Installing combine tracks an easy decision on the farm

Tracks will leave fewer field ruts and cut the ground pressure by more than half.

Looking ahead, the forecast doesn’t show a substantial freeze until December. More rain is on tap for next week. That made our latest big decision relatively easy.

After another 3 inches of rain last week, we ordered tracks for the combine. They should be in this morning, and hopefully ready to go to the field tomorrow.

Looking at the math, we’ve been headed this way for several years. No matter the make of the machine, most of the weight of a combine is on the front axle. Add a 30- to 45-foot head on the front and 300-400 bushels in the hopper, even the largest tire offerings are putting more than 25 psi on the ground.

The combine is probably the worst tool we use for causing compaction. (The high clearance sprayer is in the running as well.) Tracks will cut the ground pressure by more than half. Tracks should also leave fewer ruts.

After looking at a few aftermarket brands, we ended up going OEM, even though we feel there are better riding assemblies on the market. The main reason for this was road speed. By going with the whole package and changing the planetary drives, we will be able to maintain 20 mph road speed.

Many of the aftermarkets are simple to install, they will bolt directly to the existing combine spindle; however, they will only travel 12-14 miles per hour. Since the tracks will be a permanent installation on our machine, efficient travel was near the top of the list.

The other reason for going OEM was cost. If we were to use an aftermarket, we could have achieved acceptable speed, however we would have still had to change drives or install a speed multiplier. Either way it was going to total more.

In our search, we found there are rear tracks running in west central Indiana in the testing phase. We tried to get a hold of them, but the operator using them plans to keep them. Here is a link to the video.

Obviously, the last 10% of land we have to harvest is the wettest. This decision to install tracks has resolved one thing for us: there will be no combine trade this year. We will continue to run our machine another year…or two…

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

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