New Tractor Tires Spell Trouble for Track Systems
The good folks at Ohio-based Mytee Products are more than happy to sell tractor tires to local farmers. They don’t sell the biggest commercial tires designed to compete with track systems, but that may change at some point in the future. Thanks to ongoing research and testing, the tractor tire industry is now on the verge of developing mass-market tires that compete very well with track systems.
The track system on a farm tractor is very similar to one installed on a tank or front loader. A series of notched wheels are positioned on either side of the tractor, then a track is wrapped around the wheels and connected. Propulsion is achieved by turning the tracks via the notched wheels. The tracks run across the soil and move the tractor forward or backward.
Track systems are seen as being superior in fields where the soil is loose and damp. As the thinking goes, even the best tractor tires do not perform as well under such conditions. Farmers choosing to use tires compensate for undesirable field conditions by adjusting tire pressure. But that’s not necessarily good for the tires. Though expensive, investing in a track system is considered better for both tractor and farmer.
New Tires vs. Tracks
It will take a very impressive set of tires to convince track users to switch. Said tires, developed by Goodyear, now appear ready for the mass market. They were presented earlier this year at the 2018 Farm Progress Show along with data from Goodyear’s extensive testing. Show attendees were apparently impressed.
Goodyear tested their new tire of technology with the help of John Deere dealer Van Wall Equipment. They equipped one heavy-duty tractor with the Goodyear tires and then brought in a comparable tractor already outfitted with a track system. Then they pitted them in a head-to-head competition in a Midwest testing field.
The test revealed that there were no significant performance differences between the two tractors. They both operated at about the same speed; they both completed their tasks in roughly the same time; the test fields were properly turned over at the conclusion of the tests. In short, Goodyear’s tires performed every bit as well as the track system.
Soil Compaction and Price
Being able to show that the new tires can compete with track systems is just the start of the good news for Goodyear. Testing data also allows them to pitch two additional benefits of choosing their new tires over tracks. The first is related to soil compaction.
Mytee Products explains that one of the problems with track systems is that they cause significant soil compaction during operation. This makes the tractor’s job more difficult because the implement being pulled behind the tractor now has to do double the work. Tracks may help tractors get through soft soil, but they also create more work for the equipment.
The second benefit is near and dear to farmers: the cost of tires vs. tracks. A comparison between the test tires and comparable tracks showed a stunning $40,000 difference. Savings may vary from one tractor owner to the next, but there is no arguing that tractor tires cost significantly less. They also do not require nearly as much maintenance and repair. Goodyear says that farmers currently using tracks can save a lot of money by switching to tires.
Tractor and tire dealers are not ready to go all in with Goodyear’s new tires just yet. However, the data is promising. A year from now, a range of new tractor tires could spell trouble for track systems.