Tractor tires are filled with calcium chloride solutions for a variety of reasons. This dense, widely available, and competitively priced salt solution can add approximately 30% to the weight of water and lower the freezing point of the solution well below that of tap water. There are three main benefits to filling tractor tires with liquids, such as calcium chloride: increased traction, reduced center of gravity, and prevention of rear tire lift. Calcium chloride is an effective way to add ballast to a tractor.
It weighs 11.3 pounds per gallon, making it a good choice for getting the most weight out of your tractor. It is also freeze-resistant to minus 58 F. However, it is highly corrosive and must be used with air tubes in the tires to prevent steel wheel corrosion. Additionally, if a tire breaks and causes liquid ballast to leak, the salt is not toxic to animals but can damage any plants that grow on the affected soil.
Wheel weights are another option for adding ballast to a tractor. These counterweighted plates are mounted on a tractor tire and can be just as effective as water. Tractor dealers are best placed to advise on the exact amount of ballast needed, the right formula for the local climate, and the best way to protect the life of your tractor's wheels and tires. When removing ballast, whether wet or dry, it is important to maintain the proper weight distribution of the tractor on the front and rear axles.
John Deere provides a table that describes the weight of liquid per tire for a 40% fill and a 75% fill. Water weighs 8.3 pounds per gallon, which limits the amount of weight you can add to the tractor compared to other liquid ballast options. When bucket loaders and other accessories tend to take front tires off the ground, liquid ballast added to those tires can be particularly useful. Polyurethane foam is another option for filling tractor tires with ballast.
The tire is not punctured when using this method, but it is not possible to make future tire pressure adjustments. Additionally, heavy machinery (such as a forklift) is needed to move, replace, or adjust foam-filled tires. Beet juice is also an option for tire ballast that has fewer disadvantages than other forms of ballast.