to perform well on grassland making it a good tyre for the important task of silage making.
"The tread pattern has been designed to give grip whilst minimising damage to the grass.”
Our attention then turned towards the biggest challenges facing the agricultural sector. The sector has faced huge demands and pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic, whilst playing a critical role in supplying supermarkets across the world as more and more people were confined to their homes. Considering this, it is paramount that all aspects of the sector keep working at an optimum level. For Hutchins, the biggest concern in agriculture and specifically in the UK is soil health where historically heavy cultivation methods have been utilised.
Continental’s Agricultural Specialist explains, “The weight of farm vehicles and the tyre pressures chosen, are a major contributor to soil compaction. Increased axle weights, caused by heavy implements and more powerful machines, should be offset by tyres that can spread this weight.
"Damage to topsoil is caused by incorrect tyre inflation, whilst compaction in subsoil is largely caused by increased axle loads. Both should be addressed to minimise the impact farming has.”
As part of Continental’s focus on protecting soil health, the tyre manufacturer has recently introduced tyre pressure sensors into its agricultural tyre portfolio. These tyre pressure sensors are already pre-fitted on the VF TractorMaster Hybrid range and can be specified on any Continental product within the agricultural range or even retrofitted.
Hutchins underlined this approach by stating, “VF tyres with pressure sensors are the future for farming and will help to reduce soil compaction.”
With soil health a key concern especially for agriculture in the UK, it’s clear to see that tyre intelligence and ContiPressureCheck™ will be key facets in Continental’s ongoing strategy for its agricultural portfolio.