Discover Versatile Compact Tractors

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

| April/May 2006

Compact Tractors

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.


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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