Nearly every day some new press release pops up in my email inbox, usually several. In the agricultural machinery world most of those announcements use a pretty matter-of-fact style. They generally rely on the newsworthiness of the machine to provide any impact. I guess all the brands think we machinery editors a pretty pragmatic bunch. Maybe we are, and that Jack Webb kind of just-the-facts-ma’am approach from marketing staff saves me time and lets me get to the heart of the matter without sifting through a lot of fluff. It isn’t very often I see any kind of publicity stunt.
But today when I saw the images related to a Mitas Tire announcement, I had to do a double take. Is that really a tractor driving off into the North Atlantic I had to ask myself. Turns out, it is. Partnering with Claas, Mitas fitted an Axos 320 tractor, that had a total gross weight of just over four tonnes, with its newest 1250/50 R32 and 755/50 R30 SFT rubber, then drove it off a boat ramp in the Netherlands.
The whole point of this exercise was to demonstrate the floatation growers can get if they opt for some of Mitas’ largest tires, and, of course, give editors like me some eye catching photos to add a little punch to the whole narrative.
In the press release Mitas then blinded me with science by explaining engineers did some careful calculations using Archimedes’ Principle. (I don’t remember what it is either.) They pencilled out that the 2,157 litres of air in each of the rear and 685 litres in each of the front tires would prevent the Claas from doing a Titanic impersonation and sinking down to Davie Jones’ locker.
In the press release, Pavel Kott, product manager for Mitas agricultural tires, said: “Mitas is focused on what benefits farmers. Flotation tires can not only make a yacht out of farmers’ tractors but it can also bring them higher yields thanks to lower soil compaction caused by flotation tire during field operation.
“It is all about flotation. The combined volume of air in the mounted tires made a 4-ton tractor walk on water. Imagine the gentle distribution of weight over soil when the machine does its day job.”
Soil compaction seems to be on a lot of people’s minds these days. A few years ago no one would even admit it was a problem that existed here. Now we’re seeing implements being demonstrated across the prairies designed to break it up, and tracks competing with ever-improved radial tires designed to prevent it from happening in the first place.
At the U.S. Farm Progress Show, Goodyear proudly displayed what it called the world’s largest ag tire and had a 9R John Deere tractor at its booth fitted with some really big boots, which are now factory options. They didn’t mention whether or not these tires would allow producers to sell their boats and use their tractors to go fishing on the weekends, but the message was a similar one.
And no one is saying growers can entirely expect really big tires to keep their tractors from bogging down in the mud, but they will certainly help keep the tow straps tucked away during wet field conditions.
After all this, I guess I have to say it: If you now use your tractor to troll out and snag a couple of pike from Lake Diefenbaker or some similar place, send me a picture.