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What Is the Meaning of a PTO on a Tractor?

By Regan Hennessy ; Updated September 21, 2017

Many people who purchase a tractor eventually end up getting other pieces of equipment to hook to the tractor. The Power Take-Off (PTO) shaft on your tractor allows you to use these pieces of equipment, but it also has the potential to cause major safety problems if you don’t use it correctly.

The Facts

The PTO is a shaft on the rear end of a tractor that transfers power from the tractor to another implement or piece of equipment such as a manure spreader or planter.

Time Frame

PTO shafts typically operate at two speeds; the slower speed is 540 revolutions per minute and the faster speed is 1,000 revolutions per minute.


According to North Dakota State University Cooperative Extension, in only 1 second, a PTO operating at the slower speed of 540 rpm can wrap your arm around its shaft nine times.


According to the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health, up to 20 percent of farm injuries occur as a result of PTO accidents.


Make sure the PTO shaft on your tractor has a shield to minimize your chances of getting entangled in it. Never allow children near your tractor, especially if it’s running.


About the Author


Regan Hennessy has been writing professionally for 11 years. A copywriter and certified teacher, Hennessy specializes in the areas of parenting, health, education, agriculture and personal finance. She has produced content for various websites and graduated from Lycoming College with a Bachelor of Arts in English.