After being involved in a family farming business, Neil Milligan set up a contracting business in 2003 offering slurry and muck spreading, ploughing, drilling, and spraying to local farms near Castle Douglas.

“I was doing everything for a while, but I now just focus on spraying and drilling, which has enabled me to be able to work from October to March in New Zealand,” he said.

He uses a Knight tractor mounted 24m multi-fold sprayer, with a 1600-litre rear tank and 1500-litre front tank. This is preferable to a trailed, or self-propelled machine because much of the land he operates on is tricky to access and traverse.

“I used a smaller 12m on my own land, but when I started contracting, I chose a mounted Gambetti 24m because the wider width seemed in higher demand. I soon realised I needed to update my tractor and I subsequently chose a Knight Gull-Wing 24m, before moving on to the multi-fold.”

The local land varies from pasture to hillside and spraying such variety can prove tricky at times. Grip is of paramount importance, which is why Mr Milligan has recently invested in a full set of new Continental TractorMaster tyres. “I hadn’t planned to change the tyres until the end of 2021, but opted to change them last year because I was losing grip and didn’t want to get in to trouble with a full payload on slippery land.”

Mr Milligan was visited by Richard Hutchins, Continental’s agricultural tyre specialist, when he bought the tyres. He weighed the tractor and advised on the optimum running pressure for the spraying work Mr Milligan was using his Valtra 213 tractor for.

“It was really encouraging to have a representative from the manufacturer actually make a farm visit and I appreciated the insight he was able to offer,” said Neil.

Read more: Two tyre sizes added to Continental's CombineMaster range

The total weight of tractor, sprayer and full tanks is 13 tonnes and Mr Hutchins was able to calculate the optimum running pressures using the Continental Agriculture TireTech app. This mobile app calculated pressure for load, based on technical data about the tyre and where the load is apportioned on the tractor.

“I used to have the tyres at the same pressure for spraying and drilling. Meeting Richard showed me that I needed a lower pressure in the rear tyres when drilling to help reduce soil compaction and higher to carry the weight of the sprayer more efficiently,” he added.

The rear tyres are run at 16 psi when drilling and 21psi for spraying, whereas the fronts are set to 22. “This adjustment is helping the tyres to wear more evenly. I do a lot of road work because I cover a 15 miles radius from my farm and Mr Hutchins advised that, if the rear tyres were running at too low a pressure, I would risk damaging the side walls.”

By operating at a pressure that is better suited to the road but low enough to reduce soil compaction he has found both the tractor and the sprayer operate more efficiently.

The TractorMaster has been developed to run at low pressures safely. A new bead construction that uses a single wire helps the tyre to grip the rim. Some tractor tyres are manufactured with multiple wires to make the bead. However, this causes weak spots where the wires join.

Mr Milligan also has greater confidence on the road and in the field. The new tyres, set to the correct pressures, make the Valtra more stable on the road and provide greater grip when he is spraying.

“I can do 20 miles fully loaded towing a 4000-litre bowser and I feel very comfortable driving on country lanes – even some of the rougher ones.”

When spraying, the front and rear linkage suspension of the Valtra and the tyres help to keep the boom steady. The tyres have an additional nylon layer known as N.flex that helps maintain the roundness during and after heavy use.

Tyres heat up during use and when parked overnight can form flat spots – N.flex is designed to reduce the occurrence of flat spots by helping maintain the shape of the tyre.

“The tyres run smoothly and are wearing well. I have covered about 500 hours doing mostly spraying work and the tyres still look as good as new,” concluded Neil.