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IF, VF Tires Increase Field Efficiency

In a field demonstration this week, Firestone proved that the company’s new line of tires provides more traction to increase efficiency in the field. “Better efficiency over the time of a field or a farm can translate into fuel, labor, and time savings,” says Tom Rodgers, Firestone.

The advanced deflection design (AD2) tires, classified as increased flex (IF) or very-high flex (VF), have technology that allows them to run with reduced inflation pressure, which provides more traction, less slippage, and, in doing so, will make the tire travel farther with each revolution. In Firestone’s research, the tires increase efficiency on average by 3% to 5%.

Field demonstration
To demonstrate the impact of tire inflation on efficiency, Firestone ran two separate tests. For both tests, one end of a cable was attached to a drive tractor, run through a pulley on an anchor tractor, and attached to a second drive tractor. As both drive tractors pulled the anchor tractor at the same speed and rpm, the tractor with tires delivering more traction moved ahead of the other. The tractors were driven 1,000 feet on a farm in Polk City, Iowa.

In the first test, the tire with standard tires was set to the minimum inflation pressure – 14 psi – to carry the axle load. The tires on the other tractor were overinflated to 30 psi. This is what might be a necessary inflation pressure to transport a 24-row planter, so it is a common overinflated condition. In this test, the tractor with the proper inflation finished about 48 feet ahead of the second tractor, which equates to about a 5% efficiency improvement.

“For inflation pressure, you need to have enough to carry the load, but properly setting it gives you the most efficiency in the field,” explains Rodgers.

For the second test, the first tractor was kept at 14 psi. The second tractor, equipped with IF AD2 tires, was properly inflated to 10 psi. In this test, the second tractor finished only 12 feet in front of the second, a smaller distance than what most of Firestone research has shown, notes Rodgers. This equaled about a 1% improvement in efficiency.

“The two tests showed overinflation, the proper tire inflation, and reduced inflation made possible with new technology,” says Rodgers. “A reduced inflation pressure improves efficiency with each step.”

Yield benefits
This particular demonstration focused on field efficiency, but IF and VF tires can also reduce compaction and, therefore, can increase yields. Compaction can reduce root development, limit the ability of soil to hold water and nutrients, and limit crop development. “At the end of the day, all of this contributes to yield loss, which is what we are trying to eliminate,” says Wayne Birkenholz, Firestone. Because AD2 tires run at lower inflation pressures and have a larger footprint, they can reduce compaction.

For example, a planter with standard tires will need to run at 80 to 110 psi. The VF AD2 version of this implement tire only requires 52 psi, and the footprint increases by up to 40%.

The Firestone line of AD2 tires is now available for a full growing season of applications, including field prep, planting, spraying, and harvest. Tires classified as IF can carry 20% more load than a standard tire at the same inflation or carry a given load at a reduced inflation pressure. For VF tires, this moves up to a 40% heavier load or reduced inflation pressure for the same size load.

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