Posted on Jan 15, 2021
When you leave the push mower category and start exploring tractors, you’ll find there are four basic types of equipment available: riding lawn mowers, sub-compact tractors, compact tractors and finally, utility tractors. There is a fifth group made up of specialty tractors that are designed to handle specific types of work, which we’ll leave out of the break down for today. That said, which category out of the basic four and the features you should choose has a lot to do with property size and how you plan to be using your equipment. We’ll answer questions like what size tractor do I need for ½ an acre, 2+ acres, etc., and help you gain a better understanding of tractor sizes overall. Here’s what beginners need to know to decide between each category.
Riding Lawn Mowers: Best for Lawn Care & Mowing
Riding lawn mowers, also known as lawn tractors, are the entry-level option. There are two basic types: a traditional riding tractor and zero turn mowers, which are controlled by levers. Both types of equipment are primarily used for mowing, making the deck size and type among the two most important considerations for property owners shopping the category. Depending on model specifics, you’ll find this type of equipment is suitable for mowing properties sized anywhere from ½ an acre to 3+ acres. Your terrain is another important consideration. Traditional lawn tractors are effective on mixed terrain while zero turns should never be used on hilly properties as they can tip over posing a danger to the rider and the equipment. Traditional riding mowers can also help tackle lighter DIY backyard needs. For those wanting to garden and take care of additional chores, it’s important to gain a good understanding of the compatible attachments as well as accessories of the model you’re considering.
Sub-Compact Tractors: For a Little More Muscle
Sub-compacts are the next level up on the tractor ladder, helpful in managing 2+ acre properties. They can do all the things that a riding lawn mower can, including maintain a manicured lawn, but on average have stronger horsepower and therefore can deliver more power to more substantial implements and attachments like loaders. This equipment is a great option for those with larger residences, homeowners who plan on doing a little more work with their equipment, and they are also commonly used by smaller farmers who need additional equipment that’s more compact for lighter chore work like getting hay to livestock or removing old padding, and so on.
Compact Tractors: Small & Powerful Task Management
When your property is 10+ acres, or your required tasks rely on heavier tools than a 24 horsepower sub-compact can manage, a compact tractor is your first stop. This category is ideal for homesteaders and professional farming operations and is prized for its comparatively small size and therefore maneuverability. Compacts still allow you to manage mowing either with a mid-mount deck or pull-behind rotary cutter, which is a helpful implement if you’re facing rough terrain and vegetation. You’ll find a wider range in horsepower and subsequent working capacity as well as options with traditional gear transmissions or hydrostatic options and of course heavier implements and attachments. Geared transmissions operate a lot like a stick shift in a car while hydrostatic can be likened to working more like an automatic car would, making easier work of repetitive tasks. What you can accomplish with a compact is fairly wide ranging, from lawn care and earthmoving activities to snow removal and just about everything in-between. Horsepower and PTO play a big role both in the types of activities you can do with this equipment as well as how quickly you can accomplish those activities. For instance, a machine with a stronger engine and horsepower can lift heavier rocks and move them more quickly than one with less horsepower. It’s also important to understand that doing more than your machine is capable of without the right tool or power source can break your tractor, which is true of equipment in every category.
Utility Tractors: Built for Tough Jobs & Strength
Utility tractors are a good fit for bigger properties, think 25+ acres, with larger jobs and are largely associated with for-profit farming. This equipment can be used for professional hay bailing, row crop management, animal farming, ranching work and beyond. You can also accomplish mowing with these machines but they’re better suited for managing fields with rotary style mowers rather than grooming a front yard. They can also be used for municipal and construction work as well. Utility tractors tackle all the basic tasks that compacts can but pack a whole lot more power and therefore, a whole lot more punch and, you guessed it, even tougher implements and attachments. As a point of reference, we’re talking more than triple the horsepower of a compact tractor, depending on the model. You’ll also find more farming tech and comfort features integrated into these types of machines to reduce down time, fatigue from multi-step and repetitive tasks, as well as noise and overall efficiency, many of which come standard. Though it’s also worth noting that there are still a considerable number of options and upgrades available. For instance, variance in PTO and transmission options also come into play here, so you can expect more choices as different operations benefit more from one type over another.Want to learn more about tractor sizes or a specific category? Check out our blog on the dos and don’ts of picking a riding tractor or read about compact tractors here. You can also contact your closest Ag-Pro dealership for assistance from one of our friendly and knowledgeable associates or to schedule a demo and see our inventory in-person.