TIP OF THE MONTH - Why Tyre Pressure Matters


In agriculture, there’s no room for a “she’ll be right” attitude when it comes to tyre pressure. Failing to take a few moments to check for the correct air pressure in your tyres can be like throwing money down the drain. Running a tractor tyre at the wrong pressure can have a massive impact on tractor performance, tyre wear, soil compaction and fuel efficiency – with a flow-on effect on productivity and profitability. Not only that, but the tyres themselves will wear excessively and give up well before their time if not treated with the respect they deserve.

Too much air in a tyre will result in a smaller footprint, causing increased soil compaction, excessive wheel slip and reduced performance, as well as more rapid wear and perhaps even tyre failure. When over-inflated, a tyre cannot flex properly to provide suspension, so the safety and comfort of the operator is significantly compromised. The only instances where over-inflation should be considered is when undertaking hillside ploughing or when the tractor is required to operate on hard surfaces for any length of time.

Under-inflation, too, has serious implications for farmers. Too little air in a tyre can lead to sidewall cracking, bead cracking and tread lugs becoming torn around the edge. The ultimate outcomes of operating a tractor with under-inflated tyres are reduced overall performance, increased fuel costs, adverse environmental impacts, and irreparable damage to the tyres. Trelleborg Wheel Systems says that a tyre operated at 10% below the required pressure will suffer a 15% reduction in its life expectancy.

How to check for correct tyre pressure 
National Sales Manager of Trelleborg TRS New Zealand, Mark Prentice, says ensuring the correct tyre pressure is essential and relatively straightforward. “To properly measure tyre inflation, a special low-pressure gauge should be used, and this gauge should be checked for precision at least once a year. “Correct inflation pressure can be determined by weighing the rear tractor axle while the implement is in the raised position, then referring to the load/inflation tables indicated for the tyre size. This information can be found in the manufacturers’ handbook or by doing an internet search.”

Mark also advises farmers to check their tyre pressure at the right time: “Tyres should be tested when they’re cold, and prior to the tractor being operated. “A tyre that appears to have sufficient pressure when it’s hot will be under-inflated when it cools. So, farmers should make sure they check the pressure outside, and not in the warmth of a garage.” The type of work to be done is also a consideration: “Road and field work require different inflation pressures. Again, make sure the inflation pressures are adjusted according to the type of work being undertaken,” says Mark.