An issue that blights farmers and is something that farmers are always looking to prevent, soil compaction from agricultural tyres has always been a big factor for agricultural fleets when considering tyres. To counter this, the ‘stamp out soil compaction’ campaign has been launched by Continental to demonstrate how the right choice of tyres and maintaining tyre pressure can help to minimise soil compaction.
Heavy Machinery and Tyre Pressure Analaysed with the Help of ADAS Soil Scientist John Williams
ADAS was set up in the UK over 75 years ago to help provide insight and solutions within agriculture. John Williams will be assisting Continental throughout the investigation to find enhanced solutions to protect the soil.
The results so far have been illuminating, as the partnership has found that up to 30% of UK soils are severely degraded. It has been calculated that 39% of the cost attributed to compaction could be reduced by choosing the correct tyres and running machines at the optimum load pressure.
The first machinery test used a KUHN Optimer XL 5000 to show how reducing pressures by almost half the recommended road inflation reduced soil compaction and improved the operating efficiency of the tractor and the cultivator.
On a stubble field, the rear tyres of a Fendt 720 ran at nine psi and the front to 12 psi (presidential special initiative). “This is less than half what the tractor could operate with on the road, and it demonstrates the difference needed to operate at the right load pressure when using large implements,” Williams explains.
In contrast, the same tractor went at twenty-one psi for both the front and rear tyres. “The tyre slip increased dramatically when the pressures increased, rising from below 10% to above 40%. The tractor was visibly struggling for grip and was leaving skid marks in the soil. A greater percentage of the overall weight was applied to a smaller surface area which severely compacted the soil,” he says.
The weight of farm vehicles and tyre pressure chosen is a major contributor to soil compaction. Hutchins believes that increased axle weights, caused by heavy implements and more powerful machines, could be offset by tyres that can spread this weight.
“Damage to topsoil is caused by incorrect tyre inflation, whilst compaction in the subsoil is mainly caused by increased axle loads. Calculating the correct pressure for the load will minimise the impact farming has on both,” he explains.
To help operators, Continental has designed an app that calculates the correct pressure for load based on the type of tyre and the weight of the vehicle, including any implement used. Commenting on the development Richard Hutchins, Continental’s agricultural tyre specialist, added, “Continental has developed a mobile app to help operators choose the correct pressure for any given load. The Agriculture TireTech app can be operated using both iOS and Android devices. It is free to download and easy to use.”
The new applications shows that technology is proving increasingly important and effective in terms of environmental care and cost savings for farmers.