Tires vs. tracks may not be as age-old as free will vs. fate or as contentious as Ford vs. Chevy, but it’s still important to anyone who climbs into a tractor on a regular basis — especially when you’re concerned about soil compaction.
Titan International brought the issue to the forefront at the 2018 Farm Progress Show, where it released testing data that demonstrated that Goodyear LSW1400/30R46 super single tires (a flagship model for the Titan corporation) offer comparable field performance and reduced soil compaction at a much lower cost than tracks. The testing conducted in partnership with Van Wall Equipment, a Midwest John Deere dealer.
Titan says that the results, along with input from two of the Midwest’s largest equipment dealers and their customers, indicate a considerable market shift toward wheeled 4WD tractors over tracked 4WD tractors in the coming years.
“Until recently, there hasn’t been a viable alternative to tracks on the market,” says Scott Sloan, ag product manager for Titan and Goodyear Farm Tires. “With continued pressure on margins, growers are evaluating their equipment investments with a more critical eye. We’re entering a key replacement cycle for machinery, and farmers are ready to buy, but they are looking for a better value. That’s why Titan is putting such a heavy emphasis on developing flotation options, and why we’ve partnered with key equipment dealers to ensure their viability as a replacement to tracks.”
John Deere field test: tires versus tracks
Don Van Houweling, owner of Van Wall, partnered with Titan to test a John Deere 9620R equipped with the Goodyear OPTITRAC LSW1400/30R46 head-to-head against a John Deere 9RX track machine. The results showed comparable traction, slip, and speed between the two machines conducting tillage, but the wheeled machine consumed approximately 15 percent less fuel.
“With current market conditions, I wanted to find a more cost-effective option to tracks for my customers. I took interest in the LSW1400s but didn’t feel comfortable recommending them to my customers without proof that they could keep up with tracks. That’s why we were interested in the testing,” says Van Houweling. “The tests showed that in normal field conditions, they perform equally as well as tracks, if not better, and offer a much more desirable transport experience — all at a $40,000 cost savings. This is a valuable proposal for my customers, who are always watching their bottom lines.”
Soil compaction test: tires versus tracks
The second test compared the ground-bearing pressure of the LSW1400 tires on a John Deere 9620R versus a John Deere 9RX track machine, using Tekscan™ pressure mapping technology to record more than 100,000 data points on the two machines. Titan found the ground-bearing pressure with the LSW1400s was an average of 16 percent lower than tracks, with the tire’s maximum recorded pressure being 38 percent lower than the maximum pressure of tracks. The data shows the tires’ viability as a competitor to tracks, but ultimately, growers are also looking for buy-in from the OEMs.
“The performance and potential cost savings demonstrated through this testing should provide both OEMs and growers all the proof they need to shift to super single tires,” says Sloan.
Case IH shift toward wheeled machines
As one of the Midwest’s largest Case IH dealers, Chad Colby, general manager at Central Illinois Ag, sells primarily track machines to his customers. Yet, he expects to see a lot more growers switch from tracks to wheeled machines soon, simply because of the viable alternatives now offered from Titan. Wheeled machines also tend to have a higher resale value because tires don’t wear as quickly as tracks.
“With growers looking for ways to save money, the timing is ripe for the market to start shifting toward wheeled machines. And we’ve got the right tire to do it with Goodyear LSW super singles,” says Colby. “I tour farms every year to do product demos. This year, the machine I take will be a Steiger equipped with LSW1400s. I’ll be targeting a lot of my long-time track customers and discussing why they should consider the switch to a wheeled machine — that’s how confident I am in the tires’ ability to compete with tracks.”
Case IH has recognized the market potential of super single tires and has recently added the Goodyear OPTITRAC LSW1250/35R46 as a price book option for the Steiger series. As an alternative to tracks or conventional dual configurations on large 4WD tractors — its section width offers the ultimate combination of flotation, traction and ride quality.