When you’re out checking your fields late this summer, remember to check one more thing when you return to the farm: your tires. Summer is the perfect time to spend a few minutes making sure your tires are in good working condition before you head out into the field for harvest.
“Downtime in the field is so costly,” says Brad Harris, manager of global agricultural field engineering at Firestone Ag. “During harvest, when every hour counts, farmers should take proactive measures to avoid equipment problems if at all possible, so they can keep moving through the fields.”
Harris has outlined six steps to quickly, but effectively, check tires to find potential problems before rolling into the field.
1. Check your tread depth to see if you are running bald. If the tread depth is less than 20% of the original depth, consider replacing the tires.
2. Check the tread area to see if there is any stubble damage in the tread area. If any cords are exposed, replace the tire.
3. Check the sidewall for any cracks or cuts, and know what your sidewalls should look like when properly inflated. Radial tires need a proper bulge, but bias sidewalls should remain straight.
4. Check your contact area; your tread bars should be making contact with the ground. Using your hands, check to see that there is no space between the lugs and the ground.
5. Check your valve stems for cracks or corrosion. They should not be packed with dirt, and all the caps should be on.
6. Check lug nuts and bolts, and wheel weight lugs and bolts. They should be properly tightened.
“Don’t forget to check inflation pressure,” adds Harris. “Tires are pressure vessels, and you’ll get more out of your tires when they are properly inflated. Time in the field, fuel efficiency and tire wear all can be improved by inflating your tires to the appropriate pressure.”
To find the correct inflation pressure, first weigh your equipment to know what kind of load your tires will be carrying. Then use an inflation calculator to determine the correct inflation pressure. Adjust your inflation pressure to the correct levels and continue to adjust them if needed during harvest.
“We often overlook how important tires are in a farming operation, but they are carrying the weight of our yields out of the field during harvest,” concludes Harris. “We know farmers need to make the most use of their time in the fields, so it only makes sense to check that tires are in good condition before equipment is put to heavy use.”