In their continued efforts to reduce soil compaction from heavy farm equipment, tire manufacturers are creating new radial sprayer tires that carry the same load as standard radial tires, but with 40% less pressure, and a lot less compaction. Here is a review of the latest sprayer tires.
Spraying equipment, as with all ag machinery, has grown larger to keep pace with the size and complexity of today’s farms. Likewise, tire technology has evolved to keep pace with the demands of modern (heavy) equipment. To combat increased compaction and the corresponding potential yield decrease, modern tires must distribute weight as evenly as possible across the tire’s contact area.
Major tire manufacturers in the ag segment have responded with increased flexion (IF) and very increased flexion (VF) tire models. Rubber compound and structural advances allow these tires to handle more weight (or the same weight at lower air pressures) while the sidewalls flex more dramatically, which ultimately increases the tire’s footprint in the field.
Michelin was the first to bring IF tires to the ag market 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. Using the lower inflation pressure of an IF or VF tire enlarge the tire’s footprint and can provide significant improvements in traction and fuel economy.
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.
Today, many ag tire manufacturers offer their versions of IF and VF tires for self-propelled sprayer applications. Here’s several of the makes and models that we deal with at NTS Tire Supply.
Staff Pick: Best Overall Tire – Michelin SprayBib
This is our top recommendation in sprayer tires. Michelin was the first to debut IF tire technology and their experience in the marketplace shows. The Michelin SprayBib tire offers an excellent ride across the field and offer long wear even under heavy loads. The downside? A higher price tag. Michelin, however, is starting to price their products more competitively with other brands.
Staff Pick: Best Tire for Roading – Alliance 363 Agriflex+
Often seen as an “economy” tire company in the past, Alliance has pushed its way into the premium tire market with their Agriflex tire lineup to compete with major brands like Michelin and Firestone. They offer a great size range that is priced right with good overall quality. Additionally, Agriflex tires boast an industry-leading 10-year warranty.
For these reasons, Alliance earns our second top recommendation in sprayer tires with their 363 Agriflex+ tire. The unique lugs on this tire are divided into separate blocks, providing both good traction in the field and superior comfort for high-speed road travel.
Staff Pick: Best Value – Alliance 354 Agriflex+
Also made by Alliance, the 354 Agriflex+ VF sprayer tire features a traditional tread design for outstanding traction and excellent self-cleaning properties in the field. Stronger lugs than regular row crop tires and an enhanced lug shape ensure exceptional durability and a reduction in road noise when traveling between fields. Its steal-belted construction also provides excellent puncture resistance. This tire is an excellent blend of value and performance—our top pick when the Michelin is too much for the pocketbook.
BKT Agrimax Spargo
In 2018, BKT brand farm tires topped Firestone as the #1 replacement brand for rear radial farm tires, grabbing 26% of the U.S. market share (Modern Tire Dealer) while proving, yet again, that they are a major player in the ag tire market.
The BKT Agrimax Spargo is a good “budget” tire that incorporates the benefits of IF/VF technology. Although priced lower than some others on this list, we haven’t received any negative feedback on this model at NTS Tire Supply.
Firestone Radial All Traction RC
With Firestone you get the comfort of a well-known brand name and tire design features such as curved, wider tread bars for a smoother ride and a larger contact area. The Firestone Radial All Traction RC has proven to be a solid performer since its release.
Goodyear Ultra Sprayer
As with Firestone, Goodyear is one of the most recognizable names in tires. The Ultra Sprayer is good for 40 miles per hour and boasts larger lugs for increased stability and traction in field conditions. We are cautious with Goodyear farm tires, as they have had their share of issues in the past.
Czech-based Mitas has offered IF/VF technology in the European market for years, and they are likely ahead of traditional American brands such as Firestone and Goodyear with their IF/VF tire technology. The HC1000 VF tire boasts a maximum travel speed of 40 mph and more lugs on the ground to provide better durability and traction with a longer service life.
Often viewed as a higher quality tire over Mitas, Trelleborg is a global player in the ag and forestry tire market based in Sweden, with manufacturing capacity all over the world. In 2015, Trelleborg acquired Mitas while continuing to produce both brands of tires.
The TM150 is Trelleborg’s first VF tire for spray applications. The tread pattern on this tire has been designed with close lugs to prevent stubble damages and improve road performance at high speeds (up to 40 mph). In addition, the new design features wide lugs to increase the tire’s stiffness when the sprayer is loaded.
If you’re interested in an IF or VF sprayer tire solution that will combat compaction in your fields to protect your yields, give NTS Tire Supply a call. We will be glad to discuss the best IF or VF sprayer tire for your budget, equipment, and goals.
Looking to further reduce compaction in the spring with a set of sprayer flotation tires? Explore your floater tire and wheel options using our Sprayer Flotation Tire Configurator.