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How to Choose a Small Farm Tractor

Last Updated: 30.11.20

 

Making a small farm profitable is not an easy task, especially since you need to have the right equipment, including a good tractor, for which you can find more info here. However, by putting in time, passion, and knowledge, you can make your farm thrive, whether we’re talking about fruit crops, veggies, or even animals. 

As we previously mentioned, one way to be successful is to invest in the right gear, and this includes finding a good small tractor to help you with all farming chores. So, if you have questions about choosing the perfect tool, here are some things you should take into account. 

 

Consider the size of your property

You cannot buy the right tractor before assessing the size of your farm or property first. Even though you might consider your farm small, it is still a good idea to know the exact dimensions, including the total dimensions of your crops and fields to make sure you chose the right tractor. 

The size of the land will also help you choose the right accessories for your tractor. Keep in mind that it is important to buy a good product up front than to upgrade it every three years or so because you want to expand your farm and create new opportunities. 

 

What kind of work do you want to do at your farm?

Another thing to take into account before writing that check is to make a list with all the work you have to do on your small farm. Cutting grass, hauling manure, tillage activities, harvesting crops, front-end loader work, and baling hay are only some of the tasks you need to do constantly, so you’ll need the right tool and tractor accessories to keep your farm in excellent shape. 

Don’t forget to also take into account the person who will be driving the tractor and his or her expertise. If you’re not a professional farmer or don’t know much about doing the chores with the help of a tractor, it would be best to leave it to someone who knows more about the topic. 

This way, you will avoid the extra time every task will involve, as well as potential mishaps from not knowing how to properly use the vehicle. 

If you will be using the tractor for difficult menial tasks, you should look for a product that is easy to handle for your body strength. In this case, automatic vehicles are a safer choice. 

 

What are the most common types of tractors on the market?

Depending on the chores you need to take care of, you should invest in a certain type of tractor. Generally speaking, there are three main types of tractors – those for lawn and garden, subcompact and compact tractors, and utility vehicles. Let’s take a closer look at each of them. 

Lawn and garden tractors are the smallest and easiest to handle. They can perform light-duty tasks like mowing grass in large gardens and homesteads or tow small loads. With the right accessories, they can also be used to clean the place from leaves and debris, carry soil or sprinkle fertilizer and insecticides. 

Both subcompact and compact tractors are usually bigger, heavier, and more powerful than regular garden tractors. They can have anywhere from 15 to 50 horsepower and are made for the consumer market. They are comfortable, easy to operate, and are low-maintenance, which makes them the most popular versions on the market, especially for beginner farmers. 

Lastly, utility tractors are designed for heavy-duty operations and are mainly preferred by big commercial farms. They come with many accessories, depending on the type of job you want to perform, and are twice as powerful as subcompact tractors. Thus, they should only be handled by professional farmers. 

 

What characteristics should a small farm tractor have?

Now that you know what’s out there, here is how to choose the right tractor, according to your farm’s specific needs. 

 

Horsepower

Contrary to popular opinions, the size of a vehicle doesn’t always relate to its power. That being said, a tractor can remain small and compact but still be driven by a powerful motor that allows it to perform most tasks around a small farm. As we previously mentioned, most tractors designed for small farms usually display a motor between 15 and 50 horsepower. 

However, tractors below 35 HP may not be able to tackle all the necessary farming tasks like making hay. And, aside from the traditional horsepower (HP), you also have to look at another number, which is Power Takeoff (PTO) horsepower. 

PTO refers to the power available to implements and attachments and is a better measurement unit for a tractor’s capabilities rather than the traditional engine HP. So, how much horsepower do you need? 

The answer to this question depends, again, on the tasks you want to perform around your small farm. A shredder requires about 20 PTO horsepower while a six-foot cutter will need nearly 30 PTO horsepower. 

 

Weight

Some people remain fixated on trivial attributes like the size and weight of a structure but, as we previously mentioned, these aspects don’t necessarily tell you a lot about a tractor’s use on a small farm. 

Generally speaking, you want a well-built product and from high-quality materials that won’t chip, break, bend, or corrode in time, especially when exposed to different weather conditions like prolonged sunlight, rain, heavy winds, and low temperatures. 

However, the tractor’s size and weight are somewhat important as you want an item that will easily fit in your tool shed or a small garage and can be used on all alleys and small roads around the farm, including the ones with trees and bushes on them. 

That being said, although weight is not a decisive factor, you may want to take into account the vehicle’s overall maneuverability and ease of use. A good tractor is compact enough to fit everywhere yet sturdy and easy to drive at the same time. In this case, weight can affect the maneuverability as a heavy tractor will be harder to take a turn, move, or go in reverse. 

 

Lift capacities and front loaders

Often enough, a tractor’s actual lifting limit is nowhere close to the number stated by the manufacturer, which makes it hard to take into account when you’re searching for a small farm vehicle. However, you should take the manufacturer’s weight limit as a guideline and do some testing on your own, preferably without exceeding 80% of the total claimed supported weight. 

That being said, if the producer states that a particular model of a tractor can lift up to 600 pounds, you don’t want to exceed 480-500 pounds to make sure the wheels and the rest of the components won’t break. 

When it comes to accessories, the front loader is the most popular option. We recommend going for a loader that is manufactured by the same company as the tractor to have maximum compatibility and also easily find replacement pieces in case something breaks. 

Don’t forget about the existing trade-off between the actual lift capacity and speed. In other words, if a front loader seems to lift a lot of weight, chances are the cycle time is very slow, which means you’ll reach your destination later. However, bear in mind that tractors are not racing cars or ATVs, so, in this case, it is preferred to put weight above speed. 

 

Resale value

Last but not least, you also have to consider your budget. If you cannot afford to buy a new small farm tractor, there are plenty of second-hand and mildly used vehicles you might want to check. 

In most cases, the used products you’ll find will be sold for a fraction of the cost of a new unit but will have little to no traces of wear because previous owners didn’t take into account the size of their farm or the chores they expected the tractor to perform.

If you’re in the market for a new tractor, you might also want to consider its resale value at a certain point. 

Going for a cheap vehicle might help you get all your farm work done but you won’t be able to resell it for a good price due to its smaller lifespan. Cheap tractors will wear easily and, in most cases, you’ll end up spending a lot of money on replacement pieces, accessories, and repairs. 

 

 

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