Buying a new tractor remains one of the biggest investments any farmer, businessperson, or landowner can make. They’re big, they drink fuel, and require more maintenance than your secondhand car. But they’re also totally necessary and we’d be lost without them. It’s no surprise that choosing a new tractor can be difficult and stressful. Here’s your guide to choosing the right one.
1. Ask yourself: what will my tractor do?
The first step in choosing the right tractor is having a clear idea of what tasks your tractor will perform. Whether you’re adding to an existing fleet or buying for the first time, write up a plan for tasks that it will complete, how this fit into our budget and how many hours of labor will be saved. The nature of the tasks will dictate exactly what kind of attachments you’ll need, the size, power, and efficiency will all depend on the kind of tasks you’re hoping to complete. If you’re moving manure around stables, lifting hay bales, seeding, pruning, or mowing, all these tasks will demand different features.
2. Land area and terrain
When looking at a new tractor, always consider the size of your property. If you’re managing a small homestead with a few stables and a couple of acres of pasture, you won’t be needing a top-of the-range monster. Overdoing it on size will only hit you down the track with exorbitant maintenance costs and a bigger fuel bill. Matching the size of your tractor to your property is critical in ensuring the sustainability of your investment. But it’s not just how much land you’re hoping to work on, it’s the kind of terrain you expect to cover too. If you’re working on rough, muddy terrain, consider a tractor that can effectively navigate the conditions on your property.
3. Horsepower and lifting capacity
Don’t let advertising fool you, more horsepower isn’t always better. It all depends on the kind of work you’re doing. Overdoing it on power can actually be a big mistake if your list of tasks includes mowing and trimming. Too much power on the wrong surfaces can result in damage to crops, not to mention the higher price tag. Here’s a simple breakdown:
- 15 – 30hp is perfect for small hobby farms where versatility is needed for pulling carts, mowing, and everyday yard jobs. Not suitable for land cultivation or heavy lifting.
- 30 – 50hp is entering into the subcompact and even touching on compact tractors that have a larger range of capabilities. This range has better towing capacity and with a power take-off (PTO) shaft can power a small range of attachments. Small field cultivation is possible.
- 50 – 90hp is the utility range of tractors built for managing most tasks from hay baling, tillage, seeding, and plowing. This will fulfil most needs on any medium commercial farm.
- 90hp + is the high-end powerful range that comes at a big cost. For commercial farms with large tracts of land and heavy-duty tillage and crop maintenance, this range is ideal.
4. Tyres and tread
Getting the tyre tread right is almost as important as getting the right horsepower. With the wrong tyres moving over rough terrain could be virtually impossible. Tractors themselves are heavy, and in muddy, icy, or sandy conditions, you’re going to want the right tyre tread to ensure the right grip. Examine the kind of terrain you’re most likely to be traversing – if it’s compact earth, roads, and gravel, you can get away with minimal tread, whereas muddy, sandy, or rough terrain will benefit from higher grip tyres.
5. Safety and maintenance
Choosing the right tractor means ensuring the right safety precautions are in place for the kind of work you’ll be doing. While safety should always be at the forefront of any operator’s mind, if you’re buying a used tractor you should always check the safety lights, Rollover Protective Structure (ROPS), and seatbelt are functional and up to standard. Maintaining your tractor will be our job once you take on ownership, so always check your insurance is up to date and operators are aware of the safety protocol.