For smallholders, buying a tractor, even a compact one, is a huge decision. Therefore, it is vital that you are sure that the tractor you buy is ideal for you and your land. This is a brief guide to the considerations you should keep in mind when making this purchase.
The power of your tractor can be affected by multiple factors so it is important to be sure that your chosen tractor can cope with the tasks you want it for. Sloping land will need a higher horse-power to make it up the hills. The size of the land is also an important because a very small tractor will take ages to mow or till a large field so a larger tractor will be more efficient.
The ideal horse-power for your tractor will also depend on which attachments you want to pair it with, as well as how much power is used by the PTO. The attachments available from Farm Tech Supplies all have a horse-power range required to run them, which can be anywhere from 12-70 HP. It is important to pick a tractor with this in mind. One should remember that the gross engine horse-power only represents the power of the tractor with nothing attached to it, so this may seem very high. The net figure includes engine-related accessories, but combining this with the horse-power at the PTO will give you a good idea of the power your tractor is capable of.
Most tractors can be fitted with different types of tyre, but it makes sense to pick a tractor with the tyres which will suit you best rather than having to purchase alternatives which can be costly. Agricultural tyres have a very deep tread so they provide excellent grip, but can tear up the ground and give a rather bumpy ride on the roads. Turf tyres are exactly the opposite, causing very little damage to the turf with the wider profile. But this also means there is less grip and that they will not function so well on slopes or other slippery ground. Industrial tyres are a happy mix of the two, with better grip than the turf tyre, but a shallower tread than the agricultural tyre.
Hydraulics, Linkage and PTO
The majority of modern tractors will have a PTO, but this is something to check, as almost all of our compact tractor attachments require a PTO connection to run. You will also need to make sure that the tractor has a standard 3-point linkage, otherwise most machines cannot be attached to it.
Fewer machines need hydraulics but having hydraulic spools on your tractor can be a good investment for diversifying your collection of attachments. Trailers, such as the Winton or D W Tomlin Tipping Trailer require a single valve. The Winton Hydraulic Side-Shift Flail Mower needs a double-acting spool to function, while the Winton Verge Flail will need four outlets for two double-acting spools.
There are of course attachments to do the jobs of a loader, such as lifting and excavating, but it may be cheaper to purchase a tractor which already has its own loader in the long run.
The transmission type is a decision which should be based on several things. A hydrostatic transmission is as close to an automatic as a tractor can be, and is ideal for jobs that need you to change direction frequently, as there will be less wear on the clutch disc. This is because the gears do not need changing, however this is also at a cost of power to the PTO which is usually significantly less than the engine HP. A manual transmission will be cheaper and when working in a continuous line will stay at the same speed, giving a more consistent result. But means you often have lots of levers and controls on the floor of the tractor which can make getting in and out trickier, whereas hydrostatic tractors generally have a cleaner floor layout with less controls for easier access.
Finally, whether you opt for a first- or second-hand tractor, always check out the tractor in action. Tractors are all different and older tractors in particular will have their quirks. We wish you good luck in the hunt for your next tractor and as always are happy to advise with compatibility with our range of compact tractor equipment!