Lance Unger drives a combine with tracks on it this fall. It came in handy when June monsoons threatened to keep them from getting into the field to harvest wheat, but it also reduces the potential for soil compaction when soils are in good shape, as they are this fall.
How much tracks help reduce compaction has long been a matter of debate. Tire makers trying to compete with tracks have begun offering IF and VF tires, which have more flex and can be operated at lower air pressures. The tires are available for lots of farm implements.
Tire manufacturers say that with IF or VF tires compared to regular tires, farmers can reduce their soil compaction potential by about half compared to regular tires at higher air pressure. They acknowledge that there is still more potential to create soil compaction for IF and VF-type tires compared to running on tracks, but that the new style of tires are a big improvement as far as reducing the potential for soil compaction.
Unger, Carlisle, also equipped his combine with a McDon draper head this year. Still getting the kinks worked out, his dad, Del, says the draper header appealed to them because they believe it feeds material into the combine more evenly. It should reduce the amount of time lost to stopping and waiting for bunches of material to feed through the machine. Soybeans aren't the easiest to run in places this year, primarily where green stems are showing up. Any time you can gain an edge on keeping moving and avoiding plugging is a good move, Del says.