Managing Wheel Track Problems

When irrigating with a center pivot, one of the biggest challenges is track management – making sure your machines can keep moving over different terrains and soil conditions.

“If not addressed proactively, problematic wheel ruts could cause many in-season headaches,” said Brad Dunbar, regional manager at Lindsay Corporation. “Common problems include stuck machines, flat tires, track erosion, added stress on the pivot drive train, damage to other equipment in field operations and extra work to mitigate tracks.”

To address tracking problems, Dunbar recommends first taking a look at the sprinkler setup on the pivot. 

“It’s one of the easiest first steps,” he said. “Growers should inspect their system to find out if the pressure regulators are working properly, if the sprinklers near the tower are deflecting water into the wheel track, if the span drains are working properly or if the sprinkler package is worn or not properly sized for the soil type or terrain.”

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Dunbar said growers with chronic tracking problems might want to consider changing from traditional bias tires to NFTrax – an airless wheel assembly that is compatible with most brands of pivots. This Lindsay exclusive:

  • Eliminates flat tires
  • Eliminates downtime
  • Reduces wheel track depth – keeping ruts to a minimum
  • Adapts to obstructions and rough terrain

“The NFTrax has worked very well to eliminate or reduce many wheel track problems,” Dunbar said. “Its revolutionary design provides incredible traction and consistent performance.”

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Another option, Dunbar said, is radial tires, which also are becoming very popular in the irrigation market. Radial tires feature:

  • A wide, flat profile for improved flotation and footprint
  • Low air pressure for less compaction and rutting
  • A heavy load rating, even at lower pressures
  • Stronger tread face and sidewall

For more information about solutions that may help with your tracking problems, talk to your local Zimmatic dealer or visit