By Brandy Harrison
MOOREFIELD Jake Kraayenbrink may have just the thing for farmers forced into wet fields as the days get shorter: a tire inflation and deflation system that can keep heavy equipment from tearing up the field.
“Theres nothing more frustrating for a farmer than not being able to get into a field and get a job done,” says the Moorefield hog farmer and owner of AgriBrink.
The three-part AgriBrink system an in-cab control box, air compressor and tanks, and hose and valve setup for air delivery to each tire is similar to duals, which spread weight over a greater area to reduce yield-robbing compaction. Its like using a snowshoe versus a boot in deep snow, says Kraayenbrink.
“If a two-year-old stands on your foot, thats not too bad. But put skates on. What happens then? Its the same approach with the soil. The bigger the area you spread weight over, the less damage you do. The smaller the area, the more the tire sinks,” he says, adding the University of Ottawa wants to do a two-year study on soil health impact.
For manure tankers, self-propelled sprayers, balers, or tractors that drive on the road and field, farmers just flip a toggle switch in the cab to deflate or inflate the tires, depending on speed and weight, which can increase tire footprint by 60 per cent. It takes only 30 seconds and farmers do it on-the-go.
Adjustments between field and road slow tire wear, and the new control unit will have a GPS data log to track driving speed and pressure to bolster tire warranty.
It can also save about 14 per cent in fuel, says Kraayenbrink. “A deflated tire is like a balloon full of water that floats over the ground,” he says.
Similar technology in Europe is slower and had no on-the-ground support in North America, leading Kraayenbrink to team up with OMAFRA corn specialist Greg Stewart, his truck mechanic Steve Bailey, and engineer Maurice Veldhuis, to adapt a trucking industry system to speed up deflation by releasing air at the tire, not a central hub.
Fresh off a trip to Europe where his system generated a buzz, Kraayenbrink hopes that after four years, Ontario farmers are done kicking the tires. Eight farmers are on board, including Baden dairy farmer Kees Hogendoorn.
“Its just one flick of a switch. The tires get twice as big and you dont see the tracks in the field as much,” says Hogendoorn, who installed the AgriBrink system when he bought a manure tanker four years ago.
A four-tire system costs between $10,000 and $12,000, but farmers are eligible for a cost-share through Growing Forward 2.
Kraayenbrink can hardly believe the doors that have opened, from free tires and industry help to his family pitching in. He and his wife, Betty, have 12 children, aged six to 26.
“If it wasnt for my family, I wouldnt have the time to do it all. Its just been a whole lot of wows.”