Tracks or tires: which causes more soil compaction?

“How many people believe that tracks are actually better than tires for soil compaction?” Marla Riekman, Manitoba Agriculture land’s management specialist, recently asked farmers at the Manitoba-North Dakota Zero Tillage Farmers Association workshop in Minot, North Dakota.

Riekman said Ohio State University research indicates that tires cause the same amount of damage as tracks if tires are properly inflated.

“When you’re running your tires at their rated pressures, it’s the same. In some cases, even better,” she said. 

Riekman said OSU research has found that properly inflated duals actually compacted the soil less than a 24 or 36 inch track.


Over-inflated duals caused more compaction than tracks and duals at rated pressures.

Randall Reeder, a retired agricultural engineer at Ohio State, has said over-inflated tires reduce the tire footprint, which increases the amount of compaction.


  • Rob

    This is a totally useless article.
    Were they comparing tires to tracks running at the same ground pressure or are they suggesting that tires at 28 psi do the same damage as tracks at 10psi???? There is no useful info here at all, its just a waste of cyberspace.

  • Cheryl Denesowych

    Ag planes leave zero tracks boys, just saying

  • No useful info at all; I agree.
    The next study, rumoured to be is this;
    How long will it take a donkey eating sawdust
    to evacuate ( bowel movement) a one meter wooden ruler.?

  • Paul

    I think the point is pretty obvious — if you run with duals inflated to the tire inflation recommended by the tire manufacturer for the weight of the tractor you will not have any more compaction than you would with a tracked tractor at the same weight. Not sure why that is so hard to understand — unless you have tracks and don’t agree with this.