Which agricultural tyres to choose for handling operations and loaders
Authored by: Tractor tyre expert | 23 December 2021
Each activity requires tools that are adapted to be sure of doing the job rapidly without encountering any particular problems, whether you are equipped with a telescopic handler or your tractor has a front loader, you must work with tyres which provide total stability and which will withstand rough work on hard surfaces for repeated loading and unloading operations and manoeuvres, often on the spot, with heavy load transfers to your tractor’s front axle. This situation in which your front axle is placed under considerable strain is very specific to loaders or telescopic handlers and requires a reinforced set of front tyres designed for this purpose. There are effectively specific tyres which have been developed for this type of work and which will be particularly efficient and avoid accelerated wear.
This article sets out what you need to know about these specific types of tyre.
1. Why do you need to anticipate the load transfer to the front axle?
The correct load distribution for a tractor is usually around 40% on the front axle and 60% on the rear axle, because the implements are generally mounted or towed at the rear of the tractor. However, when a front loader is used or for telescopic handlers, the first reflex to adopt is to anticipate the load transfer to the front axle, by increasing inflation pressure considerably in your front tyres if possible.
Here are the main reasons why you need to take into account the capacities and characteristics of your front tyres for this type of work:
1. Limit wear to the front tyres
The first reason being to avoid premature wear to your front tyres due to excess pressure linked to load. During handling or lifting operations, the load on the front of your vehicle increases, which places considerable strain on the structure of the front tyres.
If you use tyres that are too supple which were not developed for this purpose, the wear will be much more rapid, especially if you are not respecting the load index. In this case, you may see a rapid deterioration of the casing with a risk of bursting in the long-term. As with any activity, you will save more money by using equipment that was designed for the purpose.
Use of a telescopic handler in the farm courtyard
There are effectively specially designed tyres for handling operations which have a different internal structure and which can be inflated to a higher pressure than standard tyres.
You can of course counter the imbalance by adding mass at the rear, for tractors with a front loader you can adapt the weight to the rear lift to balance the tractor as a whole. In this way, all your tractor tyres will be solicited despite the load transfer to the front during lifting and wear to the front tyres will be reduced.
2. Avoid loss of stability
The second reason concerns your security. The use of a specific tyre allows you to benefit from reinforced casing which will reduce the lateral strain and mechanically increase stability.
Furthermore, adding weight at the rear to balance the load of your telescopic handler is essential because there is a real risk of it toppling over, in particular when the load at the end of the telescopic boom becomes heavier than the rear of the tractor, which can lead to a major imbalance.
3. Optimise traction
When you use a tractor with a front loader or telescopic handler, your tractor tyres often work on the spot during manoeuvres and the traction capacity will be essential if you are not working on hard ground but in the fields and in wet conditions for example.
To optimise traction, you must use a specific tyre and have a large contact patch with the ground for better distribution of the tractive effort over the tyre’s contact area, particularly on soft ground.
2. What type of tyres are suited to this type of handling work?
Handling and lifting operations require a great deal of manoeuvres back and forth, turning on the spot, often on hard surfaces.
Tyres whose sidewalls are too supple, such as low-pressure tyres, are therefore not suitable for this type of use. In addition, loads which vary permanently and are often very heavy oblige you to increase tyre pressure, often beyond the limit stipulated by the manufacturer, to cope with the excessive loads which the front axle has to bear.
Standard tyres or your tractor’s original tyres are not necessarily adapted to your specific uses, because dealers generally fit average tyres for classical uses without taking into account your front loader handling operation needs.
For this activity, it is highly preferable to use a more resistant type of tyre structure, which can be used at a higher inflation pressure to compensate for the crushing of the tyre linked to the excess load.
Tyres for front loaders
Whilst using a normal tractor for handling operations with a front loader is advantageous in terms of productivity and polyvalence compared to a telescopic handler; very close attention must be paid to the choice of tyres.
Indeed, having saved money by buying a front loader system rather than a telescopic handler, it would be a shame to use the money saved on replacing your front tyres too frequently.
If you work a lot in buildings or in the farm courtyard, where the ground is often very hard, you must prioritise more resistant tyres to avoid damaging them by frequent turning manoeuvres while loaded.
With this in mind, you should opt for a tyre with a reinforced casing with at least 6 layers of rubber on the tread as well as several layers on the sidewalls to minimise the risk of punctures and lateral wea.
Tyres for telescopic handlers
The telescopic loader is a machine that is designed for lifting, with certain large models which have a capacity of up to 4 tonnes and an arm which can stretch up to 10 metres, which is perfect for handling high bales.
It may be used in varied environments on all types of land: in the fields, on the road, in the farm courtyard, etc.
In view of the different possibilities of this type of machine and the weight shift constraints faced by the tyres, you must opt for specific tyres that have been designed for this type of activity.
Aware of farmers’ needs, equipment manufacturers innovate permanently in order to offer tyres that are adapted to each type of use.
There is now a large range of tyres for loaders or telescopic handlers adapted to the most intensive uses. Certain models may offer several advantages:
Resistance to wear: which allows you to extend tyre life.
Resistance to load: which allows you to work with heavier loads in complete safety.
More grip: which allows you to improve stability.
3. The advantages of specific tyres
For handling operations, different types of use must be considered, depending on your farm, for intensive livestock farming with lots of buildings, intensive handling work, methanisation loading work, etc. involving use essentially on a hard surface, the need will not be the same as on a mixed farm where field crops are grown and livestock farming is carried out. The tyres to be used must correspond exactly to the use you make of them to guarantee the best possible productivity.
Use of a telescopic loader with field crops
Adding a front loader to your tractor moves its centre of gravity. The lifting of a bucket or a loaded fork on the front loader moves the centre of gravity of the tractor both upwards and forwards, which reduces the stability of the machine and, consequently, increases the risk of loss of stability.
By opting for dedicated handling tyres, you will obtain greater resistance and a higher pressure capacity to compensate for very heavy loads. These specific tyres have a more resistant design to bear the massive load transfer towards the front of the machine during handling operations, even with a large boom.
The Performer Extra 85 for versatility
If you occasionally equip your tractor with a front loader but the main activity for your tractor is in the fields, you will need a versatile tyre which is suitable for field crop farming.
The Performer Extra 85 is the perfect tyre because it has a great load capacity and is made of rubber that is ultra-resistant to wear.
1. Controlled laboratory testing (DIN abrasion test) (accelerated ageing test) carried out by the Firestone R&D centre. The complete range of Firestone PERFORMER EXTRA tyres has been produced using a new generation compound since the end of 2017.
Below is a summary of the characteristics of this multi-purpose tyre:
Traction: the Performer Extra has a unique, patented Dual Angle lug system which guarantees a larger lug contact patch when driving on soft ground and excellent traction compared to standard lugs.
Pressure: this tyre model is available in 3 extra load sizes for multi-purpose activities at an inflation pressure of between 0.6 bar to respect the soil in the fields and 3.2 bar for handling with a front loader.
Durability and wear: the lifespan of this tyre has been extended with its sturdy, solid casing as well as a new generation rubber compound made of more resistant materials. It is more than 20% more resistant to wear than the previous generation of tyre.
Driving comfort and safety: Very good road handling and driving comfort. The long, overlapping lugs ensure greater flexibility when driving with less noise and vibrations.
The R8000 Utility tyre for the telescopic loader
If you work with your telescopic loader more often in the fields than at the farm, you will need more resistance to load but also good traction capacity.
Among the best models is the R8000 Utility tyre, a solution that is a perfectly adapted to polycropping and livestock farming handling operations, both in the fields and in the courtyard.
FIRESTONE R8000 Utility tyre
Below is a summary of the characteristics of this very sturdy tyre:
Traction: the R8000 Utility tyre has a rounded lug angle which helps avoid rapid wear but keeps good traction capacity on soft ground and optimal grip on all surfaces.
Pressure: this model caters for far higher loads because it has a very robust casing which means that it can be used at a pressure of 1.2 to 5 bars depending on the chosen tyre size.
Durability and wear: the R8000 Utility casing is reinforced at the level of the sidewalls to protect the tyre against external impacts. The tread layers are very thick, with a belt of 6 to 7 layers of rubber for maximum resistance to cuts and better protection against punctures.
Duraforce Utility tyres for hard surfaces
For a more frequent use on a telescopic handler in the farm courtyard on hard ground, you should choose a tyre which offers more resistance and more stability to cope with the load at the end of the telescopic boom. The best tyre for you is the Duraforce Utility, which is perfectly adapted to handling operations in buildings or in the farm courtyard.
Firestone Duraforce Utility tyre for intensive use
The benefits of this tyre which is designed for work on the hardest surfaces:
Traction: The Duraforce Utility has a flat lug structure which improves the tractor’s stability by enlarging the contact area with the ground. It provides excellent stability and optimal grip on hard surfaces.
Pressure: like the R8000 Utility, this tyre has a very robust and resistant casing and can be used at a pressure of between 1.2 and 5 bar, allowing you to work with heavy loads without any difficulty.
Durability and wear: with its belt of 6 or 7 layers of rubber in the tread, the Duraforce Utility has a solid, durable casing made of Firestone’s special anti-wear compound.
Driving comfort and safety: Excellent lateral stability is guaranteed thanks to the extra-large tread arch and the tyres’ thick sidewalls. This brings precision and reactivity, even during complex manoeuvres.
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.