One of the more significant purchases a smallholder is likely to make is a compact tractor. If you’ve put off investing in one until now you may be worried about making the wrong choice and not getting the value you need out of your investment. Here we share some of the things you should consider when comparing different models, so you can make the right choice.
Having answered the questions below if you would like to chat through your options, please contact us. We would be delighted to share our expertise and help you identify the right compact tractor for your needs.
Q1: What Do You Need It For?
This is a crucial question as it will help you determine what size of tractor you need and the attachments that you will also need to do the various jobs you have. We suggest creating a list of your top priorities by thinking about what you will be using it for most. Then include your ‘nice to haves’, which may help you choose between two different models. Also consider the jobs that a tractor could be used for that you’re currently happy doing with other equipment. With the right compact tractor you could be saving yourself a lot of time and effort, and therefore your investment will actually free your time to do other things. For example, if you’re using a conventional lawn mower to cut your front lawn, a compact tractor could make light work of this and allow you to get on with other jobs.
Q2: How Much Use Will It Have?
This question will help you first decide whether it’s worth investing in a compact tractor at all – if you’re only going to use it occasionally it may be worth hiring instead – and then how robust you need the tractor to be. If it’s going to do a lot of work or in tough conditions, you’ll need something with a bit of power. You’ll also want a tractor that is easy to maintain and get parts for if you’re likely to be wearing them out. Talk to local agricultural repairs companies and ask for their recommendations too, if you are likely to use their services for repairs it’s worth getting a tractor they’re familiar with.
Q3: What Size Tractor Do You Need?
Your land and the jobs you need to do will determine the ideal size of tractor for your individual situation. If you are on a hilly site you’ll need a compact tractor with a powerful engine to get up and down the slope, as well as doing the job it needs to do. If you have large fields they will take a long time to mow if the tractor is too small. Similarly, if the ground is very uneven a smaller vehicle may find it hard to negotiate the bumps and ruts, grounding out on unlevelled ground. However, if your fields are small, or you have problems with access a smaller tractor could be ideal, enabling you to get to areas that a larger vehicle would struggle with.
Q4: Where Will You Store It?
To keep the tractor in top condition it really needs to be stored somewhere out of the elements. Although a tough, waterproof tarpaulin is an option, it will be better off in a barn, garage or other outhouse. If you have the space available this may help decide on the size of the tractor you buy – think about things like headroom as well as the area it will occupy.
Q5: Who Will Be Using It?
It is also important to make sure that whoever needs to use the tractor can do so comfortably. This includes everything from driving it, to attaching implements and doing basic maintenance. Consider how it easy it will be to change a tyre and whether this is something you may need an extra pair of hands to do. If you work by yourself a small compact tractor that is easy to use and maintain may be a better option than a larger, heavier one.
Q6: What Attachments Do You Need?
You will find a comprehensive range of attachments available on the market to suit a range of different tractors. This can be a bit daunting when you are looking to purchase your first attachments, so it is best to consider what tasks you hope to carry out with your tractor.
Regular jobs such as lawn maintenance can be completed with either a finishing or flail mower, whereas grass in unkempt paddocks can be tackled with a heavy flail or topper mower. Trailers are also handy for moving tools, feed and logs or a tipping box will also do the job (for a fraction of the cost).
If you have animals or are planning to graze any on your land a vital task will be fencing. You can look into purchasing a hole borer which drills out the soil or a post knocker for knocking posts into the earth, both are excellent time savers if you have a large area to fence.
Tractor attachments can also be purchased to lay water pipe and cables, a brilliant time saver for installing water troughs and taps into paddocks. These can often be picked up at a reasonable price new or used, much easier than hiring a mini digger.
Another consideration is whether you will need machinery that is operated by hydraulics. If you are looking to purchase a post knocker, crane or offset verge mower, you may also need to make sure that your chosen tractor has the required number of spool valves to operate this.
Q7: Your Budget
Naturally the amount of cash you have available is going to be a key factor in what compact tractor you buy. An outlay of several thousand pounds is not to be taken lightly but you should also consider the amount of time the tractor will save you long term; and the amount of money it could also save you. If you have been hiring extra hands at certain times of the year, you could find that the tractor reduces that wage bill. Similarly, you may also save money on hiring machinery from elsewhere if you get the right vehicle and attachments.
Remember too that your budget will also need to include those essential attachments that will enable you to get the most out of your compact tractor.