Profit and loss in the world of Agriculture is extremely tight and sometimes the smallest adjustment or increased efficiency can change a bad year into a good one.  Greg Jones, Global Field Engineering Manager for Firestone Agricultural gave some advice on one of those areas.

As US farmers prepare to navigate spring weather and wet conditions, it's important to remember that tires are a critical piece of equipment too. One piece of this is being proactive about tire set up and maintenance. It includes checking the proper tread depth and inflation pressures. You don't want your tires to be the reason that you're delayed in planting because it can cost up to about $2000 an hour.

Photo by Jorge Pena on Unsplash
Photo by Jorge Pena on Unsplash

Tire Checklist

We have developed a simple seven step tire checklist that'll help farmers make sure that their tires are in great working order. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes and includes everything from checking tire pressures and using the inflation calculator and checking the tread as well as knowing when to replace the tires and properly tighten lug nuts and these kind of things. There's things that they could do to be proactive and you can find this checklist by clicking HERE. From that place you can watch a video. You can fill in some information and they'll send you a hard copy of these seven steps.

Tire Pressure

First step that you want to consider is checking the tire pressure regularly. You can use the inflation calculator if you need to understand what pressure you need to be at. You can find that again on that website. It is key that you use a gauge and you go in and check these things. Knowing that the air pressures, the thing that carries the load basically, and the tires merely a vessel that contains the air pressure are very important.

driver checking air pressure and filling air in the tires close up


The second step is checking the sidewall. Sidewall.  You want to look for things like cracks or any type of damage and you want to kind of understand, is this something that needs to be repaired or is this tire needing to be replaced or is this something it's just purely cosmetic that you want to keep an eye on?


The third thing is to check the tread. What we're looking at there is basically trying to understand how much tread is left because these tires wear as you use them and as they wear, they get to a point where you lose that surface area and that frictional force that makes traction.

Fragment a old and new modern winter car tires

Overall Damage

The fourth thing is look for damage.  Little things like stubble that you see can erode away the rubber in the tread. Basically, what we're looking at are cords exposed, and this looks like fabric. So when you look into this area of the tread and you see some material looking cords, that's what we talk about is fabric. That's the thing that becomes very concerning to us and that's because when you're getting to the fabric, you've gone pretty deep into the tire.

Contact Area

The fifth thing you want to look at is check your contact area, because if you have a tire that's over inflated or under inflated, you could potentially be not getting the proper traction. That contact area that I mentioned earlier, that frictional force, that's what really delivers the work to the ground. Having a tire that's overinflated, that's where you can actually put your hand in between the ground and the lug, that's an over inflation. You need to double check your pressures and run through that calculator and make sure you're running at the right optimal pressure.

Photo by Richard Bell on Unsplash
Photo by Richard Bell on Unsplash

Valve Stems

Check your valve stems, because that's a component of the assembly. So the assembly being the tire, the wheel and the valve stem. You need to make sure everything's tight. You need to make sure you have a valve cap on, and that's important because that can help keep getting dirt, debris and things down in around the valve core.

Nuts and Bolts

The seventh thing is just checking the nuts and bolts on the wheel and make sure that they're snug and they're tight. These things, as you use them, will work their way loose. So, you always want to check these things.

This is a very proactive way of looking at all the things that could potentially keep you out of the field and cause a delay in planting. Like I said, that delay in planting could cost up to around $2,000 an hour.

Photo by Simon Ray on Unsplash
Photo by Simon Ray on Unsplash

Should Farm Tires be Rotated

Not necessarily, it would rely on what you see when you're doing that tread inspection. If you notice that you're having some type of wear profile that is not even wear, from side to side, then you could potentially do a rotation that could help you extend the life of the tire. You'll never go back and get the rubber that's worn off, but you can extend the life of that tire by moving it to a different position that's not wearing that same way and at that same time go back and look as to what caused that wear profile.

How did you figure the potential $2000/ hour loss

When we talked about that $2000 per hour for the downtime, how we got that is based on common industry assumptions. What we assumed is people are using a 16 row planter, they're planting on 30 inches, they're planting at five miles an hour and they have an efficiency rate of around 80%. Then we picked a commodity like corn, which had an average $6.70 cents per bushel yield. That was taken from the USDA reports at also 173 bushels per acre. The yield loss that we threw into that calculation was from a DuPont pioneer planning outcome effect of corn yield studies. So, we took all those and put them into that calculator to come up with that value.

If you have a story idea or something you want to learn more about, give Randy a call at 406-788-3003 or send me an email at

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