So you’ve just invested in a plot of land… You’ve planted a few trees, and you’ve already got your eye on what will become a fishing pond. Four months later you’re complaining about all the lifting and digging that needs to be done and you wish you had some tool that could help you out…
Don’t let the hard work wear you down
No doubt, owning a small hobby farm is a delight. You’ve got space for fun projects like beehives and micro-crops. But while having a small plot of land is idyllic, it can also become a pain in the back. That is if you don’t have the right equipment up your sleeve to deal with maintenance and upkeep jobs that will inevitably come your way. Enter the small farm tractor – the simple – no-fuss machine that just gets the job done – and you’ll even have fun driving it. Here are 6 important things to consider before investing in your small farm tractor:
1. Know exactly what tasks it will perform
When looking at investing in a tractor for your hobby farm or homestead you’ll want to think carefully about exactly what tasks it will perform. I can hear the kid in everyone’s brain cry out: what!? Besides the fun of just having a tractor? Yes, unfortunately, aside from the fun of being able to chug around your property, this significant investment should have at least a few tasks that make it worth its while. Things like lawn mowing, lifting, towing, and transporting produce – writing up a list will also motivate you to actually use the tractor when it comes to doing odd jobs around your farm.
Balancing the books is important – even on a hobby farm. And keeping your tractor expenditure within a healthy limit is a good way of ensuring you don’t over-do it and end up losing money on expensive servicing and fuel costs. Again, this comes down to usability and how many hours of work you’ll be saving when you’re on the job. If you need a specialist tractor, don’t be afraid to go second-hand – it’s better to get exactly what you need than be trapping around trying to add aftermarket attachments and spending more money later on.
This is always a major question facing new tractor buyers. It’s good to remember that horsepower on a tractor isn’t a matter of more being better. It really comes down to the kind of tasks you want to do on your farm – and the land itself. Generally, for a small hobby farm – you’ll be more than happy with a compact 25 – 35 horsepower diesel engine that can get on with any small or medium job without putting pressure on your motor. Consider the likes of Kubota tractors occupying the lower 30’s range. With enough grunt and versatility – expect to get the most out of a tractor that can squeeze between trees but not sweat it on heavier lifting and tilling jobs. Anything above 50 horsepower will generally be too powerful for a small hobby farm – keep it practical and task orientated.
4. 2WD or 4WD
You’ll find most modern tractors are four-wheel drive. But in some cases, if you’re buying second hand or specialty tractors – you can come across 2 wheel drives, but it’s increasingly rare. Essentially, you’re going to want 4WD. It helps in ways that you couldn’t even imagine were you driving anything else. From slippery rain-sodden tracks to muddy fields, having something that can get in and out of a deep puddle is crucial – there’s no point buying a tractor that needs your car to get it going again. It should always be the other way round.
5. Three-point hitch
For all your fancy attachments! If you’re just starting out with tractors – you might need to do your research on exactly what kind of attachments you’ll be running and choose a tractor that is compatible with those. Generally, having a three-point hitch will open up your tractor to a great many useful farming attachments such as rotary tillers, grading blades, disc harrows, and so on. It also might be helpful to think ahead to your future needs and anticipate the kinds of attachments you’ll need down the track when you eventually grow that crop – or expand your landholdings.
6. Safety features
Always look for a tractor with good safety features. Crucial things to have are a Rollover Protection Systems (ROPS) which protect the operator from falling objects, rolling over, and general protection from rain and sun. If you’re planning on spending long hours out in the sun, having that shade can be a lifesaver. Look out for a proper seat belt, and make sure to look at the safety rating and go over any things you’re unsure about with your supplier before signing off. Whatever your choice, remember to choose a trusted local dealership that has your best interests at heart. Make the most of your first small farm tractor by investing wisely and with your future in mind.