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Farmers weigh tracks vs. tires

Equipment track vs tires

Farm machinery dealers say tracks on equipment have become a more popular choice as farmers look for ways to combat soil compaction. 

SEDALIA, Mo. — When it comes to buying new farm machinery, farmers have a number of choices to make, including whether to go with tracks or tires.

Several factors go into the decision, including cost, type of operation and how to best address soil compaction issues.

Greg Zurliene, with Sydenstricker Nobbe Partners John Deere dealers, says tracks have grown in popularity as farmers look to reduce compaction issues.

“There’s been a big surge in that,” he says. “Especially here in Missouri, compaction’s always been a big deal.”

SN Partners has locations in Missouri and Illinois, and Zurliene says the decisions are about evenly split between tracks and tires.

“It’s probably split 50-50 right now,” he says.

Newer, bigger equipment can increase compaction concerns, and Zurliene says a lot of the farmers going with tracks have bigger machinery.

Regardless of whether farmers have tracks or tires, he says avoiding compaction can have significant impacts for crops later on.

“What’s going on in the field this fall is going to determine what’s going on in the spring with soil,” he says.

Zurliene says there is one other benefit to having tracks on equipment.

“One thing, you’re never going to have a flat tire,” he says with a smile.

However, when it comes to the forage and livestock sector, Zurliene says conventional tires are still overwhelmingly the choice for producers.

As for the overall farm machinery picture, Zurliene says his company continues to work through supply chain challenges. Sometimes an item might not be available at one dealer, but another location might have it. Machinery not in the system at any location can be ordered, but it’s probably a six month or more wait, he says.

While these delays may be facts of life at the moment, Zurliene says farmers are still looking for quality, service support and technology that can help their bottom line.

“Buyers are always going to buy good quality,” he says. “People are buying service. Service and support are the top; technology is number two.”

CLAAS head of sales and marketing Daryl Theis says a lot of people are looking to buy new equipment right now.

“Certainly combines are in huge demand right now,” he says. “Tractors as well.”

A large percentage of CLAAS combines are sold with tracks right now, about 50 to 60%, Theis said.

“People are trying to manage their soil for compaction,” he said.

Farmers will continue to make those decisions about tires and tracks, as well as other technology like artificial intelligence and automatic settings, as demand remains strong for farm machinery, Theis says. He says demand is tied to crop prices and farm profits.

“Obviously they are correlated to commodity prices, corn, beans, alfalfa prices,” he said. “Now’s the time to upgrade.”

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Ben Herrold is Missouri field editor, writing for Missouri Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.

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