The first thing to consider is the size of the acreage and the jobs that will be carried out with the equipment. A 20-acre hobby farm doesn’t need the enormous machines that a 2,000-acre commercial operation will require. More important than size, however, are the intended applications of the machine. Loading hay, cutting crops or fields, pushing snow or dirt, pulling a plow or discs, all require different strengths from the machine. When looking at tractors for sale, it’s important to understand how equipment is rated and which features are going to be most important.
Weight and horsepower are popular measures when talking about tractors for sale. Weight, although often discussed, is far less important than you might imagine. First, the weight of the machine has only a minimal impact on its effectiveness in the field, and can actually be a disadvantage when working on soft, loamy ground or in deep snow. If weight is an important consideration for a specific job, it’s quite inexpensive to add weights. Other considerations, like horsepower, are more important.
Horsepower, however, can be tricky. It refers to three very different, but equally important, measurements. There is the PTO horsepower, which refers to the power to run equipment like cutters; drawbar horsepower, which refers to the power a tractor is able to transfer to the ground, affecting its towing and pushing capacities; and engine horsepower. Clearly a 750-pound lawn tractor with a 25 horsepower engine isn’t capable of the same work as 2,000-pound farm implement with the same engine size because its drawbar and PTO horsepower will be much, much lower. The work the machine does will determine the importance of each type of horsepower and informs the buying decision.
Other factors to consider are the transmission and capabilities of the machine. Four-wheel drive tractors for sale may come with a higher price point, but for anything with an engine under 50-horsepower, the beefier transmission is worth the cost. Four-wheel drive means better handling and less chance of a rollover, especially in soft soil conditions. Transmissions come in three types; standard, hydrostatic, and a hybrid of the two, the hydraulic shuttle. A traditional standard transmission works well for many applications, but some consumers may wish to consider the other options when looking at tractors for sale. A hydrostatic drive may be desirable for loading and other “stop and go” work, which can be hard on a clutch system. A hydrostatic shuttle is most commonly found on very large equipment but is available on some smaller models as well. It combines the lack of an actual clutch pedal with the ability to shift gears via a lever, rather than a pedal.
By understanding the job at hand, and the correct applications of each type of equipment and features available, consumers can choose the right machine for the job. Since tractors tend to hold their value over time, it’s best to invest in the proper equipment early on. The right tractor will get the job done for many years to come.