A new transatlantic study carried out by Harper Adams Unversity on the impact of traffic and tillage on soil compaction has found that using Michelin Ultraflex technology tyres on agricultural machinery could potentially boost yields by 4%.
Harper Adams led the study from its campus in Newport and another site in the USA in conjunction with the University of Illinois.
Paula Misiewicz PhD AMIAgrE, senior lecturer in soil and water management at Harper Adams University, said: “Agricultural vehicles have got heavier and heavier over recent years and the impact that has on the soil can be severe. The aim of our investigation has been to find ways of alleviating compaction.”
The study in Illinois was conducted over three years, using 290hp tractors with Michelin Ultraflex low pressure tyres and standard pressure tyres running in two fields.
“The results we saw in Illinois showed quite clearly that Michelin Ultraflex Technology tyres can help farmers to significantly reduce compaction and, in the process, boost their yields by 4% in comparison to standard tyres,” said Misiewicz.
In Newport, the study ran for nine years with standard and Ultraflex tyres used in a controlled traffic farming system with zero-tillage, shallow tillage and deep tillage techniques compared.
“While there were some benefits of using low pressure Ultraflex Technology tyres in all three systems over the nine years, it was with the deep tillage techniques where it really stood out. Here again, we recorded around a 4% yield improvement in comparison to conventional farm tyres,” said Misiewicz.
Feeding the world
Prof. Richard Goodwin, visiting professor at Harper Adams, noted: “Whilst that improvement might seem small, when you think of it globally, it goes a very long way to help feed the world. Many people are worried about the sustainability of the human race, and if we could get these results for many different crops, it would make a huge impact in sustainability.”
The study also found that any increase in the initial outlay for operators purchasing Michelin Ultraflex tyres would be paid off within 12 months.
“Our analysis found that the payback period is about a year. And so effectively, once you have paid for your tyres in year one, you’ve recovered your investment, and typically farmers would be running those tyres for another five years or more,” added Godwin.
Michelin’s Ultraflex technology is said to allow operators to run at lower than standard tyre pressures, protecting the health of the soil by reducing compaction and rut formation. It is available on AxioBib, AxioBib 2, EvoBib, XeoBib and YieldBib tyres for tractors, CereXBib and CereXBib 2 tyres for combines and forage harvesters, FloatXBib for self-propelled spreaders, SprayBib fitments for high-clearance sprayers, plus TrailXBib and CargoXBib High Flotation tyres for trailers.