What to Look For When Choosing a Compact-Size Tractor

If you are looking for a compact-size tractor, there are a number of important factors you should take into consideration before making a choice.  Some of the most important include evaluating the machine’s reliability, versatility, safety and operator comfort.

If you’re looking for a small or compact tractor, it is important to make sure that you select the right machine - one that will do what you want it do, and do it safely, in comfort and with ease of operability.  You should therefore aim to choose a machine with the design and specifications that will suit both the type of work you will be using it for and the environment in which it will be operating, and that you can also maintain without difficulty.

Small tractors need to be versatile machines, as they are generally put to a multitude of uses in a variety of climates and environments, and in all types of industries. Therefore,    you need to consider the horsepower capabilities that are available and what will best suit your productivity needs.  Leading manufacturers produce ranges of machines that have models with varying horsepower and this, combined with the tractor’s power-to-weight ratio, should play an important part in your deliberations.  You will also need to consider the type of transmission the machine has, especially if your work involves the tractor travelling at very slow speeds for extended periods of time.  Similarly, it is important to think about whether you need either a two-wheel or a four-wheel drive option.  Fuel efficiency is also important today more than ever, so you should examine closely what a potential new machine is designed to offer in this regard.

In addition, it is unlikely that you will be using a small tractor to perform one type of job only.  Therefore, you might want to think about choosing a machine that can be used in agricultural, transport and field situations, or one that can also be used for PTO jobs or as a loader.  Versatility is the name of the game, and so you should be looking at a machine that can take on the most roles with the least effort.

Operator comfort is vital when choosing a tractor.  Like the machine, you will no doubt have a lot of long working days, and so it is important to look at how well the tractor’s design considers user comfort.  For instance, how intuitive are the controls?  Are the ones that you will use most frequently conveniently located?  You should also look carefully at the seat and the amount of swivel it has, vitally important if you need to look to your rear frequently.  You should also consider whether it will be necessary to have an instructor’s seat.

It is also more than likely that you will at one time or another be using your tractor in some extreme weather conditions, and so the quality and efficiency of the air conditioning system should play a role in your decision.  Ideally, a cab that has numerous, individually adjustable vents creates the most pleasant working environment, whether you are out in the baking heat or working in extreme cold.

If you do decide to opt for a tractor with a cab, make sure that that there is sufficient headroom and good visibility on all sides - including above and to the rear - and that you can see the front of the machine from your driving position, especially important when you are using a front end loader bucket, for example.  Likewise, if you are likely to be using the tractor in a situation where you have to get in and out frequently - to operate a fork lift, for instance - then it is important to make sure that the cab door opens widely enough so that you can get up and down quickly and easily, and that there is a flat floor in the cab.

Operating safety is of course paramount.  If you will be operating the tractor on steep or uneven ground, then ROPS is essential.  In addition, if you are working in an environment where there are a number of potential overhead hazards, such as in an orchard, then you should ensure that FOPS is also included on your machine.  If you are going to be using your tractor at night, make sure that it has a full range of working lights, that you can move and angle and which create a broad spread of light.

A final important factor to consider is the frequency of the service intervals that the tractor will require.  In terms of durability and reliability, a good small tractor should have a service interval of around 500 hours.  In addition, you will want to consider how easy it is perform any daily maintenance that is required, and the location of the service points.  Can you get to them from ground level, for instance?  Ideally, you want a small tractor to be working for you rather than you spending too much time working on it, so the effort required to keep it up and running can play a significant role in your choice of machine.

Buying a new tractor is an important investment, and so it is important to ensure that you are getting a machine that is right for you.  There may of course be other factors that you want to take into consideration as you weigh up the pros and cons of competing makes and models, but the brief list above should provide a good starting point from which to make an informed decision.