Why Implement Tires Are Changing

June 10, 2024

The demands on implement tires — heavier equipment and more on-road use — are among the forces contributing to the widening of size offerings and expanded capabilities.

Dave Paulk, manager of field technical services for BKT USA Inc., says implement tires are made to withstand tougher elements.

“Implement tire designs and sizes continue to evolve and grow with the use of heavier equipment and wagons. The smaller 15-inch and 16-inch tires in a bias design have been used for a long time. Since there are still many implements that use these sizes, they aren’t going away anytime soon. The 15-inch and 16-inch sizes are still used in large numbers in bias tires.

“With heavier equipment and road use more prevalent, small implement tires are now being designed using radial technology to carry heavier weights at highway speeds (30-45 mph). Many are made with steel belts and stubble-resistant compounds to help maintain the integrity of the tire and provide added puncture resistance in the field and on the road.

“Some are increased flexion (IF) and very high flexion (VF) and can be run at lower air pressures in the field to minimize soil compaction. BKT’s 19.5-inch and 22.5-inch I-1 radials are made with an all-steel construction. The 15- to 22.5-inch radial sizes are used on cultivators, planters/seeders, and a wide array of other equipment.

“Although smaller implement tires are still widely used, larger implement tires (flotation tires) have become more common because of the weight of the equipment and wagons and the load carrying capacities needed,” he says.

“The larger sizes include 22.5-inch, 26.5-inch and 30.5-inch with a few sizes of 32-inch available. These are used on larger implements such as planters and on liquid and dry manure spreaders in dairy and feedlot operations. Some flotation sizes are used on larger hay balers. These tires are taller and wider to carry high loads on the highway at higher speeds. The wider width gives the tires good flotation when used in the fields and can spread out the weight of the load to minimize soil compaction.

“While most of the smaller implement tires, bias and radial, are made in an I-1 design (rib type tire), the I-2 and I-3 designs (traction treads) have gained popularity in the larger implement (flotation) sizes. As opposed to the I-1 design, this tire provides some traction in the field if needed. When used in wet soil and on hills, the traction design limits the side to side (lateral) movement. With the correct air pressures, the tires generally wear well in highway use. Most are used in pull behind the tractor operations, although there are some self-propelled applications.

“More of the larger implement radial sizes are steel belted or made with all steel construction,” he notes. “Both are used to maintain the integrity of the tire while in use. Both also add puncture resistance to minimize downtime and damage to the casing. The all-steel casings increase load carrying capacity as most are VF-rated.

“VF technology and all steel casings are becoming more available because of the weight carrying capacity and speeds needed for applications using these tires. BKT makes both steel-belted and all steel radials in certain sizes.”