Should you or should you not liquid ballast the tires of your Kubota tractor? Liquid ballasting is the process of filling your tractor tires with liquid. Although it may sound strange to some, ballasting has been done for decades.
It seems that the concept started when farmers were trying to find an economical way to increase their tractor’s traction as well as its so-called drawbar pull. Less slippage on the rear wheels saves fuel and it permits the tractor to pull larger, heavier, riggings. More crops can be planted in a day lowering per-acre input costs. It also saves on purchasing expensive drive tires. Generally speaking, tractor maintenance costs are also reduced.
Reasons To Ballast Tires
• Stability. Ballasting can achieve what no-clamp on, hung, or attached metal weights cannot do, present the lowest center of gravity on the tractor. As you drive the tractor, the weight of the liquid stays at the bottom of the tire. The driver will experience a marked improvement in the solid feeling handling because there is more weight to the tractor as well as more sluggishness when the tractor moves and therefore absorbs the bumps.
• Much Better Traction. Since the lower surface of the tire is pushing down on the ground, the tire leaves better attraction of the tread on it. The contact area does not get any larger, but there is more weight bearing down. The amount of torque necessary to move the tractor or perform more work drops to just about zero. Thus, the more weight of the tires, the more traction.
• Reduced Tire Wear. It is not that difficult to wear out the tires on a Kubota tractor. Significant loss of traction will lower the tread life of the tires. That’s especially so if you’re using turf or R3 tires.
• Increased Safety. One achieves better operating safety when there is better traction and improved stability. A tire slip at the wrong time can be deadly and attempting to raise a bucket full of heavy material could lift the back end of the tractor. Liquid ballasting can prevent these issues.
• Low Cost. Liquid ballasting tires is not expensive. There are a number of liquid ballasting agents including water, calcium chloride, ethylene glycol antifreeze, propylene glycol antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, methanol, beet juice, and polyurethane foam or flat fill. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
• Very Easy To Do. It is a snap to ballast tires. The whole process takes less than 30 minutes.
(Next time: How to ballast tires)