3 soil conditions

3 soil conditions to understand to avoid compaction by your tractor tyres

A thorough knowledge of the soil in your fields will allow you to work more efficiently, to avoid excessive compacting and to optimise your yield.

Soil compaction is the result of multiple factors: the weight of your farming machinery which negatively impacts your soil structure or its biodiversity. The pressure of your agricultural tyres often depends on the type of activity and the weather conditions.

To easily determine the best time to work in your fields, here are 3 easily identified soil structures to allow you to anticipate the impact of your tractor tyres on your land.

To fully understand, you need to know that the load-bearing capacity of a soil is its capacity to handle the loads transmitted by the tractor wheels during the work. A soil is more or less load-bearing depending on its texture, structure and its moisture ratio. It is important to always work on a well-drained soil to avoid excessive compaction which will damage the structure and life of the soil.

Not all soils have the same tendency to compaction… You can manually identify three soil conditions, to ensure that you work efficiently and protect your soil.


1. Hard and compact soil

Hard and compact soilIf the earth is as hard as a rock and you can’t separate the lumps, then the earth has been damaged mechanically by farm machines.

Tillage: very difficult

Extremely difficult without prior deep-down aeration. A very hard earth will potentially damage your tools and each passage will require a lot of tractive force.

Load-bearing capacity: maximum

You can circulate with all types of farm machinery; the tyre pressure will not impact the soil which is already compacted through mechanical action.

» See our article: How to fix soil compaction caused by your tractor tyres

2. Crumbly and light soil

Crumbly and light soilIf the soil is soft and light, the lumps of soil will crumble when you press them with your fingers, so the soil can be tilled.

Tillage: ideal

Ideal conditions for tillage, the lumps of soil separate easily.

Load-bearing capacity: average

The use of heavy machinery, unsuitable tyres or excessive tyre pressure will quickly result in soil compaction. Ideally you should use low pressure VF tyres at 0.8 bars, which will distribute the load over a wider ground surface to avoid compacting the soil.


3. Wet and sticky soil

Wet and sticky soilThe earth is full of water, it is sticky and very soft. The wetter the earth, the higher the risk of compaction.

With insufficient drainage, the earth will be fragile and highly sensitive to pressure.

Bad load-bearing capacity
Tillage: to be avoided

The soil will distort under the weight of the machinery, your machine’s power will not be converted into working power whatever the tyres you choose, excessive spinning will damage your field and cost a lot in fuel.

Load-bearing capacity: bad

The soil will be compacted deep down, whatever the materials used.

Tillage carried out on an overly wet soil causes excessive spinning and slipping. This will compact the soil deep down and reinforce the hardpan.

On this type of unsuitable soil, an overloaded axle, or excessive tyre pressure, will lead to deep down soil compaction which will create ruts and over time, will thwart the development of your crops.


The bridgestone-agriculture.eu blog is written and administered by tractor tyre experts who can provide you with advice to help you optimise your productivity (Technical data for agricultural tyres - Agricultural tyre performance - Pressure advice for agricultural tyres - Soil compaction solutions - Sprayer tyre pressure - etc.)

To take it a step further and increase the profitability of your farm, the tractor tyre Experts has prepared a free highly detailed ebook which explains the essential role of agricultural tyres on your productivity.

Download eBook: Increase the profitability of your operation

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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.

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