AG Tire Talk discusses carbon sequestration

Modern Tire Dealer has partnered with AG Tire Talk to provide answers to insightful questions agricultural tire dealers have about agricultural tire technology. This is the next part of our ongoing series designed to help agricultural tire retailers better connect with their customers. A trending question, followed by answers, appears every two months in our commercial tire dealer section. For full answers, go to www.agtiretalk.com. (You can access the latest episode of the AG Tire Talk podcast here.)

Question: Carbon dioxide is released in large quantities by tillage or ploughing. No-till farming practices help prevent the release of carbon dioxide. Reduced tillage also improves soil health. As the federal government pushes new environmental standards, farmers are now being paid to reduce tillage. How can tire technology and inflation management help?


Dave Paulk, Manager, Technical Field Service, BKT USA: In the carbon economy, farmers can be offered opportunities to sell carbon credits – and thus generate more income – through conservation practices. Farmers can cultivate their soil to increase carbon stocks. Some of the ways are to minimize soil disturbance, maximize living roots and biodiversity, and maximize soil cover.

When direct sowing, the soil must be protected from compaction. Soil compaction can affect water and fertilizer absorption, hamper plant root growth, and other things. Soil protection can be achieved by supplying the correct air pressure to tractors and implements. Enough air must be used to support the weight of the equipment. However, using too much air in tires can cause compaction and reduced crop yields.

Using the right tires for the application helps as the farmer can then distribute the weight of their equipment over a larger area with the correct air pressure. Radials can be run at lower air pressures to reduce ground pressure and reduce soil compaction. Increased Flexion (IF) and Very High Flexion (VF) technology can be used to reduce soil compaction as they can carry the same weight as a standard tire at lower pressure levels.

Harm-Hendrik Lange, Customer Solutions Engineer, Continental Commercial Specialty Tires: A carbon-conscious operation keeps as much organic matter attached to the soil as possible. However, carbon sequestration is not a panacea. Farmers are switching to more conservative working styles such as strip seeding and no-till.

Strip-Till is minimal tillage of six to eight inch wide strips that leave the area between rows undisturbed. No-till farmers plant in former growing areas.

All farming implements are heavy. But as we have learned, soil compaction can be combated. Strip-tail and no-till farming reduce the number of passes through a field, but the reduction becomes irrelevant without considering the impact of tires.

As a general rule, most high aspect ratio, high inflated tires leave a compaction mark. In contrast, most low-aspect-ratio, lower-inflated tires increase the tire’s contact patch. Therefore, selecting the right tires for your customer’s application is key to success.

Equipment running on worn tires will require additional fuel to maintain traction. More fuel means more emissions.

Rick Harris, Regional Sales Manager, Global Rubber Industries Pvt. GmbH.: The weight of agricultural machinery is inevitably increasing. This is detrimental to productive agriculture. It is very important to recommend the right tires to maintain important ground characteristics.

To reduce soil compaction, farmers should use tires that cover a larger area or use multiple tires of the same type. The air pressure in a tire is important in order to create a large contact area and thus a large contact area. This can be done with a standard lower pressure tire or with a modern VF or IF tire.

A tire’s flotation capability creates a vehicle’s ability to almost float on the ground, thereby reducing the pressure exerted on the ground.

Greg Gilland, Vice President, Global Agriculture, Maxam Tire North America: The US Geological Survey defines carbon sequestration as the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. It is a method of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with the aim of reducing global climate change.

Soils can give off or absorb carbon dioxide. The overturning of the topsoil during ploughing, planting or fertilizing mixes underground carbonaceous molecules with atmospheric oxygen. The challenge for the future of agriculture is how we mitigate or reduce the impact of carbon emissions in our daily operations.

The practice of plowing or tillage after harvest is thought to be responsible for increased gas emission from the soil. When the right tire is used on a vehicle driving a controlled path, farmers can avoid row crossing – resulting in less soil damage, improved crop yields and reduced CO2 emissions. A larger tire contact patch results in improved performance and reduces ground pressure, resulting in a reduction in carbon emissions.

David Graden, Market Operations Manager, Agriculture, Michelin North America Inc.: Agricultural carbon sequestration comes at us like a freight train. It is inevitable that farmers will be strongly encouraged or even forced to comply with sequestration in the years to come. It is for this reason that we must pay attention to the methods of carbon sequestration and the tires that play such a central role.

When we talk about reducing soil disturbance, we mean conserving pockets of space where air and nutrients reside. In turn, plants will grow much faster and healthier for higher yields. Additionally, less soil destruction means carbon gas stays trapped in those air pockets, providing extra nutrients to the plants. In addition, due to larger tire footprints, traction and fuel economy improve.

All indicators tell us that carbon sequestration is here to stay. In fact, for those who are able and act quickly enough, there is a huge benefit in helping your customers prepare for the future.

Blaine Cox, National Product Manager, Agriculture, Golf and Turf, Yokohama Off-Highway Tires America Inc.: Carbon sequestration is very important to American farmers because carbon is the main component of soil organic matter and carbon sequestration is emerging as a potential source of income for them.

This is the time for farmers to position themselves to seize future opportunities and be ready to stay ahead of potential regulations.

There are two important issues when it comes to tires and carbon management. First, a large footprint and the lowest reasonable air pressure for the machine load and speed are required to reduce soil compaction. The second is resilience to crop residue damage in no-till, reduced-till fields. Stalk mashers and other mechanical means of crushing residue really help, but tires need to be able to withstand a lot of abuse, especially with today’s extra-stiff stalks.

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