on Thursday, August 8, 2019
Picking the best compact tractor for your small farm or homestead really boils down to two key questions: What tasks do you need to do with your equipment now, and what would you like to do in the future?
This also includes the frequency with which you’ll be needing to get the work done. Bigger is not always better, and smaller may not always be the most manageable. For this reason, the ideal model will vary from property to property. Sitting with these questions can offer guiding principles on how to make the right choice for your needs when confronted with a variety of options like size, features and the types of implements you’ll be needing.
The Matter of Land and Mowing with a Compact Tractor
Acreage is just one piece of the bigger picture when considering land and the basic function of mowing. There is big a difference between working land that is heavily wooded and mowing a manicured lawn. For instance, even if you have 10 acres to care for, but your property has a lot of trees or other obstructions, you’ll find a better match with a sub-compact tractor. A standard compact might make quicker work of 10 acres in a clearing, but it couldn’t handle the obstacles. That’s because sub-compacts, like those found in the 1 Series, are better able to manage turns and smaller spaces, so they can zip right through those trees. That said, you’ll need to take the makeup of your land into account too, while keeping chores top of mind.
Finding the Right Strength in Horsepower
The small tractor category has a generous range in engine horsepower that starts with 22.4 hp for sub-compacts and goes all the way up to 66 hp depending on the standard compact model. To that end, the range in terms of power take off starts at 14.5 hp on the lightest end in the 1 Series, and it goes up to 51.9/54.2 hp in the 4 Series. So how much strength do you really need? Well that depends on your workload. For the most part, sub-compacts and compacts both do a lot of the same types of work. They share some of the most basic functions so they can carry, pull, lift and mow with the help of an array of implements. However, they do vary by how much they can carry, pull, lift and mow at one time. This of course affects the speed with which you can get jobs done and checked off your chore list.
In short, you’re going to need a whole lot more horsepower for heavier, harder more frequent work than say, medium and lighter work with the same frequency. For example, imagine you have a project that involves moving heavy boulders. You’ll need a heavier, bigger tractor with a lift capacity to match the demanding work. A machine that can only lift fewer than 700 lb. when the boulders are 900 lb. alone would be unable to complete the task. Now, the other thing to consider is that if the weight limit did match the work, the power take off is going to really determine how quickly you’re going to do the job, which makes a big difference. The same is true of repeat activities such as agricultural work and caring for livestock. With all that said, one of the last things you’ll want to do is underestimate your workload. It’s better to have a little more power than is immediately necessary than to find yourself in a bind with a tractor you’ve outgrown too quickly.
The Perfect Fit: Storage and Entry Points
Equally important to the types of work you’ll be doing is where you’ll be storing your compact tractor and implements. If storage is limited, it’s important to note that a sub-compact is the only tractor in this category that’s cable of clearing a standard garage. So, do be sure to consider measurements for storage, entry points and access points on your property to assess the number and types of limitations you may encounter. This will also help you identify what changes may need to take place earlier on in the process, such as installing a wider gate or making space in a larger structure for storage, which will save you a whole lot of trouble in the long run.
Going Along for the Ride
Outside of the technical and work-related components of choosing a compact tractor, you’ll also need to give thought to who will be using your machine, when and how often. For instance, a property that requires grooming or equine and barn care multiple times a week will have you in the seat for longer periods of time. As the primary operator, you’re going to want to study up on which comfort features are most important to you. However, if these responsibilities are shared and the equipment is used equally by different people, you may find yourself with a different set of answers. That’s where the test drive can be helpful. If you and your spouse use the machine equally, it’s a good idea that you both have a try at test driving your small tractor before making a final decision. That way, you can be sure that you’ve found the perfect green and yellow tractor that meets everyone’s collective needs.
All in all, picking the right equipment is a balancing act between the jobs you’d like to get done, the size and type of land you have to work, and the obstacles your property and storage situation might present. Of course, operator preference ranks pretty highly as well. Ready to dig a little deeper? You can explore our selection of John Deere compact tractors here. Or, come on in to your nearest Sunshine dealership and explore with us in person.
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