NTS Tire Supply

IF/VF Tractor Tires: What Sets Them Apart from Standard Radial Tires?

Heavier equipment, stunted pinch rows, and a lack of pulling ability with your current tires are all good reasons to take a serious look at IF or VF radial tires. Here's what puts these tires ahead of a standard radial tire.

IF/VF Tractor Tires: What Sets Them Apart from Standard Radial Tires?

Tire technology is constantly evolving to keep up with the demands of modern (heavy) equipment. The bigger and heavier your tractor or implement, the more important it is to make sure it’s riding on the right tires. Why? Because the wrong tires can undercut your bottom line with decreased fuel economy and, because of increased compaction, potentially lower yields.

Two options available to farmers to combat these problems are increased flexion (IF) and very high flexion (VF) tires. Michelin was the first to invent IF tires in the early 2000s; VF tires followed shortly after. IF tires can carry (up to) 20 percent more load at a standard radial’s inflation pressure. Or they can carry the same load (as a standard radial) at 20 percent less inflation pressure. Very High Flex (VF) tires can carry 40 percent more load at a standard radial’s inflation pressure—or the same load (as a standard tire) at 40 percent less pressure.

Footprint comparison of a standard radial 480/80R50 tire with an IF480/80R50 radial tire
Firestone’s IF radial tire (right) puts more of your tire in contact with the ground and exhibits better weight distribution.

Better Contact, Better Traction with IF/VF Tires

IF and VF tires achieve these gains using highly technical sidewalls that incorporate a complex network of steel belts to help carry the load and promote a uniform, rectangular, and larger footprint. This equals better fuel economy and longer wear, thanks to decreased slippage and increased traction. Plus, stouter sidewalls offer stronger protection against corn stalk damage.

Flotation Depends on Tire Inflation

As a general rule, the compaction force a machine exerts on the ground is roughly the same as its tires’ inflation pressures. If a machine’s tires are inflated to 80 psi, the machine will exert 80 lbs. of compaction force on the soil. Reduce the inflation level to 45 psi, and you’d be exerting less than 50 lbs. of compaction force on the soil. With today’s larger and heavier machines, it’s especially important to reduce compaction potential in your fields whenever possible.

A Word of Caution on Tire Pressure

You’ll need to remember one important rule before you invest in IF or VF tires: success depends largely on you. In order to see all the benefits discussed in this article, you must correctly set tire pressure for specific applications. If you don’t, problems such as power hop and road lope can rear their ugly heads and lead to discomfort, shorter tire life, and decreased productivity.

IF/VF Tire Options for Tractors, Combines, Sprayers, and Implements

The scope of equipment with IF/VF tire options has greatly expanded since their initial release. So whether you're looking to get rid of the pinch row effect from your planter or stop making those "pizza cutter" tracks in the field with your sprayer, you have options.

Your Resource for IF/VF Tires

Because IF and VF tires are a significant investment on your part, it’s important to work with a tire dealer who can help you choose the right tires and also help you determine how best to inflate them for different applications. Every farm is unique, which is why NTS Tire Supply offers a comprehensive range of ag traction solutions for farmers and equipment dealers and houses the largest selection of used and takeoff ag tires and wheels in the Upper Midwest. Give us a call or drop us a line today to learn more about IF and VF technology.

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PTK, or Practical Traction Knowledge, is NTS Tire Supply's initiative to bring current, useful, unbiased information to you to help you make informed traction decisions. PTK is the place for you to ask questions and gain the traction knowledge necessary to improve your operation, no matter the size.

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