What Is The Difference Between A Row Crop And Utility Tractor - Parts & Information

With so many different types of tractors available on the market, how do you know which type is right for your needs? In this article we will explore the two most common types of tractors: row crop tractors and utility tractors. Hopefully the information contained in this article will help you determine which type of tractor is best for your work.

Row Crop & Utility Tractors
Row Crop & Utility Tractors - Source: Henk Jacobs / Shutterstock.com

What is the Difference Between a Row Crop and Utility Tractor?

If you're looking for a tractor for maintaining your land or yard, you can choose from a variety of models to suit your needs. Utility tractors are equipped with a front loader and a backhoe attachment, making them useful for tasks such as plowing under crops in the fall or removing rocks. They're also often used for grading land and driving piles.

Row crop tractors tend to be lighter in weight and more maneuverable than utilities, since they don't have any attachments. However, if you want a tractor that can harvest your crops, there are models available that combine both row-crop capability with front-end loaders or self-propelled sprayers attached behind the cab.

Below we explore row crop tractors and utility tractors to help you decide which is best for your needs.

What is a Row Crop Tractor?

A row crop tractor is a lightweight model that's intended primarily for use in farming operations. Regardless of which type (two-wheel, three-wheel or four-wheel) you choose, it will be smaller and lighter than a utility tractor.

Row crop tractors are designed to give the best visibility when working around crops, since they don't have any attachments. Often, these tractors are also used for grading land and driving piles (although this would typically require an auger attachment).

To make it easier to get under plants while plowing, look for one with hydraulic lift capability. Hydraulic lift also makes attachments easier to attach and detach.

Row crop tractors are great for medium-sized farms, farms with acreage (like hobby farmers), and rental operations.

What is a Utility Tractor?

A utility tractor is a mid-sized, high horsepower model that's capable of both row crop and loader operations. They resemble conventional tractors in many ways, but they're generally larger and equipped with hydraulics that allow them to attach front-end loaders or other implements such as backhoes.

They usually have four large tires for stability and traction, but three-wheel models (which look like little tanks) are also available. These small tractors provide the same power as their larger counterparts without sacrificing maneuverability since they're much lighter in weight.

Utility tractors often come standard with rollover protection cages — which protect the operator from injury when the tractor tips over — and air conditioning (because no one wants to work in a hot tractor cab).

Since utility tractors often have full-sized cabs and four-wheel drive, they're perfect for medium-sized farms and hobby farmers who need their bulkiness. However, since they're larger than row crop models, you'll need sufficient space to store them.

What are the Key Differences Between Row Crop and Utility Tractors?

Row crop tractors are mainly used on farms or small plots of land for farming tasks such as plowing and grading land. They excel at maneuverability so you can get close to crops while working. Since they lack attachments, these lightweight models tend to be smaller than utility tractors — making them easier to transport from site to site (although this varies depending on if you purchase a three or four-wheel model). Row crop tractors are perfect if you're looking for something with minimal capabilities. Utility tractors are mainly used on larger plots of land (i.e. acreage) for tasks like harvesting crops or grading land (depending on the type of attachments you buy for them). They excel at front-end loader and backhoe operations thanks to their extra lifting power, but often require heavier weight machines to pull them around. Utility tractors are perfect if you're looking for a machine that's capable of performing multiple chores on your property.

What is a Good Row Crop Tractor?

Although there are many row crop models on the market, look for one with an overall good reputation. These might include (but not be limited to) brands like:

  • John Deere
  • Kubota
  • New Holland
  • Case IH

Key features to look for when buying a row crop tractor include:

  • Horsepower: You'll want a tractor with at least 100 horsepower (HP) ratings for fieldwork such as plowing and grading (although you will need much more if you plan to tow loads).
  • Gross Tread Weight Rating: Although most models will advertise their gross vehicle weight rating, this number doesn't tell the whole story. The gross tread weight tells you how much each tire can handle — and is important to pay attention to when trying to find a machine that's capable of handling your land size. Look for one with tires that have a GVW of at least 35% higher than its load capacity so it doesn't drag while working on uneven surfaces.
  • Wheelbase: A shorter wheel makes it easier for the tractor to turn with sharp angles.
  • PTO: Look for a tractor that's equipped with either a diesel engine or electric PTO (power take-off). You'll need this feature to maximize your attachments such as plows and mowers.
  • Diesel Engines: They're more powerful than gas engines and require less maintenance — however, they emit fumes so you may want to consider an electric model if odor is a concern.

What is a Good Utility Tractor?

Although there are many utility models on the market, there are a few popular brands, including:

  • John Deere
  • New Holland
  • Kubota
  • Ford
  • Case IH

Key features to look for when buying a utility tractor include:

  • Front-end Loader or Backhoe: Although this is an expensive option, having front and back attachments that allow you to lift and dig your property is much more efficient than using multiple machines. If you're looking for the most bang for your buck , pair your machine with a loader (which allows you to move materials such as mulch or soil) and backhoe (which lets you dig trenches).
  • Horsepower: You'll want a tractor with at least 250 horsepower (HP) ratings for fieldwork such as plowing and grading.
  • PTO: These come in two varieties, so make sure the machine you buy is equipped with either an electric or diesel PTO option. Since they are rated by wattage instead of torque, you can find one that's capable of handling most attachments.
  • Wheelbase: Longer wheelbases allow for more stability when working on uneven surfaces or pulling heavier loads — but require more space to maneuver around tight corners after turning sharp angles.

What is a High Crop Tractor Used For?

A high crop tractor is a great fit for large plots of farmland that require a machine to work the land. These models are designed for serious farmers who want to maximize their tractor's potential by pairing attachments such as front-end loaders and backhoes with the machine.

What is a High Crop Tractor Capable Of?

High crop tractors are capable of doing almost anything a row crop or utility model can do — only they're able to handle larger loads thanks to their additional lifting power (which makes them perfect if you're looking to plow, grade, or other sized material).

Who Is A High Crop Tractor Typically Used By?

Since these machines are perfect for farms with large plots of acre , growers who own at least 50 acres of land will benefit from a high crop tractor's increased power.

What is a Compact Utility Tractor?

Compact utility tractors are lightweight and ideal for lots smaller than 5 acres. Ideal for homeowners who need to maneuver around their property daily, these models come equipped with front-end loaders and backhoes just like high crop tractors — but lack the power of larger machines for farming jobs.

What are the Main Types of Compact Utility Tractors?

One of the most common types of compact utility tractors is the zero turn radius tractor which has special steering capabilities allowing for quick turns without having to turn around the front wheel first. The other type being walk behind or stand on style, these have smaller engines and features for those not wanting to have to operate from a seat as well as those who do not have access to a larger mower deck due to property size or shape as well as those with physical disabilities. There are many options both powered and manual but the options do not end there: There are also many variations on these two styles such as a walk behind that has a seat and may or may not have power steering.

Other types of compact utility tractors include skid steer, larger size tractors used for commercial applications and self-propelled mowers, larger than the stand-on or push type but smaller than conventional mowers. These can be powered by gasoline engines or battery / electrical batteries but generally speaking they use small engines so one should not expect to cut an acre in one sitting with these machines. They typically have wheels instead of front mounted tractor treads making them easier for slopes and in some cases more maneuverable in tight spaces.

What Features Should I Look For In A Compact Utility Tractor?

Stand on the features you are looking for when shopping for a compact utility tractor. Are you looking for zero turn radius, or do you want an all-in-one machine that has attachments such as a mower deck or front end loader? You may also consider if it is powered by gasoline or electric batteries.

Row Crop Tractor vs Utility Tractor: Which is Right For You?

When choosing between a row crop tractor or a utility tractor, it's important to consider the size of your land and what you'll be using it for.

A row crop model is perfect for large plots of land that are used to grow crops. These models are equipped with larger tires that can handle rough terrain, which makes them ideal if you're looking to plow your field. On the other hand, a utility tractor is better designed for smaller farms, especially if you're interested in adding attachments such as front-end loaders or backhoes. They can also make quick work on lawns or fields if you don't need larger equipment.

Although both row crop and utility tractors are valuable additions to any farm, some brands are more popular than others due to their high performance capabilities. If you want an easy-to-use machine that can handle almost any task, John Deere is a great option. Ford also makes reliable models that are designed to be easy to operate.

Final Thoughts

Whichever type of tractor you choose, make sure to read reviews and carefully consider your budget. If you want to purchase attachments such as a front-end loader, mower deck or backhoe, be sure to check that these are compatible with the tractor you choose as well as how much it will cost to add them.

And remember: No matter what type of tractor, whether row crop or utility, you end up purchasing, always wear the proper safety equipment when operating it.