14 January 2016
If you have recently felt the need for a tractor and are feeling overwhelmed by all the options available, then we are here to tell you that it is normal. Buying a tractor is very different from buying most farming equipment due to the staggering number of variations that are available. Not only do you have many models at your disposal, you also have many variations within the same model to choose from. This guide will not tell you the specific models you need to buy; instead, it will explain all the terminologies and let you know what tractor features are best suited according to your needs.
The 4 basic types of tractors
Tractors are divided into 4 types based on their expected use and capabilities. These 4 types are sub-compact, compact, utility, and row crop.
Sub-Compact tractors are the smallest and least powerful tractors out there. These tractors are great for small gardens and farms. If you are looking to buy a tractor for your home and are not a professional farmer, then a sub-compact tractor is what you should go for. They generally have less than 30 horsepower.
These are bigger than sub-compact tractors and more capable. If you are a professional farmer at a small scale then compact tractors will be great for you. They generally have less than 50 horsepower.
Utility tractors are for professional users who need to use them for specific purposes. The implements can make them specific for a purpose but they usually have a specialty in them. If you have a specific type of job in mind for the tractor, then utility tractor will be best for you. They generally have less than 140 horsepower.
These are the big tractors that are used to tend to crops. They are suitable for professional farmers and we would highly recommend involving more people in the decision to buy this tractor, as it is a complicated process and they are usually very expensive.
Types of Tractor Drives
Tractors are available in 2WD, 4WD, M4WD, and Track when it comes to drives.
2 Wheel Drive
These are the most basic tractors. Only get a 2 Wheel Drive tractor if your farm is mostly flat. Any farm which has hills or slopes will not be suitable for 2 wheel drive.
4 Wheel Drive
In this type, the power is sent to all the 4 wheels. These are the most commonly used tractors. The 4WD means that you will be able to traverse terrains even if there are hills or slopes easily. 4WD is also necessary to ensure your tractor doesn’t get caught up in manure or other soft surfaces.
Mechanical 4 Wheel Drive
These are 4WD vehicles in which the rear tyres are much larger than the front tyres.
These are tractors which have tracks like tanks instead of tyres. Tracks are an expensive option and you should only pick these if they have been recommended for your specific use. They have many advantages on soft surfaces such as soils and can be manoeuvred easily, but are harder to use on hard surfaces.
CAB means cabin, the place where the operator sits.
ROPS stands for Roll-Over Protection System. It means the place where the operator sits is enclosed by a metal bar. So if the tractor rolls over, the operator will not be injured.
This means there is a proper enclosed cabin for the operator to sit in.
There are three types of transmissions available for tractors
CVT stands for continuous variable transmission. Instead of having fixed number of gears, these have an indefinite combination of possible gear ratios. They do away with the need of a clutch and are easier to drive.
These tractors have gears similar to automobiles. Tractors can have more than 20 gears. An increased number of gears means more control for the operator; however, it also translates into more complications.
Hydrostatic transmission uses fluids and is much better to control than other types of gears. This control comes at a price though, as these are much more expensive and less efficient than standard transmissions.
Implements are very important when it comes to tractors. They allow you to make full use of your tractor and many tasks are impossible without the right implement. The part to which the implements are connected to in a tractor is called a three-point hitch. They are divided into three categories based on the horsepower. Sub compact tractors have category zero hitches, compact tractors have category one hitches, while bigger tractors have category two hitches.
Some of the most commonly used implements include:
Front End Loader
A front end loader is a must to pick up snow, dirt, mud, debris, and much more. You will definitely need a front end loader if you are a professional. There are many different sizes and designs available for different uses.
This implement is necessary for digging. You will commonly see them being combined with front end loaders because this allows the operator to dig and take out the sand and dirt at the same time.
There are many other types of implements available for different tasks related to tractors. Implements are divided based on what you intend to do; there are specialized implements for livestock, snow, seeding, mowing, landscaping, and much more. It is always a good idea to look at the list of compatible implements when buying a tractor to know what you will be able to do with the tractor.
Once you understand the terminologies it will be easy to make a decision about which sort of a tractor is suitable for you. If you are just someone interested in maintaining your home’s garden, get a sub-compact tractor and some very basic implements. If you are a semi-professional, then get a compact tractor. If you are a professional who needs a tractor for small tasks, then you should get a compact tractor as well. If you think you need a row crop tractor then we would highly recommend doing lots of research as these are expensive machines.
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