Six tips to put in the right driver’s seat
By James Crouch, Bobcat Company senior product manager for compact tractors
Having a homestead with sprawling acres offers so much space, privacy, investment potential, and let’s be honest: maintenance.
A tractor is an ideal solution for many homeowners with acreage, but with many sizes and configurations on the market, it’s important to find the right machine for you.
Here are 6 tips for choosing a tractor for your homestead.
- Understand different tractor types
Tractors are typically grouped based on engine horsepower. At the low end of the spectrum, garden tractors are riding lawn mowers with engines under 20 hp. Sub-compact tractors usually have engines under 25 hp, while compact tractors often feature 25- to 60-hp engines. Utility tractors will usually have 60- to 140-hp engines for larger farms or commercial agriculture production.
Bobcat Company offers sub-compact and compact tractors, assembled in Statesville, N.C., which are ideal for homeowners with acreage as they offer a versatile mix of power and agility.
- Determine your property’s needs
One of the most key factors to consider when purchasing a tractor is what projects and applications you’ll need the tractor to support.
If you have a well-maintained property that only requires mowing and light maintenance, you may not need a high horsepower option and can save money with a lower horsepower.
On the other hand, if you have more rigorous property maintenance needs like clearing brush, installing fence, hauling heavier loads, working in fields or tackling larger mowing jobs, you’ll want a compact tractor with more horsepower.
People typically won’t regret purchasing a tractor with more horsepower, even if the higher level of power isn’t needed on a daily basis.
- Consider size and storage
Consider the size and layout of your property: the smaller the tractor, the more maneuverable the machine is, which could be important for working close to buildings or inside barns or stables.
If it’s going to be used in tight areas, you’ll want a sub-compact or smaller compact tractor. The most popular Bobcat model is the CT2025 for its size, its capabilities and its economic pricing.
It’s also important to evaluate your storage facilities. Keeping your tractor indoors when not in use minimizes wear from UV rays and exposure to the elements. Make sure you consider the machine’s dimensions in comparison to your homestead’s buildings.
- Determine what features you want in your tractor
Tractors come with many features, with some designed to improve performance while others make operation more comfortable. Notable features to consider for your purchase include:
- Transmission type is about user preference. Many people default to a hydrostatic transmission for its ease of use. It does not require manual clutching and shifting. Alternatively, a manual tractor generally offers more PTO horsepower than a hydrostatic transmission and may save on cost.
- An enclosed cab comes with a higher price tag, but it may be worth it if you value protection from the elements and working in comfort, with heat and air conditioning at your fingertips. If your work requires you to get on and off the tractor often, an open cab is a wise choice.
- Understand the attachments and implements you’ll need
A tractor is as versatile as the attachments and implements you use. Bobcat compact tractors come standard with a 3-point hitch, standard in the industry. Some of the more popular options include:
- Front-end loader: Haul, scoop, dig, grade and more
- Backhoe: Dig septic tanks, ditches, flower gardens or irrigation systems
- Rotary mower: Cut overgrown grass, stalks and light brush to keep pastures well maintained.
- Tiller: Tear through clumps to loosen soil for developing garden beds or food plots
- Box blades: Grade, level and backfill uneven roads, gardens and areas around barns and buildings
- Snowblowers: Blow snow off and away from concrete or gravel driveways or parking lots
Homeowners with many acres acreage may want a larger tractor, attachments, and implements to cover more ground in less time.
Beyond those most popular attachments and implements, there are other options to consider such as pallet forks, snow blades, tine rakes, angle blades, and more.
6. Do your homework
There are countless resources available to learn more about tractors but the best way to learn is through first-hand experience. Visit your local tractor dealer to talk about your acreage maintenance needs.
Get the full experience by operating a few different models. Visit bobcat.com/dealer to find a dealer near you.
About the author
James Crouch is a senior product manager for compact tractors at Bobcat Company and is an avid compact tractor operator himself.
A farm blogger offers his insight on tractor selection