Why You Need a Ballast Box For Your Tractor

What is ballast?

Ballasting your tractor refers to adding or removing extra weight from your equipment to accommodate horsepower imbalances. Essentially, it is counterweight used to optimize load distribution. In addition to improving overall safety and stability, adding ballast gets the power of your tractor to the ground and improves productivity. Adding ballast is necessary to get the horsepower you paid for.

Why do you need ballast?

Ballast protects your tractor’s front axle by using weighted implements. It is an effective way to keep all four wheels of your tractor on the ground and prevent it from flipping over. Ballast improves traction by balancing weight evenly between the front and back end of your tractor, while minimizing soil compaction. Not having enough ballast, or weight, to balance your tractor results in high slip rates, meaning it takes more time and more fuel to get the job done. Essentially, ballast is key to getting the most out of your tractor.

Key benefits:

  • Stability
  • Safety
  • Power
  • Productivity
  • Efficiency
  • Smoother ride

What kind of ballast should you use?

There are several methods of ballasting in addition to the ballast box, such as liquid ballast, suitcase weights or attachments. Many times, people use a combination to reach the weight their machine requires. A ballast box is one of the most efficient and cost-effective options. A ballast box is easy to remove when switching between jobs and adds the weight you need without taking up too much space. Filling tires with a liquid ballast is not recommended as it reduces the ability of the tire to flex and causes corrosion of the rim. Similarly, using an attachment is not best option either, as you run the risk of damaging it. On the other hand, suitcase weights are another good option. They are individual pieces of cast iron that, because of their design, don’t have to be bolted onto the tractor.  

What do you put in your ballast box?

Depending on the weight you need, you can use any heavy material such as sand, gravel, dirt, rocks, steels plates, cement or concrete as filler.

Calculating ballast weight

The first step to calculating ballast is reading the owner’s manual of your tractor which will list the minimum amount of weight you need. Each model has different weights and limits; it is important to use no more or no less than what is recommended. Ballast also changes based on the project and the attachment. The main objective is to limit the wheel slip rate to 10-15%.

Calculate wheel slip:

(10 tire revolutions with load) – (10 tire revolutions without load) x100/ (10 tire revolutions with load)

General weight ratios:

  • 40/60 front/rear for groundwork
  • 50/50 front/rear ratio for loader work

You will know if there is too little ballast if there is excessive wheel slip, power loss due to churning soil, tire wear, fuel waste and overall lower productivity.

Contact your local 21st Century Equipment dealer for more information or for help calculating ballast for your machine.

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