Discover Versatile Compact Tractors

Save time and labor by adding modern horsepower to your homestead with these versatile compact tractors.

| April/May 2006

  • These compact tractors can mow the lawn, till the garden, blow snow, grade the driveway, haul hay, dig a pond, drill postholes and generally make rural life easier.
    PHOTO: SCOTT HOLLIS
  • This Farmtrac sports the classic look and feel of a Ford Tractor that will appeal to people who grew up using their grandfather’s tractor.
    SCOTT HOLLIS
  • This Kubota is equipped with a bale spear and box blade. The spear makes moving bales easy, and the rear-mounted box blade allows you to smooth over bumps and ruts on unpaved roads.
    SCOTT HOLLIS
  • A belly-mounted finish mower makes lawn mowing fast and easy. Some tractors, such as this New Holland, features articulated front axles for steering in tight spots.
    SCOTT HOLLIS
  • Used on a sufficiently powerful tractor, such as this Massey Ferguson, a backhoe is ideal for excavation projects.
    BRYAN WELCH
  • Front-end loaders are useful for any number of homestead chores, not the least of which is transporting dirt as performed by this Montana.
    SCOTT HOLLIS
  • This John Deere rear rotary tiller is ideal for market gardeners who cultivate large plots of land.
    SCOTT HOLLIS
  • Compact Tractor Comparison Chart
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

No single piece of equipment can save you as much time and effort on your homestead as a good tractor. Today’s tractors mow, dig, move, plow, till, scrape, grade and even generate electricity more efficiently than ever before.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the right tractor, when properly equipped, can save the rural property owner or small farmer many hours of labor each year. And it’s no exaggeration to say that the wrong tractor will waste hundreds of hours of your time and make you want to pull your hair out.

So before you buy your first tractor — or replace the old workhorse — it’s important to understand what’s available for use on a small farm or acreage and how you might put it to use. (See our Compact Tractor Comparison chart in the Image Gallery to compare brands and models. — MOTHER EARTH NEWS)

Unless you’re operating a full-scale farm, you’ll probably want a compact tractor. Smaller, more versatile and less expensive than full-size farming tractors, compact tractors can handle almost any task. A new compact tractor with a typical set of implements will set you back $20,000 to $40,000. If you’re not ready to spend that much money, you may want to pay the farmer down the road who owns a tractor to help you out. In the process, you’ll learn about operating a tractor from an experienced neighbor.



If you’re set on owning a compact tractor, but your budget’s tight, shop for a used one. A word of caution though: Used tractors aren’t discounted as much as you might expect, and you may end up spending many frustrating hours up to your elbows in grease and hydraulic fluid, or spending a lot of money on maintenance if machine repair isn’t your specialty. Plus, unlike the new compacts, older tractors generally weren’t designed for today’s small-acreage property owner.

Before you begin shopping, make a list of the chores your tractor will need to perform — particularly the size of your jobs and the weight of things you will want to pick up. That list will dictate the size and type of machine you should purchase.






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