How to Select a Compact Tractor

Ken Burner discusses how to select a compact tractor. Find the perfect small tractor for your needs, including pros and cons of different brands, as well as uses for extended features and attachments.

| April/May 2002

Use our handy guide showing you how to select a compact tractor.

How to Select a Compact Tractor

In 1996 my wife and I purchased a house on 15 acres in suburban Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The land, which had been neglected for many years, consisted of about two acres of lawn, another two acres of badly overgrown pasture, and the remainder was wild woods. We knew we needed a tractor to help us take care of it all, but what kind, how big, what features and how much were all questions we hadn't a clue how to answer. Since then we've learned a lot about tractors from friends, neighbors, tractor dealers and, of course, the Internet. We also learned we weren't alone: Lots of other people moving from a city environment to a rural one had many of the same questions about tractors. This article is condensed from the information we've learned about tractors over the past several years. I decided to gather the common questions and answers we'd discovered into a Web site called "The Small Tractor FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)." You are welcome to visit the website (, which contains links to tractor manufacturers, implement suppliers, tractor discussion groups and lots of other information and resources for and about small tractors. 

What size tractor do I need for my number of acres?

That depends on what you want to do with the tractor and what your land is like. If you just want to mow grass on a fairly small, flat, level yard, a riding mower will probably be all you will need. On the other hand, if you want to plow a field, bale hay, pull stumps or exchange implements with neighbors, you'll need a more powerful machine.

Take a look at the "Tractor Selection Chart" in the image gallery. Under "Characteristics," note the differences among the four tractor categories and decide which category best fits your work environment. Under "Uses," determine which tasks you will want to do with your tractor and note which tractor categories are capable of performing those tasks.

Which brands of tractor are good and which are bad?

7/25/2017 5:14:07 AM

I'm very interested in the tractor selection article and wanted to view the indicated chart/table(s) and reference them while reading the piece. However, I couldn't find the "image gallery" or the tables mentioned. What am I missing? I'm new to the website so perhaps I've overlooked something. Please advise. MissL

9/16/2015 6:56:58 AM

I tried for this info in fewer days. and I decided to buy an old ford tractor. actually, I did it after going throw the article from this link. what do you suggest me?

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