Determining Your Farm’s Horsepower Needs

While tractors are certainly a costly investment, the increased productivity delivered by a new tractor can revolutionize your entire operation. In order to maximize the return on your investment when purchasing new tractors, it's critical to fully assess the needs of your farm, along with the types of machinery currently on the market, before determining which tractor - or tractors - is right for you.

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Which Tractor Sizes Are Available?

At the smallest end of the spectrum, compact tractors provide up to 45 overall horsepower, offering enough power for a variety of everyday duties not necessarily restricted to farming operations. Utility tractors deliver a bit more heft, typically providing 45 to 85 horsepower and accommodating heavier attachments designed for more varied work. The largest tractors, known as row crop tractors, are usually offered with a massive selection of horsepower options - sometimes reaching up to 450 hp - in order to cater to the needs of full-scale farmers. They're known for handling more challenging terrain, and often come equipped with top-of-the-line features.

With these capabilities in mind, the question of your specific farming needs arises - would you be better off with one powerful tractor, several tractors of a similar size, or a varied combination of machinery? Ultimately, the answer comes down to the specifics of your workload, including the size of your property and the implements you'll be using.

Weighing the Needs of Your Operation

In many cases, small family farms and other small lots will discover that compact tractors are the perfect match. Because they're capable of basic tasks, such as mowing, and are available at a much lower cost than larger tractors, compact tractors are a smart investment for farms simply seeking tractors for basic property maintenance.

Utility tractors are another prime choice for small and midsize farms - especially those that are dealing with a wider scope of work and tougher conditions than farms efficiently managed by compact tractors. The added horsepower offered by utility tractors allows the use of farming attachments, such as spreaders and rakes. Another benefit of investing in utility tractors is that they're often fairly affordable, allowing you to secure several utility tractors for a fraction of the price of a top-of-the-line large tractor if extra horsepower is necessary.

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If your farm's a full-scale operation, however, you'll almost certainly need at least one row crop tractor. Because these tractors offer so much more power than smaller options, they're capable of performing virtually any farm task, and they can complete these tasks on hills and other challenging terrains. These capabilities will lead to a more costly up-front investment, but the significant increase in productivity and durability allows the tractor to pay for itself over time.

For many bigger farms, a single row crop tractor may do the trick. But if you're dealing with much more land than the typical property, several may be required. Fortunately, since row crop tractors are offered in a wide range of power options, you won't always have to secure a tractor with the most horsepower. For example, if you're adding a large, but fairly simple plot, a smaller row crop tractor may be a worthy addition to your farm fleet.

Choosing Your Tractors

When it comes down to it, there's no universal solution for determining which - and how many - tractors you need for a successful operation. The only tried-and-true way to make the right tractor-buying decision is to carefully determine what you need out of your machinery, and then to ensure that the tractor - or tractors - you buy are able to deliver the horsepower required to get the job done.

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