Sprayers are larger and heavier than ever before—the same story you’ll hear about any piece of modern farm equipment. This size and weight increase is shining a spotlight on compaction and its negative effects for your farm. However, tire technology has evolved to keep pace with the demands of modern (heavy) equipment.
Are you fighting bad handling and sinking away when spraying?
Sprayers are notorious for sinking into the ground with their narrow tires. At the same time, the narrow tires also make staying between the rows a constant fight. Both of these issues are symptoms of a compaction problem.
Compaction from Your Sprayer is Costing You
Any machine on your farm can drive deep soil compaction by transferring too much weight to the ground over too small of an area. As this weight presses soil particles tightly together, your crop has a harder time growing: roots can’t spread out in the dense soil, nutrient uptake slows, and your yield potential drops. Plus, compacted soil is more easily waterlogged. Have you ever driven by a field after a heavy rain and seen the long, thin lakes that form in tire tracks? This all eats away at your bottom line.
How VF Tires Can Help Regain Lost Yields
Major tire manufacturers in the ag segment have responded with increased flexion (IF) and very increased flexion (VF) tires. Advanced rubber compounds and highly technical sidewalls allow these tires to handle more weight (or the same weight at lower air pressures) and help them put down a larger, more uniform, rectangular footprint in the field. And these larger footprints can help prevent compaction from putting downward pressure on your yields and profitability.
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 enlarges the tire’s footprint and can provide significant improvements in traction and fuel economy in addition to fighting compaction.
Improve Fuel Economy
Shoeing your sprayer with modern VF radials can also cut your fuel consumption. As your tires sink further into the soil, you’re burning tons of fuel just to climb out of your own ruts all day. For the health of your wallet—and your sprayer’s drivetrain—it’s best to float over the ground instead of powering through it.
Experience Precision Handling
Instead of steering like a trawler on the high seas, the best VF tires will improve your sprayer’s handling, make it easier to stay between the rows, and enable the most precise application of your chemicals. Plus, our top VF sprayer tire picks deliver a more comfortable ride, too. Designed with more closely spaced lugs, these tires sacrifice some clean-out ability for a smoother ride down the road and through the field.
The Top VF Sprayer Tires for In-Season Applications
If you want to drive between the rows, wide floater tires aren’t an option. But don’t worry: even in narrower row-crop sizes, there are several sprayer-specific VF tire choices that lighten the load on your soil. We’ve included our top picks below.
Staff Pick: Best Overall Tire: Michelin SprayBib
This is our top recommendation in VF sprayer tires. Michelin was the first to debut IF/VF tire technology, and the company’s experience in the marketplace shows. The Michelin SprayBib tire offers an excellent ride across the field and wears long even under heavy loads. The downside? A higher price tag. Michelin, however, is starting to price its products more competitively with other brands.
Staff Pick: Best Tire for Roading: Alliance 363 Agriflex+
Sometimes viewed as an “economy” tire company in the past, Alliance has pushed its way into the premium tire market with its Agriflex tire lineup. Today, many Alliance products compete well with major brands like Michelin and Firestone. The company offers a wide range of sizes, aggressive pricing, and 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 its 363 Agriflex+ VF 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+
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 steel-belted construction also provides excellent puncture resistance. Because this tire balances price and performance so well, it is our top pick when Michelins are too much for the pocketbook.
BKT Agrimax Spargo
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 road travel at 40 miles per hour and boasts larger lugs for increased stability and traction in the field. We are cautious with Goodyear farm tires, as they have had their share of issues in the past.
Czech-based Mitas offered IF/VF technology in the European market for years before bringing the technology to the United States in its product line. The HC1000 VF tire boasts a maximum travel speed of 40 mph and puts more lugs on the ground to provide better durability and traction with a longer service life.
Want Lower Impact Spraying? Switch to floater tires.
You can further reduce compaction in the spring with a set of sprayer flotation tires for pre-season passes. Floater tires may even help you finish your spraying on time instead of waiting and hoping that you’ll be able to finish applying your chemicals after a bout of wet weather. Explore your flotation tire and wheel options using our Sprayer Flotation Tire Configurator.
CTIS is Your Best Strategy to Conquer Sprayer Compaction
If you want to give your soil—and your bottom line—the best protection against compaction, you should consider another option: equip your sprayer with a PTG central tire inflation system.
Here’s why: Sprayer tires live in two worlds: the road and the field. For the road, you need high air pressure to handle the heat from long distances at high speeds. In the field, though, high tire pressures will cause a frightening amount of compaction and poor handling. But without a CTIS, you’re left with no good choice except to run your tires at high, road-friendly pressures everywhere, even if this damages your soil.
If you try to compromise and choose a pressure somewhere between the correct road and field pressures, you’ll still cause compaction in the field. Plus, you’ll wear your tires faster, burn more fuel, and have to contend with poor handling while running down the road.
Only with a PTG central tire inflation system are you able to control your sprayer’s tire pressures at the touch of a button from the driver’s seat. This gives you complete control over your tire pressures: Set them high to safely handle miles of high-speed road travel, and then drop them to the ideal pressures for field work. Remember: at the optimum field pressures, your tires cause less yield-robbing soil compaction and you boost your fuel economy at the same time because your sprayer isn't sinking into the soil!
Talk to the Tire Experts to Optimize Your Sprayer this Spring
If you’re interested in an IF or VF sprayer tire solution that will combat compaction in your fields to protect your yields—or want to ask if a central tire inflation system is a smart investment for your farm—call and speak to a tire expert at NTS Tire Supply. We will be glad to discuss the best options for your budget, equipment, and goals to Drive Your Farm Forward.