Agricultural tyres – how do you choose the best for Queensland farms?

Know your tyres to cut costs and maximise productivity

Agricultural tyres are work horses – like your tractor. They are also big investments – like your tractor. Unlike your tractor, tyres have remained pretty much the same for a hundred years and more. While the shape of tractors has changed markedly, agricultural wheels are still the same basic shape and colour. Yet, just like in the cab and under the bonnet of your tractor, tyre manufacturers have packed an increasingly big punch into agricultural tyres.

To get the best performance from your tractor, you should understand the tyres it sits on.

Agricultural tyres and technology

The agricultural tyre looks very similar to how it did a century ago, and when compared to the tyres you may have had on your tractor in the 1980s, there is even less difference. But underneath that black exterior, there is a whole lot of new technology going on.

Manufacturers have massively upgraded rubber compounds. It has helped to increase load capacity. Agricultural tyres can now roll at lower tyres pressures, giving them better traction in the field.

Cross-ply or radial – which is best?

Cross-ply tyres have criss-cross cords, while radials have steel cords and belts across the casing. It’s now widely accepted that radials offer the best performance. They:

  • Reduce wheel slip
  • Reduce soil compaction
  • Produce less rutting and soil erosion


Radials offer greater horsepower-to-ground capability, less wheel slip and reduced soil compaction, which in turn leads to less soil degradation via rutting and erosion.

A soft footprint for reduced rutting

Because of the way they are constructed, radials have a softer sidewall. It enables the tyre to run at a lower air pressure, which produces a ‘soft footprint’. The harder the tyre footprint, the deeper the rutting in the field. It is bad for crop growing, and bad for the tyre and the engine.

Your tractor engine must work harder to power the tyres through deep ruts. It uses more fuel and decreases engine life, too.

Radial agricultural tyres should give you a better soil, and cut your running costs.

The agricultural tyre trade-off

There is a trade-off to make when choosing between radial and cross-ply tyres for agricultural use. We wouldn’t recommend you ballast radial tyres with water. However, it’s a common practice to ballast cross-ply tyres with water. They are cheaper and more durable. If you work a rough terrain, where puncturing is a problem, cross-ply may be your better option. And for small-scale farmers, cross-ply tyres are usually more economical.

When radials outperform

For large-scale farmers, especially where production levels are important, radial tyres should be the tyre of choice. Though they cost more, their extended tread life makes the costs more than stack up in your favour. In fact, radial treads are likely to last up to three times longer than cross-ply treads.

You should bank on a good quality radial lasting around 5,000 hours in Queensland.

Time, money and productivity – the tyre tread advantage

By selecting the best tyre for your application, you’ll save time and money. Your tyre life will be extended, and your engine won’t be worked quite as hard. For most agricultural applications, a herringbone tread is best. The softer footprint will help your soil produce more crops. Larger tyres tend to give a better traction, too.

However, if traction is not an issue, then a diamond pattern tread may be best.

When buying agricultural tyres, speak with one of our technicians. We’ll consider:

  • The ground they will be used on, and how tread width will impact your production.
  • Power usage, and suggest a tyre to maximise horsepower.
  • Which tyres will enable you to carry heavier loads without the need for higher tyre pressures?

Our aim is to help you produce the most crop with the least effort, prolonging tyre and tractor life. The result is that we match the best tyre for the specific use you have planned for it.

Keeping your family and fleet safely on the road,

Kevin Wood

About the Author

Kevin has been at the forefront of the tyre industry for over 20 years. Kevin's speciality is in industrial and commercial tyres including the management and upkeep of fleets. Kevin has worked with vehicles his whole career from painting, mechanical, suspension and panel beating he has also spent time in the Australia Army as a driver. He has driven all size of vehicles throughout his career so understands the demands placed on drivers.