It can be hard to choose the right tractor for your farm, especially if you're new to farming. This blog post will help you make a decision on what type of tractor is best for your needs.
The first thing that you need to consider when choosing a tractor is what kind of land do I have? Different farms have different terrain and an important part of being successful with any type of agriculture business is working with the land that you have available. The second main factor in deciding which tractor to use would be how much acreage do you need to cover and what type of crops do you plan on planting? Lastly, you will need to consider how much money you are willing to spend on a tractor.
Here we will cover the main types of tractors and their uses.
What Are The Two Main Types of Tractors?
There are many different types of tractors available for various purposes. Whether you're looking to start a farm, need something to use on your land to help you move heavy objects, or even if you just want a tractor for fun, there are different models and types available.
One of the first things to consider when looking into tractors is what type you need. The two main types of tractors are compact and utility – and each has their benefits.
A compact tractor is a smaller version of the traditional utility tractor. They're designed to be easier to handle and require less maintenance than their larger counterparts. Compact tractors typically do not have as many of the attachments that come with a utility tractor – although there are some models available – but it can still provide you with everything you need on a smaller acreage.
Compact tractors generally refer to small four-wheel drive tractors that are used for both indoor and outdoor purposes, while utility refers to larger six or eight-wheel drive models that feature open operator stations with low cabs called "bunk cabs" (or simply "bunks") and are designed for field work.
Compact tractors were originally used for indoor applications such as baling, plowing, tilling in tight areas, feeding machinery into a hay mow or silo in a barn, minor transport between fields or from a field to a farmyard, moving large round bales around small farmyards and paddocks, and for transporting implements such as discs or blades. A few companies also make multi-purpose compact utility tractors (or "multi-tractors") with attachments such as front loaders, skid steer buckets, rotary mowers and backhoes that can be used as small loaders or mini excavators. These tractors are capable of providing everything that a much larger utility tractor can offer, without the higher cost and limited attachments.
Some of the benefits to owning a compact tractor include:
- Can operate with less horsepower than a utility tractor
- Requires less maintenance
- Great for managing an acreage that is not as heavily cluttered
That being said, there are also some disadvantages to owning a compact tractor, such as:
- Smaller engine can be less powerful than a utility tractor's engine
- Doesn't pull nearly as much weight or operate with the same attachments as a larger utility tractor
- Can cost more than a utility tractor depending on the model and options you choose
A utility tractor is designed for heavy-duty work and is used on farms and large properties with many acres to take care of, such as forestry and haying operations.
These kinds of tractors come equipped with large engines and very heavy-duty equipment – making them perfect for the vast majority of farm operations. The open operator station provides an unobstructed view all around the tractor, allowing you to see your loader or any other machinery (or livestock) that may be nearby.
Smaller utility tractors are typically four-wheel drive and have a low-cab design. Larger models, meanwhile, are usually six or eight-wheel drive and come with an enclosed operator station that is called a "bunk cab" because it has room for one to two people inside.
In general, these kinds of tractors can be used for:
- Baling hay
- Farming projects both large and small
- Transporting equipment or materials between fields or yards
- Aggressive terrain management, such as hilly areas or steep inclines
- Pulling heavy machinery, such as a loader, mower or forklift (if you choose to add one)
When searching for your utility tractor, it's important to consider the horsepower because this can determine what kind of work you will be able to do. For example, if you're planning on using it for farm chores, cultivating or plowing, look for a tractor with at least 50-horsepower. If you'll be hauling equipment or transporting heavy materials, there are some models with up to 100-horsepower.
With that said, there are several benefits of owning a utility tractor, including:
- Ready for just about any job you throw at it (including harvesting)
- Can pull most equipment needed on the farm or in property management
- Provides superior comfort and convenience because of its enclosed operator station
- Comes with many attachments, such as front loaders and backhoes
Utility tractors come in a wide range of sizes and power levels. They can be found in:
- 0 to 50 horsepower
- 50 to 100 horsepower
- 100-plus horsepower
With the right attachments, utility tractors can accomplish just about any task you need them for.
Some drawbacks to utility tractors include:
- They are typically heavy and difficult to transport
- Require a lot of maintenance and upkeep due to the large engine and open cab design
- Much larger than compact tractors – can make them a bit more challenging to maneuver on tight job sites
Additional Types of Tractors
In addition to compact tractors and utility tractors, there are many other tractors to consider based on your needs. Below you will find a brief overview of the different types of tractors available and their various uses.
Row Crop Tractors
Row crop tractors are very similar to utility tractors, but they include many more large attachments for tilling and planting. They also come with a specialized lower front end (called an "M" pattern) which enables you to plant in straight lines or rows without tearing up the soil or damaging it with grass clipping residue.
These kinds of tractors are great for agricultural farming, whether it's a large farm or a smaller one with a lot of acreage. They also work well on properties that have been made into vineyards, where crops need to be planted in straight lines and harvested without damaging the soil.
In addition to planting and harvesting, these tractors can also be used for:
- Heavy hauling between fields and properties
- Spreading manure, fertilizer or lime
- Tilling the soil before planting
- Pruning grape vines by hand during the winter months (while not in use)
Row crop tractors are available with up to about 100-horsepower. They are more powerful than smaller utility tractors because of their attachments, which enable you to plant much larger areas in a shorter period of time.
Industrial tractors are usually more powerful than row crop tractors because of their attachments – which include a bucket loader, front end loader and forklift – but they also tend to be much heavier. Because industrial tractors can reach weights above 10,000 pounds (such as the Cat 994F), it may not be possible to drive them on public roads.
Industrial tractors are best suited for work on large properties, such as mining and forestry sites. They can also be used in large facilities, such as airports or seaports, where they may need to handle the movement of cargo containers.
Most industrial tractors come with a back hoe or bucket loader that can lift even the heaviest attachments designed to move machinery and other heavy objects.
In addition to being used for transporting materials, industrial tractors can also be used for:
- Forklifting equipment from one job site or facility to another
- Handling cargo containers at large facilities or seaports
- Tipping huge dumpsters over so they empty their contents
Industrial tractors typically come with a lot of power, but they can also be quite expensive. They are best suited for projects that require a lot of heavy lifting and moving of objects.
Garden tractors are smaller than industrial and row crop tractors, but they are more powerful than compact tractors. They generally come with larger engines (up to 100-horsepower) for increased performance when mowing or tilling large areas of land.
These kinds of tractors work best on large properties where the terrain is uneven or hilly, or where there is a lot of acreage that needs tilled or mowed. They are also good for landscaping jobs on large properties, since they can pull heavy duty mowing equipment and break through tough soil.
Garden tractors are available in sizes ranging from 18 horsepower up to around 50 horsepower. Their larger engines make them more expensive than compact tractors and they can be difficult to maneuver in tighter spaces where they need to turn and reverse.
In addition to their front end loader or bucket, garden tractors also come with a variety of attachments that make them great for:
- Transporting equipment from one area of the property to another
- Preparing the soil for planting by tilling it
- Mowing, tilling or cultivating the soil before planting crops
- Lifting and dumping small trailers or dumpsters
- Using the rear blade to level out uneven areas of land
Garden tractors are available with four-wheel drive for improved traction. This enables you to haul equipment through hilly terrain without getting stuck.
Implement Carrier Tractors
Implement carrier tractors are smaller than most other kinds of tractors and they typically come with a three-point hitch (which enables you to attach implements such as mowers, plows and manure spreaders).
These kinds of tractors are best suited for farms or small acreages where there is plenty of land to till. They can also be used by landscapers who need to transport equipment from one area of the property to another.
Implement carrier tractors are available in sizes ranging from around 20 horsepower up to about 50 horsepower. They tend not to have as much power as other kinds of tractors. Many implement carriers also come with four-wheel drive, which enables you to transport equipment over uneven terrain.
Advantages of implement carrier tractors include:
- Their lighter weight makes them easy to transport on the road
- They are relatively affordable compared to other types of tractors
- They can be used on large properties, such as farms and ranches where there is a lot of acreage that needs prepared for planting
Autonomous tractors are hands-free versions of industrial or implement carrier tractors. They can be operated using a tablet computer, phone or via a joystick located on the steering wheel.
This technology enables workers to manage multiple tasks at the same time, such as driving an autonomous tractor in one area of a farm while simultaneously moving equipment in another area.
Autonomous tractors are typically used by large scale farms and other agricultural facilities that have a lot of land to manage. They can be pricey, but their hands-free technology makes them attractive for any business that requires autonomous equipment, such as construction companies that need autonomous trucks rather than just driverless cars.
Advantages of autonomous tractors include:
- Less time, gas and effort spent on managing equipment
- Reduced production costs by enabling workers to multitask rather than sitting behind the wheel of each machine
- Ability to manage multiple tasks at once (such as moving large-scale equipment in one area of a farm while operating an autonomous tractor elsewhere)
- 24/7 productivity, even on the weekends
- Ability to operate equipment in tight, crowded areas without getting stuck or damaging property
Autonomous tractors are fairly new and it will take some time before they become commonplace. Their demand is growing, however, as more businesses recognize their potential for keeping workers safe and productive.
Military tractors are a specific type of implement carrier tractor that have been designed to help soldiers transport equipment and weaponry. These vehicles can be customized with camouflage paint, extra-wide tires and other features that make them less noticeable from a distance.
In addition to being used by the military, you can also purchase these vehicles for your own farm. They are relatively affordable, but they tend to be smaller than other kinds of tractors. In addition, since military tractors have not been designed specifically for farm use, their build quality might not be as good as that of other types of tractors.
Advantages of military tractors include:
- Inexpensive compared to other kinds of tractors
- Ability to camouflage your tractor to blend in with the surrounding environment
- Capable of moving large objects over uneven terrain without getting stuck or damaging the property
Enemy combatants are less likely to see military tractors, which could help keep you and your equipment safe if you're operating them near areas where there's a lot of aerial traffic
Since military tractors are somewhat smaller than other kinds of tractors, they can be used on smaller properties such as farms and ranches, or on properties that have a lot of interference from hills, large rocks and other obstructions.
Since military tractors are designed with war in mind, they might not be as durable as normal farm equipment. In addition, their tires might not work well on softer surfaces such as soil or sand. They can still be used for farming activities, but you'll have to be careful not to get stuck in loose soil or leave tire tracks across your property.
Earth-moving tractors are large versions of construction equipment such as bulldozers and backhoes. They have been designed to help contractors move dirt, sand and other loose material across land. These machines can be outfitted with special attachments such as blades, rakes and buckets that make it easier for them to function as rugged utility vehicles suitable for a variety of tasks.
In addition to being used by contractors, earth-moving tractors can also be purchased for your own farm. They are typically a good choice for anyone who needs to reclaim land that's been contaminated with chemicals or toxic materials, or someone who wants to make it easier to transport large amounts of loose material from one side of their property to the other.
Advantages of earth-moving tractors include:
- Ability to move large amounts of loose material (such as soil, rocks and sand) across uneven terrain without getting stuck or damaging property
- Reduced production costs compared to renting heavy equipment such as backhoes or bulldozers
Earth-moving tractors are designed with the needs of construction companies in mind. As a result, they might not be as durable or maneuverable as other kinds of tractors,
Orchard Type Tractors
Orchard tractors are designed with the needs of farmers and gardeners in mind. They're typically a good choice for anyone who wants to cultivate large plots of land (such as orchards and gardens) without damaging crops or interfering with production. They can also be used on smaller properties such as farms, ranches and small lots where most of the activity takes place on flat ground.
Advantages of orchard tractors include:
- Ability to cultivate land without causing serious damage such as tearing up roots, weeds and other plants
- Capable of moving through fields and pastures at a slow pace while still maintaining low levels of soil disruption
Orchard tractors are typically smaller than other kinds of tractors. As a result, they might not be appropriate for properties that have large tracts of land where there is a lot of interference from rocks, hills and other objects.
Orchard tractors are designed with the needs of farmers in mind. As a result, their build quality tends to be better than earth-moving tractors. However, they might not be as durable or efficient as military and construction tractors.
A rotary tiller is a small machine that has been designed to help gardeners and farmers cultivate land more efficiently. It's typically used on large properties such as orchards, gardens and farms where the soil is loose and needs to be turned over on a regular basis.
Rotary tillers are relatively easy to use. They work by creating small flaps in the soil using a rotating front-end blade. This helps bring buried weeds and rocks to the surface where they can be collected, removed or destroyed.
In addition to being used by gardeners and farmers, rotary tillers can also be purchased for your own use at home. They are often a good solution for small properties where it's difficult to rent larger tractors.
Advantages of rotary tillers include:
- Ability to cultivate land without causing serious damage such as tearing up roots, weeds and other plants
- Capable of penetrating deep into the soil profile in order to loosen up even the hardest clumps of earth
Rotary tillers are typically easier to use than other types of tractors. As a result, they are often better suited for individuals who have no experience using this kind of equipment. The downside is that they aren't as powerful or versatile as other kinds of tractors.
Popular Brands of Tractors
There are many brands of tractors on the market, and you might be wondering which are some of the more popular tractors. Below is a list of popular brands of tractors worth looking at:
John Deere Tractors
John Deere is a well-known brand that's been trusted by farmers and gardeners for many years. They're known for making high quality, durable tractors at affordable prices. In fact, John Deere models are often some of the most popular on the market today.
Case IH Tractors
The Case IH brand has been around since the 1800s. Over time, it has expanded to become one of the largest tractor manufacturers in North America. They're known for their focus on durability and safety features.
The Ford brand is a well-known manufacturer of automobiles and trucks. However, they also make tractors that are specifically designed for farmers and gardeners. They are known for their attention to detail, build quality and aesthetics.
Caterpillar is another popular brand that has been around since the 1800s. Most people associate them with heavy machines such as bulldozers and back hoes. However, they also manufacture tractors that are used for construction, earth moving and landscaping.
The Kubota brand is popular because they make tractors that are dependable, affordable and easy to use. They have a wide range of models that can be used for almost any purpose.
Deutz-Fahr is known for making high quality agricultural equipment. Their tractors are designed to meet the needs of farms that have large tracts of land with difficult soil types.
Amazone is a German company whose main focus is on designing and manufacturing tractors specifically for professional use in orchards, vineyards and other agricultural environments where tractor usage is high. Amazone also manufactures harvesters and other equipment such as sky-high mowing equipment.
Massey Ferguson Tractors
The Massey Ferguson brand is known for producing tractors that are used on small farms where land usage is high. They offer everything from smaller, more compact options to larger models that can be towed behind other vehicles.
If you're looking for a tractor with an emphasis on power and fuel efficiency, the Eicher brand is the one to go with. They are designed for farmers who have large plots of land that they need to manage.
Husqvarna is a popular brand that's known for manufacturing tractors that are powerful, but also easy to operate. Their models usually have a lot of horsepower and they're relatively fuel efficient as well.
Farmtrac is another one of the popular brands on the market today. They make tractors that are easy to use, fuel efficient and durable. Their models include heavy-duty options that can be towed behind other vehicles if necessary.
With so many different tractors available, it's hard to choose which is best for your business. First you must identify what exactly you need a tractor for. Then, start looking for a model that's likely to meet these needs while still being affordable.