Weight distribution the key in choosing tracks or tires

The dust is starting to settle in the great tire vs tracks controversy, but both have advantages in some areas


The debate about round rubber tires vs. flat rubber tracks began about five minutes after photos of the first Challenger tractor appeared in in January of 1987.

That model 65 challenged conventional thinking about farm tires.

Today, 33 years later, the debate is no longer red-hot, but it simmers on the backburner. It affects decisions on tractors, combines, grain carts, air drills and anything else on the farm that moves.

However, technological advances in both tires and tracks have given farmers a lot of information to help make decisions about how their implement lineup should ride over the soil. That was the message Dave Paulk delivered at the recent Ag In Motion Discovery, which was held online in July in lieu of the cancelled Ag In Motion outdoor farm show.

Paulk, a technical manager for BKT Tire in Dallas, Texas, was a moderator for a roundtable session on tires vs. tracks.

“There’s still ongoing debate over which is better, tracks or tires. But in fact they both have their advantages, depending on your situation,” said Paulk.

“The main difference between tires and tracks is how they distribute the weight. Tires have their contact point as the bottom comes around and makes the footprint. The tire rotates and moves. A track has a long footprint and puts less pressure on the ground.

“With the introduction of IF and VF tires, everything changed. These tires allowed you to run much lower pressures to increase the contact and reduce pressure on the dirt. The IF let you carry 20 percent more weight at the same pressure, and the VF let you carry 40 percent more weight.”

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