Farmer Iron
Farm tires and footballs - the inflation game

Farm tires and footballs - the inflation game

'Deflategate' was a brouhaha that keeps creating news, but on the farm inflation is a whole different matter.

Ideas for blogs come from a lot of sources, and for this one I turn to a public relations friend who pointed out something interesting this week. Sure he works with a major farm tire company, and sure, we talk about inflation a lot on the farm. But this week inflation of a whole different matter is on the minds of media at CNN, ESPN and others.

Softer is better for farm tires, but perhaps not for footballs. With newer high-flex tire designs the right air pressure makes a big difference.

I'm talking about the 'Deflategate' report - that 243-page report (who the heck has time to write that much about potentially-under-inflated footballs?) - looking at whether or not the New England Patriots played inflation games with footballs during the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. It's not like officials are going to toss the game results of that playoff event leading up to the Super Bowl. I can see that headline "Soft football blamed for killing playoff results" we're talking a few ounces of air in a football, and an apparent abundance of hot-air on this topic over the airwaves.

UPDATE: By now you've heard that Tom Brady has been hit with a four-game suspension (he'll apparently appeal), a $1 million fine for the team and the loss of three draft picks - including a first-round pick. The debate continues.

Sure Brady says he's still considering the report. I'm sure that a 243-page report on football inflation is the nation's latest cure for insomnia too. No, I haven't read it, I have no trouble getting to sleep at night.

But on the farm, inflation is a big deal. If you're using new IF and VF tire technology - and here's where my PR friend's idea comes into play - such as that offered by Michelin. Knowing appropriate tire pressures for what's on your equipment can help you run better, reduce tire-related compaction and offers a host of other options for improved efficiency.

As my friend pointed out "lower-pressure farm equipment tires are not only permitted but also encouraged" by Michelin (I added the emphasis there). No deflategate on your farm. In fact, the bigger challenge is finding ways to minimize tire inflation pressures in the field while also having the right pressure for over-the-road travel.

Last year I went to France to visit with Michelin. They were celebrating the 10th anniversary of their high-flex tire technology (they were the first to get the industry to recognize the IF tire designation). It was where I got the chance to drive a sprayer fast and furious (no we didn't drop it from a plane). And we had some long discussions about tire inflation systems that allow you to increase inflation pressure for road travel, but drop it back to much lower levels for field work with the flick of a switch in the cab.

As you invest more in the tires you use, having exactly the right inflation pressures - without Bill Belichick's help - will be more important. Though Belichick might have had the right idea on lower inflation being a benefit at least for your farm (and perhaps Brady too?). As for Deflategate: we won't decide if it helped the Patriots against the Colts in that AFC Championship game - we'll let the pundits on ESPN and elsewhere have at it for your viewing enjoyment.

On your farm though, a softer look to tires designed to operate at lower pressures will provide a wider footprint, lower compaction and better traction. It's pretty simple - for the right farm tires softer is better.

Michelin does have some tips for reducing compaction with field equipment - and those of you who can measure yield differences in wheel tracks may want to check these out:

* Check and maintain proper tire pressure as temperatures change through the growing season.

* Reduce total exle load by operating the lightest equipment for each application that still transfers horsepower to the ground with minimal slippage.

* Reduce the number of trips you make over a field - and reduce the area of the field where you drive.

* Use duals and large-diameter tires, since the larger surface area can reduce tire pressure against the soil.

* When added weight is needed, use cast iron ballast instead of filling tires with liquid ballast.

Just a few tips as you wrap up planting this season and get into early- and mid-season field work.

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