Soil compaction is the bane of a productive farm operation, but in the past decade a lot of work has been done with lower pressure tires that shows you can tackle the challenge. Michelin pioneered the idea of lower-pressure tires with Ultraflex Technology. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of the new type of high-flex sidewall that can take on 40% more weight at the same pressure, or you can cut pressure up to 40% and carry same load as a conventional tire.
The concept is taking hold as farmers look for ways to boost productivity and end the challenge of compaction in the field. Yet Michelin isn't slowing down the development of new tires. Already this year the company launched a 50-inch sprayer tire in the SprayBib line that will give big sprayers the ability to run on lower pressure and cut compaction.
And for 2015 there will be a new implement tire for the market aimed at larger grain cards and manure hauling rigs. And while the CargoXBib may be popular first in Europe, there are applications for the new tech tire in the United States too.
Farm Industry News got a look at compaction demonstrations during a trip to Michelin's Ladoux France tech facility. In a series of workshops, they showed visitors the history of Ultraflex, as well as some demonstrations of the tech at work. For example we got a look at how well a high-flex tire still performs on a sprayer in transport when quick movements are needed.
New tire for big trailers
The look at the CargoXBib tire started with a review of how lower pressure really does reduce compaction. The two trenches in the field showed a single pass of an implement with tires on one side inflated to 2 bar (about 29 psi) and the other side inflated to 4 bar (58 psi). From the image with this story it's clear that the higher inflated tire is causing more compaction and a deeper trench on every pass.
The new CargoXBib High Flotation will become the main version of the tire in the line with its Ultraflex technology. And while at first glance they may not appear much different, the Ultraflex version brings this technology to trailered implements for the first time. In addition, the new version has a revamped tread pattern.
James Crouch, who works with Michelin in the United States, comments that the new tread patter has a useful purpose. "It provides better cleanout when leaving the field," he says. "In Europe, if a farmer pulls mud up on the road he must clean that mud off the road. So the quicker that tire cleans out when it leaves the field the better."
There are some areas in the U.S. where mud pulled on the road by big implements working a field may become an issue. This tire would help make sure big, heavy implements like grain carts or manure tanks don't bring a lot of mud out of the field on departure.
In the images you find with story you can see the CargoXBib definitely flexes in low-pressure mode. You'll also note the addition of the tubes and apparatus on the wheels. That's a Central Tire Inflation System, and something that's going to become more important for the future. With system the grain cart hauler can raise the tire pressure when roading a machine to another field, but the minute the machine enters the field, the tire pressure can be reduced to get to a lower-compaction setting. The tires are built to take the change.
Controlling air pressure
Crouch adds that one challenge farmers face is that they don't know what their inflations are: "We find that they range widely on the same machine. A CTIS will make a difference allowing farmers to match their tire inflation to what the machine is doing."
Lowering inflation pressures, on tires built to handle the higher loads, can reduce compaction. Work by Harper Adams University in England is showing that compaction is a true yield robber. That work has shown that reducing compaction can consistently boost yields by more than 4% on a variety of tillage types. Their work continues as part of a 10-year study that started with wheat in England, but will eventually expand to other crops in other locations.
Compaction is the watchword. The rise of the IF and VF tires on the market aim to help solve that problem. Michelin's celebration of 10 years of Ultraflex shows the technology is maturing, though more work to manage inflation pressures will be needed. You can learn more by visiting michelinag.com.