Ballasting Safety Information

Why Ballast?

Having enough ballasts (weights) at the rear helps counterbalance a load at the front and keeps the tractor's tires on the ground. This decreases the chance that your tractor will tip over. Adding rear weight also boosts the performance at the front. The most powerful part of the tractor is its rear drive system. Therefore, having enough weight to push down the rear tires lets you take full advantage of all the tractor's power. (With four-wheel drive, the improvement in traction is even more noticeable!)

Properly ballasting greatly lengthens the service life of your tractor. By taking weight off the front axle and shifting it rearward, the entire frame and both axles bear the stress of a load, not the front axle alone. Without ballast to the rear, it's very easy to overload the front axle. At first, this doesn't appear to have an effect; but over time, it shows in damage to the transmission, engine and, of course, the axle itself. Buying a ballast box is a small price to pay compared to the repairs you'll have to do down the road without one.

How to Ballast

It's hard to measure precisely how many pounds of a material are in your bucket (even dry sand in a 61-in. bucket can weigh 900 lb.), the safest option is to use enough ballast weight to counterbalance the maximum load you expect to lift.

There are three places on the tractor where you can add weight:

  • At the rear, with a ballast box
  • On the wheels, with wheel weights
  • Inside the tires, with fluid

There are pros and cons to each. Here are some brief points to keep in mind as you decide between these three methods:

A ballast box is the most flexible option. One is easy to attach and detach, and the weight can be adjusted simply by adding or removing material inside the box. (Keep in mind that the farther back the box is, the better leverage it has.)

If you are continually required to use ballast, then wheel weights may be a good way to supplement weight in a ballast box. They also are good way to increase traction.

If a large amount of ballast is required, consider filling the tires with fluid to make them heavier. (Calcium chloride is recommended because it will not freeze.) This is an excellent way to add ballast but has the drawback of being a more or less permanent addition to your tractor.

Before you try any of these methods, please consult your John Deere dealer. They will be happy to assist you in making the right choices and making sure your tractor is as safe and productive as it can be.

Rule of thumb:

  • 60/40 rear/front weight ratio for ground-engaging work
  • 50/50 rear/front weight ratio for loader work

Ballasting Safety Tips

  • Ballasted machine may become unstable when attachment is raised. Always drive slowly over uneven ground and when turning with raised attachment.
  • Determine amount of ballast required for each operation. Ballast used for one operation may be wrong for another. Ballast for stability, steering control and traction.
  • Use no more ballast than required and remove ballast when it is no longer needed.
  • Ballast should be limited by machine and tire capacities. Each tire has a maximum inflation pressure and a maximum load capacity which must not be exceeded.
  • Additional front ballast may be required for road travel with rear-mounted attachments.
  • See your attachment operator's manual for ballasting requirements.