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Tractor size needs to match crops, land

Posted on August 4, 2014 at 8:00 AM by Iowa Corn

Ann Marie Edwards, Iowa Farmer Today Columnist

Choosing the right size tractor for your acres can save time and money.

A tractor that is too small can result in long hours in the field, long delays and premature replacement, while a tractor that is too large can result in excessive operating and overhead costs.

There are several considerations before deciding on a tractor that is most appropriate for the crops being grown and the land.

Photo Courtesy: New Holland

New Holland Boomer compact tractors can offer help around the farm or acreage.

“The ideal equipment should get the work done on time at the lowest possible cost,” says Paul Sumner, University of Georgia Extension engineer.

“The size of the largest tractor should be based on getting critical, high-horsepower jobs done within a specified time period.”

First, consider how many acres you have and what type of land is it. Does it have a lot of hills, wet spots, thick woods, rocks? All of these things go into what type of tractor you might want. For example, hilly terrain will call for a wider tractor with a low center of gravity.

Also consider whether the tractor will need to maneuver around trees, small rows or driveways. Will you need to work with livestock? Consider all the tasks you want to do with the tractor now and what your future plans are. Will you be increasing your acreage?

“Tractors are a considerable investment, but they do hold their value,” says John Nowatzki, ag machine systems specialist with North Dakota State University Extension.

Many subcompact tractors at 20 to 30 horsepower can tackle small jobs. These tractors can range in transmission and hydraulic options as well as offer three-point-hitch operation and PTO control. Loaders, mowers, tillers and backhoes can be found for most subcompact tractors.

Compact tractors at 25 to 60 horsepower and utility tractors in the range of 40 to 70 horsepower can handle even more tasks, heavier loads and more.

Research the options and visit various manufacturers.

The University of Georgia offers a formula to help farmers determine the size of tractor they need. Visit to review it.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Ag Decision Maker offers information on matching tractors and implements. Visit

Case IH recently introduced a tool to help farmers determine what they need in a tractor. the website will help farmers walk through their decision process.

“From landscaping to livestock, from feedlot to vineyard, Case IH will help farmers determine what tractor they need,” says Zach Hetterick, tractor marketing manager for Case IH.

The decision tool asks questions about how much they will be using the tractor, how much power they will need, whether they would like a cab and more.

After the questions are answered, the producer gets a recommendation of which Case IH model will best meet their needs.

For smaller acreages and farms, Case IH introduced the Farmall V series tractor, designed specifically for the tighter spaces and more narrow rows.

Photo Courtesy: Case IH

The Case IH Farmall V tractor series is designed specifically for
tighter spaces and narrow rows in fruit and nut orchards and vineyards.

The Farmall V tractor is designed to get in and around vines and low-hanging tree branches, make tight turns and run at the perfect speed for spraying or dusting crops. The tractor also has a lower center of gravity, so it performs well on steep inclines. And, if operators need to stop on a hill, they have an 80-percent- more-efficient parking brake system than the previous generation of narrow-width tractors.

The Farmall 105 V tractor has 90 hp. A variety of configurations and features are available to ensure high performance and operator comfort.

The Farmall N series is similar to the V series but features a low profile and narrow width orchard and vineyard owners seek. There are three Farmall N series tractors, the 75N, 95N and 105N, from 62 to 92 hp.

Other new compact tractors were introduced recently.

The John Deere 1026R series is available in 25 horsepower options, numerous implements and attachment options. It is equipped with a high-torque three-cylinder engine and an easy-to-operate two-speed hydrostatic transmission. A folding ROPS system is standard.

AutoConnect technology makes it possible to drive over the top of a mowing deck to attach. Other features include a toolbox and tool storage, tilt and power steering, 12V outlet, easy seat adjustment and four-wheel drive.

The New Holland Boomer Series is available in 40 to 50 hp. with a speed ranging to 18.6 mph. Other features on the Series 11 3045 include an upgraded transmission, flip-switch four-wheel drive, a speed reactivity setting and cruise control.

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