If you own a small farm, you know that there are lots of chores to do and many of them require a bit of horse power. These days there are many different types of compact tractors available to suit the needs of even the smallest agricultural set up. In this article, we outline 17 reasons that you need a good tractor for your small farm + 4 things you shouldn’t do with your tractor. Read on to learn more on what does a tractor do on a farm.
What You'll Learn Today
- What Can You Do With A Tractor On A Small Farm?
- 1. Land Clearing
- 2. Mowing
- 3. Brush Hogging
- 4. Stopping Wildfires
- 5. Landscaping Your Yard
- 6. Cultivating
- 7. Harvest Your Crops
- 8. Taking Care Of Your Livestock
- 9. Build Fences
- 10. Manage Construction Projects
- 11. Handle Fire Wood
- 12. Remove Snow
- 13. Using It As A Workhorse
- 14. Always Have A Power Backup
- 15. Transportation In An Emergency
- 16. Using The Tractor For Everyday Driving Tasks
- 17. Have Fun!
- 4 Things You Cannot/Should Not Do With A Tractor
- Final Words
What Can You Do With A Tractor On A Small Farm?
1. Land Clearing
If you have trees, heavy brush and rocks to get out of the way, you’ll definitely need a tractor for pulling, hauling and heavy lifting. Implements you’ll need to take care of these tasks include a winch for pulling loads, and a front end loader for pushing.
Brush pullers can help you pull up saplings and bushes by the roots. If you have heavy loads to carry, you should invest in a rear carrier that puts the weight over the rear axle.
Mowing, which is arguably the most common yard work task can actually be done using a compact or sub-compact tractor. The mower attachment allows the tractor to quickly transform into a finish mower ready to tackle clean, close cuttings of common lawn grass.
If you have a large property that includes rocky terrain and pastures, you can use the rotary cutter attachment for maintaining and grooming. The attachment is pulled behind the tractor and is used to trim long, thick grass, and is built to withstand gravel or even larger rocks that can damage a finish mower.
3. Brush Hogging
One of the most common jobs for a small tractor on a small farm is brush hogging. This is the act of weed clearing and removing underbrush.
It’s a very important activity for taking care of your trails and your pastures. It also helps prevent overgrowth of young trees and saplings in areas that have been cleared for pasture.
For this job, you’ll need a brush hog attachment five or 6 feet wide. You may also want to get a finish mower attachment to take care of the lawn around your house.
4. Stopping Wildfires
Stopping wildfires from spreading is another smart way to use tractors. Fires are perhaps the worst thing that can ever happen to a farmer.
In such a situation, a tractor can be used for irrigating the land around the fire perimeter thus containing the fire and ensuring that it doesn’t spread. It might sound unbelievable, but it may get slightly hot from the driver’s seat, but it actually does work.
5. Landscaping Your Yard
A small tractor is a wonderful tool to have for making the most of your yard. With your own tractor, you can put in a retaining wall, dig a fishpond, plant trees and bushes, grade a yard, move obstructive rocks out of the way and/or place decorative rocks exactly where you want them.
Implements that you may need for these purposes include a rock roller and a post hole auger.
If you want to plant crops, you’ll need to be able to plow, disk, harrow and plant your fields. You’ll also want to be able to pick the stones out of the earth. All of these things are very hard to do manually, but the right tractor can help you make short work of it.
Implements you’ll need include cultivators, seed drills, discs, plows and manure spreaders. If you plan on planting some fruit trees, an auger is a good tool to have.
7. Harvest Your Crops
You can use your tractor to harvest your aboveground vegetables, your potatoes, your fruit and nuts and your hay. You just need to have the right implements on hand to make these jobs easy.
These include, potato diggers, tree shakers and various hay harvesting implements including sickle bar mowers, rakes and square balers.
8. Taking Care Of Your Livestock
The right tractor with the right implements and tires can help you carry bags of grain and bales of hay with ease. Furthermore, you’ll be able to place large loads (such as around bale of hay) precisely where you want it.
Being able to handle round bales of hay with ease can save you a lot of money in the long run because hay is quite a bit cheaper to buy in this form than in square bales.
Your farm tractor and front-end loader is invaluable when you need to transport a downed cow or other injured livestock.
Whenever you move a downed cow, remember that they need to be handled somewhat gently and quite humanely. Key to moving a downed cow successfully is placing her on a proper surface.
The loading bucket of a front end loader is just such a surface, but be sure you don’t just scoop the cow up with the bucket. You must position the bucket close to the cow and then roll her in.
Furthermore, this implement makes it much easier to move all manner of heavy materials around your farm, manage manure and remove snow.
If you plan to plant and process your own hay, you’ll definitely need a tractor for mowing, raking and bailing.
9. Build Fences
You can use your tractor to carry rolls of wire and other fencing material. You can use your post hole auger to dig post holes. You can carry bundles of posts around in your front end loader. All of this is extremely helpful when putting up fence.
10. Manage Construction Projects
In any building project, a tractor is an indispensable tool. With your post hole auger, you can dig the holes needed for structures such as pole barns.
You can use your backhoe to move gravel and sand, dig foundations and much more. You can use your loader (with forks) to unload all of your materials including bags of cement, roofing materials and lumber. In some properties, you may need to cut your own road.
11. Handle Fire Wood
If you are cutting firewood on your own property, you can drive your tractor to the site, load up the front end loader and bring the entire load home all in one day. A good tractor will be able to navigate difficult terrain in the woods without damaging the soil.
If you have big trees to cut down and chop into firewood, you can get a splitter that will work using the hydraulics of your tractor, or even a firewood processor that can cut and split logs all at once producing several cords an hour.
12. Remove Snow
After a heavy snowstorm, you can use your four-wheel-drive tractor equipped with a front end loader and a blade to clear your driveway and the roads and help out your neighbors as needed.
In very inclement weather, equipped with tire chains, you can use your tractor to pull cars out of ditches.
13. Using It As A Workhorse
The majority of people assume that the only role of a tractor is moving goods from one area to another or turning over the earth. That’s all good, but smart farmers will take that task and multiple it by 10 and end up making a very impressive mule out of their tractors.
Tractors generally have lots of horsepower under the hood, so rather than simply getting out the pickup truck, you can simply grab some straps and haul bags of rice, bags of soil, cut wood, or just about anything you want with the tractor. It will probably even cost less in gas and help you do the work faster.
14. Always Have A Power Backup
In the event your power goes out, you can connect a 110 V inverter to the battery of your tractor to produce a power supply that you can use to run communication equipment, household lights, computers and any electrical tools that you need.
15. Transportation In An Emergency
If there’s a natural disaster, you may not be able to get out in your regular vehicle; however, your tractor may be able to get you to help or safety. Furthermore, if you have a tractor you may be able to help out in an emergency by clearing roads to help utility crews get through.
16. Using The Tractor For Everyday Driving Tasks
You might not have heard this, but it is actually possible to use a tractor as your main vehicle if that’s what you like. People sometimes remodel tractors to make them look a bit more roadworthy and spruced up, while others drive them around town on errands.
It makes perfect sense if you are just out of the firm to drive the tractor into town if you need to buy something. That way, you won’t need to change and you won’t need to backtrack. Just drive off the land towards the town and you can be on your way towards the grocery store or hardware store and you can carry your bags in the bucket.
17. Have Fun!
During the holidays, you can become very popular by using your tractor to pull a flatbed trailer and give folks a hayride. Aside from the hayrides, tractors are just generally fun and good to have around.
4 Things You Cannot/Should Not Do With A Tractor
We’ve discussed things that you can do with a tractor on your small farm, so now let’s review a few things that you cannot or should not do with a tractor.
Most of these revolve around the basic concept that a tractor is not a car, truck or any other on-road vehicle. While there may be times when you’ll need to drive your tractor on the road, these should be few and far between and limited when they occur.
1. When you drive your tractor on the road, you must take great care to follow all the rules of the road and to exercise extra safety precautions.
For example, of course, you should not text while driving a tractor, and even in situations where you legally have the right-of-way, you should always yield right-of-way for safety’s sake. Always err on the side of caution.
2. You should not use four-wheel-drive when you’re driving on pavement. Doing so is very hard on your transmission and causes excessive tire wear. Always switch to two – wheel – drive for any extended trip on paved roads.
When you make this switch, it’s important that you understand that your braking performance will be a bit less than with four-wheel-drive. This is because you will have no braking capability in your front wheels. Proceed with caution, especially if you are pulling a load.
3. You may not be able to drive at the speed limit on public roads, and you are always safer driving at least slightly below the speed limit.
Remember that your tractor is a slow moving vehicle (SMV). As such, it should be correctly labeled with an SMV sign letting other vehicles know to expect you to amble along at a modest pace. An SMV sign should also be affixed to the back of any implements you may be towing.
4. A tractor cannot make sharp turns at high speeds. When you’re driving on the public roads, remember that your tractor has a much higher center of gravity than a passenger car or truck.
If you try to make a sharp turn at a high rate of speed, you’re very likely to overturn. Always proceed slowly and cautiously. Plan your route in advance and be ready for turns.
TIP: If you are hauling three point mounted implements, be sure to secure the three point hitch in a locked, upward position. Never attempt using the three point hitch control lever during transport.
A tractor is a wonderful thing to have around the farm, and it can lighten your workload and help you handle a wide variety of tasks much more efficiently. It’s also important to remember that this piece of heavy machinery can be quite dangerous or even lethal.
Always put safety first! Here’s a handy resource you may wish to consult.
You can buy an older tractor inexpensively, or you can invest in a new tractor that has all the bells and whistles including heat and air conditioning in the cab, hydrostatic transmission and four-wheel-drive.
You’re sure to enjoy the power and ease of having just the right tractor to suit your needs on your homestead. And if you’re selling your tractor, here is our guide on how much it may be worth.