The types and styles of farm tractors vary wildly. From lightweight machines that are still capable of running accessories such as shovels and backhoes, to full-size equipment that can handle planting hundreds of acres of produce, the perfect tractor is the one that suits your situation best. No matter how much tractor you need, there are options to consider before purchasing your next tractor.
Horsepower is an important gauge that offers an idea of the kind of power a tractor has. A lot of horsepower will be necessary to move heavier tractors through softer ground, tilled gardens or through sloppy, soft areas with heavy attachments. The horsepower is only part of the package. The build and overall strength of the machine is important, too. Two 25-horsepower tractors may not be equal if one has a lightweight frame and the other a large, heavy-duty frame. Light frames are popular for their affordability, maneuverability and space-saving features. A light tractor with all the right implements might be appropriate if you have 1 or 2 acres, need to till a garden or haul a wagon of mulch. If you need to rake and bale hay on a 50-acre tract, a full-size tractor probably is more appropriate. The size of your farm and the nature of your business will have a lot to say about the size of your tractor needs.
Even on light tractors for smaller acreages, the right tires are crucial. Farm tractors have "agricultural tires" installed on the rims to get the best grip in soft soils. These tires have thick, raised treads that run diagonally from the inside to the outside of the tires. They allow for plowing through sloppy fields, soft barn floors, or heavy weeds in pastures with little effort and with no fear of being stuck. Agricultural tires are important to help a tractor carry heavy attachments across soft ground. Front-end loaders, backhoes and post-hole diggers all create a lot of extra weight on one end of a machine, requiring very strong, firm, wide tires to handle the load.
Gears and Transmission
For manual shifting farm tractors, know what to look for when buying. Two numbers are listed on a tractor's transmission stats: the numbers of forward and reverse gears. If a tractor is 12 x 12, it has 12 forward gears and 12 reverse gears. Automatic transmissions will make life easier, but many farmers prefer manual transmissions for the higher accuracy, extended control for fieldwork and controlling a large machine in tighter areas. Power steering is another valuable option that makes guiding the bigger tractors a more pleasant experience.
Attachments are among the more important aspects in a farm tractor, but one that can be overlooked in favor of horsepower, tires and framework. Don't assume a tractor can make use of any attachment. For some, a PTO (power take off) is necessary to drive the implement. PTO attachments mount at the rear and feed off the PTO drive to turn gears. Common types of PTO attachments are rear mowers, post-hole diggers, snowplows and tillers. Front-end attachments typically don't require drives but may require hydraulic hoses that need to exist on the original machine. The most common of these is the front-loader bucket. These tools may or may not come as a part of the initial purchase but make work around a farm much easier. It's likely you won't need all of the attachments, but the best selection lets you pick the ones that will serve you best. Other items, such as tow bars, carts or wagons to hook up to, also may be important. Some attachments also require a 3-point hitch, which can be an attachment in and of itself.