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PHOTO: Daniel Johnson
In the back of an open garage bay, behind the slumbering Massey Ferguson 135 and a few random scraps of lumber, that’s where the old rear tires from our John Deere Model 40 sit leaning against a wall, waiting to be given new life in a new use.
It’s a common scenario on farms across the country. Tires wear out, they get replaced and you’re left wondering what to do with the old ones. Of course, you can take them to be recycled, but in many cases that comes with a cost. Isn’t there another way to put them to use (and get them out of the way)?
Well, certainly! Hobby farmers in particular are apt to find all sorts of creative ways to put old tires to use, particularly large ones from the rear wheels of a utility tractor. Sometimes you just need a little inspiration to get you started.
1. Raised Garden Beds
It might not score points with professional landscapers, but tires are often put to use as raised garden beds for flowers and even vegetables. Certainly you can’t get any simpler than laying a tire on the ground, filling it with compost/soil and planting whatever varieties of tulips or coneflowers strike your fancy. The only concern: Substances in tires can pose health risks to humans, and the potential exists for edible plants to absorb these substances as the tire slowly decomposes. My advice? Use these beds for flowers and other non-edible plants.
2. Livestock Feeders
It’s also common for large tires to be put to use as livestock feeders—for example, as a means of holding hay for cattle, helping to prevent the cattle from trampling and wasting the hay. However, be careful when using tires in this manner—if they become damaged or start to degrade, material from the tires (including bits of metal) can mix with the feed and pose a health risk to your livestock.
3. Tire Swings
Here’s the classic use for an old tire. With little more than a strong rope and a stout tree limb, you can have a tire swing in your yard, and even if you never put it to use, a tire swing is a charming, homey visual that makes people smile. Though unless you want to give the impression that you’re obsessed with tire swings, this will only provide a use for one or two tires, and small ones at that—hanging a tractor tire with a four-foot diameter might be a bit much. Perhaps this is a better option for the worn-out front tires of tractors rather than rear tires.
4. Erosion Control
Yes, with a little knowledge and a lot of effort, tires can be used to help control erosion. Experiments have been conducted with burying tires and with building dams out of tires. To build a dam you’d need a large number of them, but if you have access to plenty of old tires and are looking to control erosion in a relatively small area, by all means conduct some research and see if tires can help you.
Have you put old tires to use in creative ways on your farm? Feel free to share your ideas with us.