One of the biggest headaches for farmers with center pivot irrigation systems is having to "babysit" the pivot. Among the things irrigators have to watch for is flat tires. This can be a big mess, as well as expensive to repair. Someone will have to go into the field and change the tire, all done in extremely wet field conditions.
Living in Nebraska, home to much of the center pivot industry, I see many pivots on my travels throughout the state. While my own family's farm is in the rolling hills of eastern Nebraska and we do not have center pivots, you don't have to go far in our area to see those galvanized towers slowing creeping across fields, providing moisture to crops growing underneath them.
After writing about center pivot issues in recent years, I noticed some pivots had different-looking tires. Most of these alternative tires looked to be mainly plastic, metal or solid rubber to eliminate flat air-filled tires in the middle of the field during the growing season.
I wondered if any center pivot manufacturers made these types of tires or if all these tires were strictly after-market type of items. I guess I now have an answer.
Valley Irrigation recently introduced the Valley Revolution airless tires. The design is a durable tire similar to those used on forklifts which eliminate problems with flats, according to press release from Valley.
Matt Ondrejko, vice president of global marketing for Valley, said his company conducted much research on the different types of airless tires. Plastic tires slip on rocky ground and tend to be poor at self-cleaning, while steel tires have no give and can corrode quickly in some field conditions.
"Revolution airless tires from Valley are thick, rubber tires with webbing in the sidewall, between the tread and the wheel, to give it softness and flexibility," Ondrejko said.
Valley states the aperture design provides flexibility over ridges and other obstacles to avoid overloading the drive train of the center pivot. The airless tires will not slip on rocks or other objects in the field.
Another feature of the airless tire would be the non-directional trend. This allows traction while reducing track depth by keeping mud in the wheel track, rather than pushing it out of the track like standard tractor tires.
Ondrejko said most center pivot flats are not noticed until they cause the center pivot to stop, possibility ruining the tire, rim and sometimes the gearbox of the pivot. A flat tire can cost farmers $1,000 to $1,500 and can cause downtime during the irrigation season when the crop needs moisture to maximize yields, he said.
"With these airless tires, irrigators will benefit from longer tire life, while eliminating flats in their fields," he said. "We're confident this tire will last for many years, so confident that the Valley Revolution tire comes with a five-year, full replacement warranty."
More about Valley Revolution airless tire can be found at www.valleyirrigation.com.
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