To avoid extreme situations, it is essential to distribute the weight correctly on your tractor to lower its centre of gravity when using certain machinery such as a forklift attachment or any tool which causes imbalance with a heavy load.
More often, correct distribution of weight will avoid excessive spinning which reduces your productivity, slows down your work rate and damages your soil.
But how to choose between water ballast or adding extra weights? What is the most suitable solution for each person?
What to do before ballasting your tractor?
The first thing to check before you think about ballasting your tractor is whether the tools you are using are too heavy, or unsuitable to the power or weight of your tractor.
If you buy second hand tools to save money, be sure to check the weight indicated by the tool manufacturer or, if this is not possible, check its weight to be sure that you’re really saving money and won’t have to compensate with tonnes of ballast, or that using this tool won’t cause damage to the front axle of your tractor.
If you are using heavy tools that do not correspond to the weight of your tractor, even when loaded, adding twin wheels to carry the weight and better distribute the tractive force may be a solution.
Ballasting agricultural tyres with water is much more economical
Inflating with water is a solution suitable to all tractors and which can be supplemented by rim weights and front or rear metal weights if necessary.
This really is the most economical solution, ballasting tractor tyres with water enables you to add between 2 to 4 tonnes for almost no cost. What’s more, you can’t make a mistake with the weight that your tractor can carry: as the quantity of water is proportionate to your tyres and distributed equally, it will always be suitable for your machine.
There’s no risk of damaging the front axle or frontlift.
Good traction up and down hills and increased grip sideways on inclines.
This solution does not suit high speed work or fast driving on roads: with water in the front tyres, there is a clumsy effect linked to the movement of water in the tyres.
It takes around 2 hours to inflate tyres with water and around 2 hours to empty them, you use this type of ballast for several months. The main drawback is the dead weight generated by this weight, which results in increased fuel consumption throughout the year, even when the ballast is not necessary.
The weight is carried by a small volume of air; around 25% of the global volume. The consequence: any loss of air results in a large reduction in pressure, which means that you must monitor tyre pressure frequently.
Ballasting with metal weights distributes the weight better between front and rear
It is advisable to ballast with metal weights if you wish to adapt the distribution of weight between the front and rear of your tractor, which is not so easy with water ballast.
For optimal results, the distribution of weights should comply with the table below. If your tractor is to carry or tow a light load, then a large proportion of its weight should be on the back axle. However, if the load is heavy, the weight should be distributed as equally as possible over the front and rear axles..
|Distribution of weight between the front and rear axles in %|
|Light load||Medium load||Heavy load|
The metal weights must be placed as low as possible on the machine to lower its centre of gravity and provide stability.
Using metal weights is very flexible as you can adjust the number of weights according to your requirements.
If you have the right materials, either a lifting tool or chocks, equipping the tractor should only take ¼ hour for a gain of several tonnes.
If you do not have access to the right equipment (lifting material), the installation is time consuming and dangerous due to the great weight of the loads.
To ensure that you add the precise weights required, use a weighing machine for each axle and check the maximum agricultural tyre load index recommended by the manufacturer.
CAUTION, if the front lifter cannot lift the weight, this is because you have exceeded the capacity of your tractor, it would be safer to reduce the load. Overloading the front of the machine will generate increased wear to the tyres, or worse, damage to the front drivetrain.
Be aware that choosing the correct tyres is often the best soluion
In cases of excessive spinning, it’s easy to blame the tractor weight and overload it with additional weights leading to increased fuel consumption.
In fact, using a large IF or VF tyre will often be the ideal solution to avoid ordering unnecessary tonnes of additional weights.
The Bridgestone-agriculture blog is written and administered by tractor tyre experts who are available to provide you with advice on your tyres. They will help you to maximise your productivity with information on tyre related topics: Technical data for agricultural tyres - Agricultural tyre performance - Advice on agricultural tyre pressure - Solutions for avoiding soil compaction - Sprayer tyre pressure - Why and how to ballast your tractor tyres - etc.
To take it one step further and increase the profitability of your farm, Bridgestone-agriculture provides a free, highly detailed eBook hich explains the essential role of the agricultural tyre in your productivity.
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The information contained in this publication is for guidance purpose only. Whilst every effort has been taken in its production, no responsibility can be accepted for any loss or damage arising from any kind of undetected technical or commercial error contained in this content. Any data supplied in this publication is subject to possible revision following the date of publication. Due to the constant advance of tyre technology, the contents of this publication are subject to change without notice.