If you have a small farm or homestead, you would surely need equipment that can help you with your everyday chores. The tractor is versatile farm equipment that can help you accomplish any given task with the right implement. Depending on the land’s acreage, many small farm and homestead owners rely heavily on the compact tractor to perform the task at hand. Using a variety of implements, a farmer or homestead owner can tackle many mundane tasks without breaking his back.
What Is A Compact Tractor?
As its name implies, the compact tractor is one of the smaller versions of the ubiquitous farm tractor. Tractors are generally grouped together according to their weight, dimension, and engine output, and they categorized into four specific classes: full size, midsize, compact, and subcompact. Compact tractors have an engine power rating of around 27 horsepower (hp) that spans emission gap. They are also equipped with a three-point hitch for category-0 or category-1 implements. The compact class tractor lies at the threshold of hitch category as most models are much wider than category-0 implements but are underpowered for category-1 implements. Some late model compact tractors, however, are equipped with more powerful engines than the 27hp ones and can exert more torque.
According to the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE), compact tractors, by definition, are small-sized agricultural tractors equipped with a three-point hitch for category-1 implements and have a power take-off rated at 540 revolutions per minute.
Tractor Features The Compact Tractors Must Have
At present, many tractors of varying brands have similar parameters, capability, accessories, and features and there is a wide variety of compact tractors to choose from. Some compact tractors are loaded with accessories that are quite visible like the weatherproof cabs complete with air conditioning. Some, however, come with attached implements like a front loader attachment along with a backhoe at the rear or a belly mounted rotary cutter or mower. Other tractor manufacturers opt for features that are less apparent like the following:
1) Hydrostatic Transmission
At present, most tractors on the market are equipped with the hydrostatic transmission. This transmission type is similar to the car’s automatic transmission. This type of transmission makes driving them a more convenient experience even after long hours of tilling, mowing, or harvesting crops. The hydrostatic transmission eliminates the need for clutch and constant shifting of gears and lets the driver specifically concentrate on driving. With this transmission, you can drive at creep speeds without damaging the clutch pads. The hydrostatic transmission has matured into a proven design and is said to be more durable than the manual transmission, arguably. However, when broken, the hydrostatic transmission is difficult and costly to repair.
On the other hand, the manual transmission is still commercially offered as a viable option for those manual-transmission advocates.
2) Two- or Four-wheel Drive Options
Four-wheel drive or 4×4 is very common nowadays, especially, among light trucks and other large vehicles. Compact tractors are currently marketed with four-wheel drive option. It can be advantageous when riding along soft ground or snow or when traction means everything. You can readily double the traction with four-wheel drive when working on soft and muddy part of your farm. However, compact tractors with four-wheel drive option have higher initial cost than the two-wheel drive tractors.
On the other hand, the two-wheel drive tractors are cheaper and arguably have the distinct advantage in speed when driving over flat, finished surfaces.
3) Power Take Off
A tractor can only accomplish a specific farm activity with the correct implement. Many of these implements are powered by the tractor through its power take-off or PTO feature. At present, many tractors with PTO feature have “live” option, wherein the PTO along with hydraulic facility are continuously working even when the clutch is engaged. In most cases, the tractor’s PTO is located at the rear, but some tractor models have PTO linkage located forward.
4) Three-Point Hitch
Most implements, primarily, those PTO-driven implements, are raised during movement and lowered behind the tractor during operations. To facilitate these actions, a three-point hitch is needed to attach the implement to the tractor. With this type of attachment, you can readily raise and lower the implement in and out of operations. It is essential that the tractor, the 3-point hitch, and implements should be perfectly compatible. If the tractor’s engine rating falls under a specific hitch category (e.g., Cat-1) the hitch and the implement should also fall under the same category.
Compact Tractor Attachments & Applications
Like any other tractor class, the compact tractor is a highly adaptable piece of machinery that—with the correct implement—can perform any given task or application. The front implements can usually draw power from the tractors hydraulic and/or electrical system; while the rear-mounted implements generally draw power from the tractor’s PTO and/or hydraulic system. Some towed implements use ground power and rely on its wheels to function. Moreover, certain farm implements are powered by only using gravity or the tractor’s movement to accomplish tasks. Furthermore, there are many common tasks or applications of the compact tractor, and these include:
- Front Loader Works – The tractor with a front loader implement or fork can be great for lifting, moving, or hauling farm materials such as bales, soil, gravel, fertilizers, and animal excrements.
- Farm/Homestead Maintenance Works – Maintaining your lands from encroaching grass, shrubs and other unwanted vegetations can be readily accomplished by using a combination of PTO-driven implements like the rotary cutter, grooming mower, and wood shredder.
- Road Levelling and Land Forming – These tasks can be best accomplished by the tractor using implements with manual or hydraulically-assisted adjustments. Despite being hydraulic-assisted, implements like the rear blade, box blade, and landplane are powered and rely heavily on gravity and tractor pull to accomplish the task.
- Snow-Clearance – This task is readily achievable via the use of a PTO-driven snow-blower implement or via the use of a front loader. Aside from snow blower, the front loader can be used for snow clearance jobs, albeit with limited effect.
- Tillage – Before any planting could be done, the soil should be plowed, tilled, and harrowed. With a compact tractor equipped with ground- or PTO-driven implements such as plow and harrow, the plowing, tilling, and harrowing tasks become a lot easier.
- Crop Planting – Crop planting is a very tedious task. The tractor with planter implements makes planting crops like grains and cereals and vegetables and fruit-bearing plants more convenient.
- Harvesting – Harvesting is likewise, a very tiresome task even when aided with draft animals. This job can become a short affair when using a tractor with harvesting implement. When harvesting using a tractor equipped with a PTO-driven harvester, the risk of the harvest being run-over or spoiled is greatly minimized, if not eliminated, and the harvest is simultaneously separated from hay.
- Raking, Tedding, and Hay Baling – After the harvest, hay is almost impossible to collect. Using a PTO-driven rake implement, the hay can be spread, tedded, and collected for hay baling. PTO-driven hay baler bundles the collected hay into bales for movement and storage for winter months.