Vineyard tyres: why choose a tyre that is adapted to vine growing?
Authored by: Tractor tyre expert | 18 August 2023
Vine growing is an extremely specific agricultural activity, due to the form of the crop, but also because of the type of soil or the steep sloping agricultural land. All these particularities make it necessary to have appropriate equipment to make certain that you don’t damage the vines with tyres that could cause soil compaction or be unable to cope with work on a steep incline.
Certain tyres have been specifically developed for vine growing; here are their specificities:
1. Avoiding soil compaction
How do my tractor tyres impact the soil in my vineyards?
When there is not much space in between the rows, the vine grower is obliged to drive very close to the grapevines. The same goes for frequent trips back and forth close to the vines to remove weeds. The machines used for vine growing are certainly less heavy than those used for seed crops, but the repeated passages over exactly the same spot, year after year, increase the risk of excess soil compaction, with highly negative consequences in the long term:
Loss of productivity,
Decrease in the quality of the harvest,
Excess soil compaction blocks root development
Good grapevine growth depends essentially on the structure of the soil, which needs to be porous and perfectly aerated to allow the roots to develop properly.
Grapevine roots are effectively not so good at penetrating into the ground. They make use of natural asperities, fissures and earthworm tunnels to expand.
Certain roots remain close to the surface and spread out while others work their way vertically downwards deep into the soil. Over the years, the roots strengthen, allowing the vine to capture minerals better and cope better through periods of drought.
However, the frequent passage of agricultural machines accentuates soil compaction around the vine plant. The result of this is to significantly hinder root development in the arable layer of soil and to limit access to nutrients, causing deprivation for the plant or blocking growth in young seedlings.
Compaction is detrimental to soil health
Soil regeneration allows your land to remain in good health in the long term by encouraging biodiversity and preserving the quality of the crops.
This biological process depends on the presence of microbial life and living organisms such as earthworms, which continuously dig their tunnels between the surface, where they feed, and the subsoil, where they nest. They contribute to the good circulation of water and air within the different layers of soil and allow the roots of the grapevine to penetrate deep down into the soil.
Unfortunately, excess compaction due to regular toing and froing of agricultural machinery over the same area can hinder soil regeneration by degrading the soil structure and the biological life within.
The soil loses its porosity and becomes more dense, which can even compromise the availability of the nutrients necessary for proper vine development.
Compaction encourages erosion and run-off
Vines are hillside plantations often grown on steep slopes. This particular factor encourages soil erosion.
If the soil becomes highly compacted, the porosity is altered and it becomes difficult for the water to penetrate deep down. The water stays on the surface, which leads to a risk of run-off and leaching in the arable layer of soil and destroys the nutrients present on the surface. In addition, if the soil is compacted, this increases the formation of puddles, causing a risk of fungi developing linked to the excess humidity.
2. Is there a link between tyres and water stress?
Excess soil compaction may be linked to incorrect pressure settings or too much load, or even to the quality or type of tyres used on your agricultural machines. This compaction provokes a reduction in the root system beneath the first 50 cm of soil which can no longer capture the available water.
When the compaction blocks the water supply to the deep soil layers, it reduces water reserves for the dry season. This results in water stress which will be damaging for the harvest, because a regular water supply contributes to the vine’s good organoleptic qualities.
Several factors may accentuate water stress, such as:
Excess soil compaction linked to load or tyre pressure
If this compaction becomes more pronounced, it could lead to a significant drop in yields and affect the quality of your harvests.
To prevent water stress and ensure optimal vine growth, management of the supply of water is essential. This generally involves repeated passages close to the same grapevines to ensure that they are adequately watered.
Of course, this in turn leads to more fuel consumption which will have a negative impact on your finances. You will also have to drive several times over the same spot, which accentuates compaction even further, unless you work with tyres that are specially designed for vineyards.
3. Choosing tyres that are designed for vine growing
Each crop is different and vine growing has nothing in common with field crops grown over large surface areas. It is therefore absolutely essential to adapt your tyres so that they correspond to the type of land used for vine growing, which is often very dry, with sloping hills that you don’t find in other crop growing activities. The same grapevine plants also remain in place for tens of years, necessitating repeated trips back and forth over the exact same area without impacting the soil.
Vineyard tyres have a more robust design
Vineyard tyres are generally destined for intensive use. These high-tech tyres have a reinforced casing, containing more tread plies than a standard tyre.
The sidewalls have to be supple to work at low pressure but resistant to carry the load and cope with a higher inflation pressure when necessary.
They are able to work on steep slopes
Vineyard tyres are designed to cope with the challenges of rough terrain or the steep slopes of hilly vineyards.
Thanks to their reinforced structure, they can operate at a high inflation pressure which is necessary if the load transfer to the following tyres is too high.
It’s this ability to maintain grip and stability despite the incline which allows the work to be carried out efficiently, without slip, while preserving the soil and the vine’s root system.
Very good resistance to wear and to aggressive vineyard terrain
The tyres used in vineyards must be able to cope with aggressive conditions and abrasive, sharp objects such as stones and plant residues.
Schist based, granitic rock derived or limestone vineyard soils are often dry with much steeper slopes than in most other crop farming activities.
These specificities require the use of tyres that are more resistant to wear and which are capable of lasting over time.
4. Firestone offers two vineyard tyre models designed and adapted to vine growing
It will be much more appropriate for your farm to use agricultural tyres that have been designed for vine growing. These tyres must effectively be capable of working with a wide range of pressure settings to preserve the grapevine roots, working at low pressure on flat land, but also working with a high inflation pressure to cope with a significant load transfer if you are working on hilly areas with steep slopes.
Firestone has developed premium vineyard tyres which are perfectly suitable for these requirements:
The R4000 vineyard tyre
Robust design R4000 tyres have reinforced structures at the level of the casing, sidewalls and tread. They are capable of working with heavy loads at low pressure to protect your land against soil compaction.
Optimised traction capacity Firestone’s R4000 vineyard tyres have patented Dual Angle lugs. This technology makes it possible to increase the tractive force while reducing soil degradation. The dual angle lugs ensure exceptional adherence to the ground.
High load capacity For harvesting or periods of intensive labour, R4000 vineyard tyres will allow you to transport heavier loads than standard agricultural tyres. They have a very solid casing and supple sidewalls, allowing for an inflation pressure of between 0.6 and 3.5 bar.
The Performer Extra 85 tyre
Thanks to components that are ultra resistant to wear, this new generation agricultural tyre guarantees you a longer working life, whatever the type of land.
More load The Performer Extra 85 can bear a heavier load with a high inflation pressure. It offers 8 Extra Load sizes (higher load indices) to adapt to certain intensive agricultural work.
Great motricity Firestone’s new range of tyres is equipped with patented Dual Angle lugs. This technology gives you a large contact patch with the ground in order to boost the tyres’ traction capacity without damaging the soil.
Well suited for working on a slope Designed for work on sloping land, the Performer Extra 85 has an optimised tread which ensures perfect adherence on rough, difficult terrain, which ensures stability and optimal traction when driving up and down hilly vineyard slopes.
For vine growing activities, the choice of good tyres is crucial to preserve the vineyard soil. This type of crop growing, often on hilly land, requires the use of tyres that are both resistant and less aggressive for your land.
At Firestone, you will find a range of vineyard tyres designed for work on sloping vine growing areas. These include the R4000 and the Performer Extra 85, whose design, specifically studied for vine growing, ensures a long wear life and an optimal traction capacity while protecting your soil against compaction and water stress.
For more information on tractor tyres
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This information is intended only to make you aware of the technical and functional aspects of agricultural tires and their use. It does not allow you to make a judgment or a definitive conclusion on a given problem. Only your agricultural tire expert is able to make a technical assessment and take a final decision, case by case.