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What Size Tractor Do I Need? What About Type, Cost, and Attachments?

Ladies & Gentlemen, Start Your Tractors!

Even the most intense farming tasks are far less grueling with suitable tractor equipment.

When you’re sitting on your new tractor’s adjustable power seat, even the trickiest farm duties can become so easy that they’re almost fun!

But how do you choose the right tractor for your property and farmyard requirements?

Several types of tractors exist, each one with a unique horsepower range to consider. So, what size of tractor do you need?

Keep reading.

Five minutes from now, you’ll know everything you need to know about selecting the best tractor for your homestead or farm so that you can do what you need to do with ease and not spend any more money than you have on the machinery.

Hint: bigger isn’t always better, at least not regarding tractors!

How to Choose the Tractor That You Need

driving the utility tractor and trying to finish the farm work before the sun sets
Two of the first questions homesteaders have about tractors are how much they cost – and which tractor will work best for them. As a rule of thumb, new tractors can cost tens of thousands and might be too expensive. Used tractors can save you heaps of cash – but don’t buy one unless it’s in good shape. Used tractors should have fewer than 6,000 hours on them. Most medium-sized tractors used on small farms, including for brush hogging, haymaking, and tillage, will work fine with 30 or more horsepower. There are many other variables – and we’ll consider them in this article!

Nobody understands your property and your vision for the future of your property better than you do. Now, you need to take that vision and make it a reality!

And you’ll need the best tractor. A super-dependable workhorse to help achieve your farming dreams.

Try to have clear goals when sourcing a tractor. Do you need to keep an already-well-manicured lawn mowed? Would a small garden tractor suffice? Or maybe you need to turn 45 acres of compact earth for a new farming operation? These details matter.

And if you plan on working around barns or other outbuildings, you need to consider the size of the farm tractor you’re buying. An overly bulky tractor will limit your maneuverability in small spaces.

So, the first thing to determine what size of tractor you need is to clearly define the jobs that you routinely need to conquer, possibly including:

  • Snow Removal
  • Digging trenches
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Drilling post holes
  • Digging deep holes
  • Mowing larger pastures
  • Handling various types of materials
  • Moving large quantities of dirt, gravel, stone, or other bulky, heavy aggregates

And don’t just think about what you need to do right away. You should also consider projects that may arise in the future and ensure that the tractor you buy now can meet those upcoming needs.

Consider Your Property Size & Terrain Type

bearded farmer sitting on a nifty tractor
Terrain type is a huge variable when buying your tractor. I usually advise a four-wheel drive tractor for most farmyard operations – no matter the terrain. But four-wheel drive becomes more crucial if you have muddy, rainy, icy, hilly, rocky, or snowy topography. (Nobody wants a tractor that gets stuck five minutes into your job!) Newer tractors, by and large, also have superior safety features. Many old-school diesel tractors still run fine. But do they have modern safety features? (Like roll-over protection and a seatbelt?) If not – I would look elsewhere.

To discover the best size and type of tractor for you, analyze the size of your property and terrain type.

For instance, does your property have a lot of hills? If so, you might want a larger, heavier tractor with a wide wheelbase for increased stability.

And if your property has tightly wooded areas, you might need a tractor with a tinier frame. That way, you maneuver in between trees better.

According to John Deere, you’ll need at least a 21-horsepower tractor if you plan on digging post holes or grading large areas of garden soil.

And if you plan on moving large bales of hay or feed pallets or performing other heavy-duty tasks, you’ll need something significantly heftier and more powerful.

Read More!

Types of Tractors

OK, after analyzing your property’s size and specific needs, it’s time to match the type of tractor you need with those details.

We’ll go from tiny and less muscle to the largest and most commanding, getting to know what each type of tractor is best for. Then, you can accurately narrow down your choices to determine the best size and style of tractor for your homestead.

In general, tractors are classified based on their horsepower ratings, which correlate closely to their sizes. Let’s look at sub-compact, compact utility, and standard utility tractors.

YEE-HAW – Here We Go!

Sub-Compact Tractors

mowing thick grass with a medium tractor on a warm summer day
Sub-compact tractors have small frames and modest HP – usually around twenty to twenty-five. They often have mowing decks – and thereby lack significant ground clearance. Garden tractors are usually sub-compact tractors. Sub-compact tractors are perfect if you have five acres or less – and only require turf mowing, tree litter cleanup, fertilizing, et cetera. Sub-compact tractors aren’t cheap. But they’re often the most affordable for small farms and homesteaders.
Weight:1,500 – 1,600 pounds
HP:20 – 25 HP
Price:$7,500 – $15,000
Uses:Light lawn work, tree litter hauling, clearing brush
Sub-Compact Tractor Profile

Subcompact tractors, as their name suggests, are the tiniest type. They are typically rated, at under 25 horsepower, making them a perfect solution for light farm work and keeping your property mowed and looking tight.

And, of course, because they’re smaller and weaker than other types of tractors, they are more budget-friendly. Plus, they fit inside a standard-sized garage, and many homesteaders use them as beefy, glorified lawnmowers.

Sub-compact tractors are the best choice when you have a lot of tight spots to navigate. Plus, they’re compatible with several attachments, but nothing like you could use with a full-size utility tractor. Here’s a good rule of thumb – subcompacts are the smartest choice for properties encompassing 5 acres of land or less.

Compact Utility Tractors

small farmyard tractor plowing the field with attachment
Compact utility tractors are a step up from sub-compact tractors. They can have anywhere from 20 to 65 HP – or slightly more. They’re perfect for lawn mowing, landscaping, snow removal, and pulling medium-sized loads. They have beefier frames than sub-compact tractors and usually handle challenging terrain with more confidence.
Weight:1,500 – 2,000 pounds
HP:20 – 65 HP
Price:$10,000 – $30,000
Uses:Landscaping, lawn mowing, medium-load hauling, snow blowing, seeding, fertilizing
Compact Utility Tractor Profile

If you need more power and capability than sub-compact tractors can provide, a compact utility tractor could be perfect for you. They are typically rated between 25 and 65 engine horsepower, making them wise choices for light to medium-duty farm work. Plus, they are compatible with significantly more attachments and accessories than sub-compact tractors are.

With more horsepower and torque, compact utility tractors are good choices for properties between 5-10 acres. With their broad cutting decks, they can mow down overgrown pastures quickly, especially when equipped with a pull-behind rotary cutter. They can handle heavier and larger attachments and implements but are still unsuitable for large farming operations.

Utility Tractors

John Deere tractor roughly 80HP
Utility tractors are the heavy hitters of the farmstead and homestead world. Their HP usually ranges from 40 to 250. They’re capable of heavy-duty load-hauling, snow removal, hay bale lifting, digging, leveling, clearing brush, et cetera. Utility tractors may also have several attachments – perfect for various farmyard projects.
Weight:2,200 – 4,000 pounds
HP:40 – 250 HP
Price:$15,000 – $40,000
Uses:Heavy-duty hauling, digging, trenching, snow removal, hay bale stacking
Utility Tractor Profile

Need extra power? Typically rated between 40 and 250 horsepower, full-size utility tractors are ideal when you have heavy work to accomplish. They are compatible with most attachments and accessories, making them optimally useful relative to sub-compact and compact utility tractors. Utility tractors are well-suited for most homesteads and farms of 10-20 acres.

Utility tractors are best suited to help you push, pull, lift, and forge through the most arduous tasks. They’re mid-sized tractors, and their larger size, horsepower, and weight allow them to handle big acreage chores that sub-compacts and compact utility tractors cannot. They deliver considerably more stability and confidence when tackling heavy-duty work.

Don’t Forget about Tractor Attachments

farm tractor with a large flail attachment for cutting grass and pasture
Tractor attachments are what make utility tractors so exciting. Various tractor attachments make your life on the farm infinitely easier. Some of the most common tractor attachments include cultivators, box blades, post-hole diggers, front-end loaders, snow blowers, snow plows, broadcast seed spreaders, rotary cutters, and rakes. And many more.

Without various accessories and implements, a tractor can’t do much except roll around! Luckily, several attachments exist on the market. Knowing their different types and uses is helpful. Here’s a list of some tractor attachment possibilities.

  • Backhoe
  • Box Blade
  • Brush Hog
  • Cultipacker
  • Disc Harrow
  • Front-End Loader
  • Grain Cart
  • Gravity Box
  • Grooming Mower
  • Hay Bale Wrapper
  • Hay Baler
  • Hay Rake

But that’s not all! You can also benefit from innovative accessories like Pallet Forks, Planters, Plows, Post Hole Diggers, Rear Blades, Rotary Cutters, Snow Blowers/Blades, Sprayers, and Spreaders.

When considering different tractor accessories, remember to match them with your current tractor’s hydraulic capacity. Also, keep in mind how many accessories your tractor can deploy simultaneously.

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09/30/2023 03:40 am GMT

Conclusion about Choosing the Best Tractor for Your Property & Needs

So, how do you feel now? A lot more confident in your tractor knowledge?

Good, that was the goal!

Much larger tractors exist for farming operations on more spacious properties of more than 20 acres. Four-Wheel Drive Tractors, Row-Crop Tractors, Specialty Tractors, and even Track Tractors, some delivering more than 500 horsepower, easily handle everything large operations require.

But our goal here was to provide a basic understanding of the different types of tractors that are sensible for most property owners and homesteaders to consider.

Also, remember that different tractor models and makes perform differently – even though of similar design. You might find that a 21 horsepower John Deere outperforms a 40 horsepower Case when digging post holes, but the Case is better for mowing your 5-acre hilly pasture.

So, never assume that tractors can get grouped across manufacturers. Like automobiles, or nearly anything else, some tractor manufacturers put out better products than others. However, even the most expensive tractors aren’t always superior.

On that note, always consider the history and reputation of the manufacturer of any tractor you’re considering for purchase. Your ideal tractor can last for decades, and we advise our friends to approach the purchase with longevity, dependability, and versatility in mind.

Happy Tractoring!

More Tractor Size Field Guides, Resources, and Works Cited:

Author

  • Alan R

    Alan is a country boy who loves everything about nature and very little about big cities! He’s a quiet nerdy copywriter who loves gardening, hunting, fishing, and enjoying all of the majestic gifts that nature provides constantly. If you pull over to the side of the road on a deepwoods excursion, grab your binocs, and think you see Bigfoot, it could be Alan out on an afternoon stroll Tarzan-Yell out and say Hello!