Choosing the right tractor for your land can be a difficult decision, because tractor manufacturers are not always consistent in how they classify them and your needs might change at any given time. Obviously a land owner with an acre or less probably isn’t going to need a large tractor, but for those living outside the city or on large amounts of land, a tractor is an essential tool. Selecting the right one can make all the difference in the successful operation and maintenance of your property.
How Do I Choose the Right Size Tractor?
The size and landscape of your property plays a large role in the size of tractor you will need. Tractors can generally be classified in four categories which are purpose, weight, size, and horsepower. If you only want a tractor for working a small plot of land then you will choose something more akin to a lawn mower. If you have hundreds of acres to deal with, you need to go big, and possibly very big.
There are also All Purpose Vehicles (APVs), which you might want to research independently of this article. These aren’t quite tractors but can perform some of the same functions on a more limited basis.
Lawn and Garden
Lawn and Garden tractors tend to have around one or two cylinder engines, weigh 500-1000 pounds, and have up to 25 horsepower. This group could also be considered riding lawn mowers with hitches. They are made mostly for mowing lawns, so are perfect for small property owners. They might come with attachments such as a spreader, plow, dump cart, blade, sprayer, snow blower, cultivator, or disk. These generally are not meant for large field or arena work but will work well for edgings and smaller lawns of a few acres.
These are a bit larger than lawn and garden tractors, weighing in around 1400-2000 pounds, and tend to be up to 45 horsepower and built with 2-4 cylinder diesel engines. This type of tractor will have a hitch which is often low to the ground but with better ground clearance of 12 inches or more, making them easy to use and also to learn on. They can pull fairly large implements such as discs and manure spreaders. They are helpful for cleaning runs and pens.
Now we’re starting to talk about the big boys. These tractors may be up to 3000 pounds, with 3-5 cylinder diesel motors of 85 horsepower. They will have a sturdier hitch capable of hauling more heavy equipment like a loader, scoop, or post-hole digger. They also have much larger fuel tanks reaching 30 gallons meant for all day (or multi-day) use. These are meant for large properties with horse arenas or vast areas of land. If you are torn between a large or small tractor, this is probably the one for you.
Farm tractors are the true big boys, maxing in at around 6000 pounds. They tend to be up to 450 horsepower with 4-6 cylinder diesel engines. They have a much larger hitch rating meant to haul true commercial farming implements. They may also have multiple hydraulic hookups set at multiple angles (front, rear, and side), very large tires, and a fuel tank of 250 gallons or more. They also tend to have a comfortable cab with all the amenities, meant to ride in all day long much the same as you would find in a luxury car.
What Size Tractor Do I Need?
This really depends on the size of your property and your needs for the tractor. You should begin by asking yourself, what is my property size? What will I be using my tractor for on a daily basis (if you don’t think you’ll need it on a daily basis make a note of that as well)? Is budget a factor? These are all important factors to consider before making this investment.
For a Small Farm
For small farms you probably don’t need anything larger than a lawn and garden or compact tractor. It’s never a bad idea to go bigger if you think you’ll need it, but chances are you won’t. It all depends on the implements you will need and the hauling capacity, but if you are towing a single disc behind a true farm tractor once per week, that will be a waste of resources.
For Less Than 100 Acres
For an average-sized farm you can choose between the utility or farm tractor. This will probably depend mostly on your needs: the land, the purpose, and the tasks you need to undertake. Keep in mind also that it’s never a bad idea to have a lawn and garden or compact tractor on hand for smaller jobs even if you do have a larger tractor. You won’t be able to tackle smaller tasks with a farm tractor so for edgings and other purposes it might be wise to consider two different types, small and large. Again, determine your needs and budget before making this decision.
For 100 Acres or More
If you are farming 100 acres or more, the farm tractor is the obvious choice for you. Think about your implements, acreage to cover, horsepower, gas tank, comfort of the cab you may be riding in all day, and many other factors. Again, you might also want a smaller tractor for the little jobs, but there is no way to get this job done with a lawn and garden tractor.
If you are in doubt about what size of tractor you should purchase, always consult a professional who can help guide you in this important decision. Explain what your plans are: tractor use, land size, budget, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask questions: it’s what they are here for. Your choice of tractor will go a long way in determining how successful you are, and happy farming!