Reducing Compaction

Tires are a key contributor to soil compaction and rut formation.

What is soil compaction?


Soil compaction is one of the principal soil damage processes: it is caused by increasingly heavy agricultural machines passing over it, often in difficult climatic conditions.

Compaction is linked to the very nature of the soil, its water content, types of crop and the load applied to the surface.  Repeated passes by agricultural equipment creates soil compaction and shear.

The economic impact of soil compaction is significant: decrease in agronomical yield, risk of development of disease and a need to do regeneration work such as plowing and/or de-compaction which consume considerable fuel and time.

What is rut formation?

A rut is a longitudinal deformation of the soil characterized by a deep recess when run over by machines. Rut formation is extensive on muddy ground.

The consequences are catastrophic for agronomical development: nothing grows in a rut so it represents a net loss of yield.

Ruts encourage water stagnation which can asphyxiate plants and encourage the development of disease.


Ruts also mean agricultural machines consume more energy.

The depth of a rut is similar to a “step” that an agricultural tire needs to constantly climb. This results in increased fuel consumption.

A field with a lot of ruts has to be reconditioned. In this case, soil regeneration work has to be carried out, using up time and fuel.

A tire in direct contact with the ground provides a solution that helps to limit compaction and rut formation.

In this field, the quality of an agricultural tire lies in its ability to carry very heavy loads at very low pressure. In fact, the pressure in the tire is close to the mean pressure exerted on the soil.  (E.g.: If the pressure in a tire is 14.5 psi - the pressure exerted on the soil by the tire will be around 1Lbs/Sq.In)

Therefore, the higher the tire pressure the greater the pressure on the soil with more extensive compaction and rut formation.

Soil compaction is amplified by wheel slip: The tire's tractive capability is therefore fundamental to limit this damage.

Michelin recommendations

Michelin® develops agricultural tires that enable soil compaction to be considerably reduced and the traction capability of various machines improved.

Recommendation No. 1: Choose Radial rather than Bias technology

Already widely used in the automobile and transport sector, radial tire technology has demonstrated its advantages in the world of agriculture. Compared with Bias technology, Radial technology helps to reduce compaction and increases machine traction capability thanks to:

  • the ability to carry heavy loads with lower pressure.
  • a wide footprint surface that enables better distribution of the load on the ground with more tread blocks to grip and improve traction.

Recommendation No. 2: Opt for wide and “large volume” series

The objective of “wide” and “large volume” tires is to reduce pressure for the same load and provide a better level of traction, at the same time retaining the same external diameter and rolling circumference as a “standard” tire.

The same tractor originally equipped with standard tires  can be fitted with wide or large volume tires.  Michelin has developed wide and large volume series tires: 

E.g.: For a 200 hp tractor with a load of 3,900 lbs per tire at the front and 8,800 lbs per tire at the rear with a maximum speed of 25 mph on the road.  Original equipment:


Michelin AGRIBIB

Michelin OMNIBIB



Front pressure

14.5 psi

11.6 psi

10.1 psi

8.7 psi

Rear pressure

23.2 psi

17.4 psi

17.4 psi

14.5 psi

On average, compared with the Michelin AGRIBIB the pressure in Michelin OMNIBIBs and Michelin MULTIBIBs  is at least 20%  lower and the pressure in Michelin MACHXBIBs is on average 38% lower. 

Recommendation No. 3 Opt for Michelin Ultraflex Technologies

Thanks to MICHELIN Ultraflex technology, the optimization of agronomical yield starts at the level of the tire. The secret? An innovative, particularly tough casing, which allows for greater flexion.

Result: tires with MICHELIN Ultraflex technology can carry heavy loads even at low pressure (1), regardless of the work speed (2).

And this is not all: the flexible structure of this casing generates a greater surface imprint which, in turn, increases traction capability.

  • You save time and fuel;
  • You preserve the soil;
  • You increase your agronomical yield.