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Small Farm Tractor Buyer’s Guide - Sub Compact Tractors

6/11/2018 11:46:43 AM by Carissa Shaul

A Tractor Finder Guide for Today’s Modern Farm Tractors


Back in the day, a tractor was a tractor, but today there is a wide array of options available, and that can be overwhelming. Follow along in this blog series as we clarify a few things about today’s modern lineup, and help you decide what class of tractor will suit you best.

Classy Tractors

Tractor manufacturers now offer many sizes of tractors, typically grouped by “class.” These classes are designed with a target customer in mind so ability, power, options, and price points vary accordingly. Generally speaking, all tractor manufacturers offer a sub-compact, compact, mid-size, and full-size class range. Not all dealerships offer all the classes, so understanding what class you’re shopping for will help when deciding where to shop.

Sub Compact

Sub-compact tractors are the bottom of the power curve and are (generally speaking) like a lawn tractor on steroids. Tractors in this class are limited to a Cat-0 hitch because of their size. Most of the sub-compact tractors of today are compatible with front-end loaders, but with load limits of 500 lbs or less at the bucket, they qualify as self-propelled wheelbarrows.

Thanks to the sub-compact craze, manufacturers are now offering mid-ship PTOs in most, if not all tractors. Mid-ship PTOs are “power take off” points, much like the rear PTO spline that can run your bush hog. These mid-ship, or belly PTOs allow a tractor to power a belly mower, like your typical ride-on lawn tractor, only much bigger. Having a mid-ship PTO also opens up the option of adding a front mounted, PTO-driven snow blower, which appeals to those of us in the northern climates. Many sub-compact tractors are now available with diesel engines and four-wheel drive, which is a major upgrade in usability. You can expect horsepower ratings to be in the teens or low 20’s at best, which limits what sort of equipment you can run.

If you want a big lawn tractor with a bucket loader, this just might your ticket. . If you’re serious about farming, you are likely to be disappointed by a sub-compact tractor’s lack of power, ability, or performance. If the biggest load you plan to lift is grass clippings and leaves, then you can expect to pay around $12,000 for this garden tractor.