Choosing the right tractor
There's no denying a tractor is one of the most important tools on an acreage. From moving snow to mowing the grass, from digging holes to hauling loads, the uses are endless. And with such a large investment, you'll want to know exactly what you need before signing on the dotted line. Here are some tips to help you select the best-suited model and some features to consider.
Consider your property
It's important to think about the number of acres you own and to account for any land you plan to buy in the future. Buying an appropriate tractor up front is often more cost effective than upgrading a short time later. To ensure your equipment can grow with your property, consider your future needs. Will you need to till a large garden? Do you plan on working with horses or livestock? Are you planning to use the tractor to mow the lawn? Since certain jobs require specific attachments and horsepower, answering these questions will help provide you with the greatest long-term value.
Sizes and configurations
With the number of affordable used tractors on the auction lists and dealer lots diminishing, many acreage owners are considering buying new. "Used utility tractors are very expensive -- you won't find any bargains," says John Nowatzki, ag machine systems specialist with North Dakota State University Extension. "Tractors hold their value."
And the benefits of new tractors of all sizes are attractive. Not only are new tractors safer and more fuel efficient, they're being sold in a wide variety of configurations that fit most every need. Features that once only appeared on high-horsepower models are now offered on smaller tractors, including on-the-go shifting, full cabs, and higher-flow hydraulics.
In many cases, subcompact tractors (roughly 20 to 30 hp.) are capable of tackling the jobs on your property. Most manufacturers offer a range of transmission and hydraulic options, as well as smooth three-point hitch operation and easy PTO control. With implements available -- including loaders, backhoes, mowers, tillers and more -- subcompacts are useful for smaller properties with lighter tasks.
Moving up in size, compact tractors (roughly 25 to 60 hp.) and utility tractors (roughly 40 to 70 hp.) are capable of doing even more, with added transmission, PTO, and hydraulic options, as well as heavier loader lift capacities for a wider range of tasks.
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