So far this spring, wet fields have delayed planting in many parts of the U.S. and Canada. As farmers fall behind historical planting norms, the anxiety to get into the fields regardless of conditions continues to grow. While we at ATG understand the eagerness to get the seed into the ground, we also know this is the time of year to practice patience, as one of the most common mistakes made by farmers is entering their fields too early.

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The old saying goes the best things come to those who wait, and that could not be more true than in farming, as getting into the field too early causes soil compaction and impacts your yields for years to come. While waiting for warmer and drier soils can be frustrating, it’s important to remember that your  soil is most vulnerable in spring—and just because you can run a machine in your field doesn’t necessarily mean you should, as the potential for soil compaction is greatest when your field is just dry enough to work in without your machinery getting stuck.

Wondering how big of an impact soil compaction can have on your bottom line? Researchers estimate that soil compaction can reduce yield between 14% and 70% depending on the crops and soil—but it’s more than just yields that are affected. In Canada, farmers saw a 35% increase in fuel costs tilling compacted soil, while in Illinois the energy demands were between 10 and 16 times greater for low-speed tillage in compacted soils.

Of course, there are some situations where you just can’t wait any longer and need to get into the field, and then there are some farmers who just refuse to wait. If wet fields are in your future, it’s time to look at an IF/VF tire. IF/VF tires can be run at lower pressures than a standard radial tire which allows for the creation of a larger footprint. The larger footprint allows the weight of your machine to be spread across more of the soil’s surface area, reducing the amount of tire pressure against the soil, resulting in less rutting and lower soil compaction as well as better traction and improved fuel consumption. 

Although having the right tire for the right application is a good place to start, for your IF/VF tires to perform to their fullest it’s important for them to be inflated to the proper pressure. Before heading into the field this year, invest in a good gauge and check your tires. ATG’s James Crouch likes to remind us that for every 10 degree change in ambient air temperature, a tire can experience a change of one psi in pressure. Now think about the big temperature swings experienced in the spring—still confident your tires are at the proper pressure?

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In agriculture, there are so many factors that a farmer can’t control (weather and soil moisture levels being near the top of the list) that it’s essential to manage the factors that can be controlled. With proper tire choice and management, you can greatly reduce compaction and protect one of your most valuable assets: the soil. After all, healthy soil is the foundation of big yields and bountiful bottom lines.

We know it’s tempting to get in the field, but before going in, contact your ATG dealer and discover the difference and IF/VF tire can make to your operation.