A central tire inflation system can help solve one of your farm’s biggest challenges: compaction. Along with its side effects, compaction is the biggest profit stealer in your operation. Controlling compaction—safeguarding your soil—is one secret to boosting your yields.

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We recently covered how central tire inflation systems fight compaction in an article focused on planters, and you’ll see more information on these systems for several farm vehicles on our Practical Traction Knowledge page throughout 2022. Today, we’re going to cover the absolute basics: 10 common questions farmers have about these systems.

PTG: Our Central Inflation System Supplier

At NTS Tire Supply, we sell central tire inflation systems designed and manufactured by PTG (PTG Reifendruckregelsysteme GmbH), based in Germany. Founded in 1991, PTG has a 30-year history devoted solely to engineering, producing, and selling central tire inflation systems. Today, Michelin is the parent company of PTG.

1. How does a central inflation system benefit your operation?

A CTIS allows you to optimize your tire pressure for the task at hand. Run your tires at their minimum safe pressures in the field to fight compaction and maximize traction. For roading, inflate your tires to their maximum pressure for safe, efficient road travel. Without a system, you’re stuck with compromise: a pressure that’s not optimized for field or road performance.

2. How long will a PTG inflation system last?

A PTG system will operate for 10,000 hours virtually maintenance-free, thanks to its dual-line design (see #4 below). Over the course of 10,000 hours, the seals and other system components are pressurized for approximately 500 to 1,000 hours—only when inflating or deflating your tires. With competing single-line systems, the entire system is pressurized all the time, dramatically increasing wear and tear on the components. 

3. What if my machine won’t be around for another 10,000 hours?

Let’s say you want to mount a PTG inflation system on your tractor to start tackling compaction in your fields. But you’re also thinking about trading the tractor for a newer model within a year or two. No problem. You can unbolt the system and install the inflation system on a new machine in most cases. With a tractor trade-in, for example, you’d have to make sure the new tractor has the same axle style (bar or flange) to avoid having to purchase additional system components. 

4. What is a dual-line system?

PTG’s dual line system uses a main air supply line and a smaller secondary control line, which operates a valve at each equipped wheel. As we mentioned above, the system is only pressurized when checking or changing the tire pressure. This reduces the amount of time that system components are pressurized, which increases the overall life of the system. And, as we’ll discuss in #6 below, a dual-line system gives you vital protection against a flat tire.

5. What are the system components?

Aside from the valves and air lines, there are a few basic components to every PTG system:
• A central control unit
• An operating panel in the cab
• An air transmission unit for each equipped wheel (rotary union).
Depending on axle type or wheel position, the air transmission components will look a bit different. On bar axles, the system can be mounted directly on the axle between the tires and the frame. For flange axles or steered front axles, the transmission unit would be mounted on the outer side of the wheel with the air lines running over the mud guards and along the tires’ sidewalls.

6. Would I get a flat tire if an air line breaks?

No. But let’s be clear: this really doesn’t happen.  PTG kits include protective conduit for the air lines. If, for some reason, a field hazard would still break an air line, you won’t get a flat tire. (Obviously, the system wouldn’t function properly until you repair the line.) Thanks to PTG’s two-line system design, once tires are inflated (or deflated) to their target pressures, there’s no longer any air pressure in the system. The valve at the wheel closes and pressure is released in all the air lines and rotary unions. 

With a single-line system, on the other hand, you would have to leap from the cab and manually close a valve to prevent a flat tire. With a PTG system, this isn’t an issue.

7. How long does installation take?

Installation usually requires 1–2 days. This can vary a bit, because you do have to use your mechanical experience and discretion when mounting a system. For example, on a planter, you may want to funnel lines through PVC pipe or behind an angle iron for part of their run if you’re concerned about flying chunks of mud/debris affecting sections of air lines that are not protected by the conduit. So you may end up fabricating additional parts for extra peace of mind. In this video, a farmer narrates the installation of a PTG system on a John Deere DB66 planter. 

8. Why is there no “typical” installation?

It’s hard to give an exact picture of a “typical” installation because machines can vary so much. Take a tractor, for example. One farmer might choose to install the compressor in front of the cab beside the engine compartment. But another farmer might mount the compressor on the rear axle or behind the cab because he mounts tanks beside the engine compartment for planting and spraying. We even heard about one farmer who put his air compressor in a tractor’s rock box, which worked just fine. 

9. Do I get a heap of parts when I order?

No, you get a complete kit with all the system components you need. This is the way PTG prefers to supply systems—as complete kits for various makes and models of equipment. You will have to supply a few items, including the hydraulic hoses for the air compressor. Plus, you may need some other minor shop supplies.

10. How much time do I spend on maintenance?

Less than an hour per year. You should drain water from the system every day when you’re using it. You’ll also have to change the compressor’s oil once every year (or two years) and replace the compressor’s air filter as needed.

Wondering about the cost of an inflation system for planting? Read our article on central tire inflation systems for planters here.

Stop Compaction in 2023 and Beyond

Compaction can occur year round—from planting to tillage and every pass in between. The good news is, you can mount a PTG inflation system on most of your equipment:

  • Planter
  • Tractor(s)
  • Sprayer (self-propelled or trailed)
  • Tankers (manure)
  • Combine
  • Grain Cart

Concerned about compaction and want to add more bushels to your bins in 2023? Talk with a CTIS expert at NTS Tire Supply today to see if a central tire inflation system is a smart investment for your operation. When you take steps to safeguard your soil, you Drive Your Farm Forward.

January 15, 2022
Knowledge Guide


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