Answer: False. Tracks and properly inflated tires carrying the same load cause a similar amount of compaction, Reeder says.

One Ohio research project compared a half-track on a combine with several tire sizes and pressures. The average ground pressure under the track was around 10 psi, but it created soil compaction similar to tires inflated at 26-34 psi, Reeder says. Why? Pressure under the flexible track is not uniform, peaking under the front and rear axles, he explains.

In another Ohio study, dual tires correctly inflated to 6 psi resulted in slightly less compaction than tracks with an average pressure of about 6 psi. But the same duals over-inflated to 24 psi caused significantly more compaction than the tracks. Tracks do have some advantages over tires, Reeder adds, such as a longer, narrower contact area and less slippage. Tracks also have excellent flotation and no “power hop,” DeJong-Hughes says.