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Publication helps with tractor ballasting

Proper ballasting can help tractor operators conserve fuel and operate more efficiently.

A new publication from Iowa State University Extension explains the mechanics of measuring ballast to ensure that tractor performance is not hindered by excessive or inadequate weight for the job at hand.

Ballasting Tractors for Fuel Efficiency,PM 2089G, is available to download from the Extension Online Store at

“Too much or too little ballast can adversely affect time spent in the field, tractor engine hours and fuel efficiency,” said ISU Extension ag engineer Mark Hanna. “Excessive ballast can dramatically increase rolling resistance, while insufficient ballast causes wheel slippage.”

Although many larger, modern tractors can display wheel slippage to the operator, this publication also addresses ballasting and tire inflation guidelines for older models, according to Hanna. Small increments of wheel slippage are not visible to the naked eye, and distributing ballast properly between the front and rear axles of the tractor ensures better performance and fuel efficiency. Monitoring tire inflation pressure according to changing weather conditions and soil surfaces is also important.

“Gasoline and diesel fuel account for a significant portion of farm operating costs,” said Dana Petersen, ISU Extension program coordinator. “Making mechanical adjustments to improve a tractor’s fuel conservation and performance will help to minimize those costs.”

The publication is part of a series of farm energy conservation and efficiency educational materials being developed through the Farm Energy Conservation and Efficiency educational initiative. The purpose of the initiative is to increase farmers’ awareness of farm energy conservation practices.

Sponsored by a grant from the Iowa Energy Center, it is also helping farmers explore alternatives to reduce farm energy demand and to improve their farms' overall profitability in a rapidly changing energy environment.

To find other publications in the series, go to

TAGS: Equipment
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