When budgets are tight and so is time, compact tractors can be a good addition to your fleet. Compact tractors are versatile and light, so they can get a lot done without disturbing turf. Add in the different attachment options and you have a piece of equipment you can use year-round for everything from mowing to trenching to snow removal.
“Depending on what application you’re doing, the time saved by using a compact tractor instead of manual labor can be astronomical,” says Robert Cockroft, Kubota senior product manager, sub and compact tractors. “A small tractor’s main advantage is its ease of use and versatility.”
“With all the implements and attachments available for compact tractors these days, the list of tasks a customer can do is virtually endless,” Cockroft says.
Choosing the right attachments starts with knowing your tractor model. Many attachments require a certain horsepower, chassis size and lift capacity to operate properly. And, of course, knowing your jobsites is also crucial. Dealers can help make the appropriate decisions.
KIOTI Regional Sales Manager Tim Phillips says you want to focus on two main attachments – the front-end loader and the backhoe – for day-to-day use. The front-end loader allows for movement of heavy materials while the backhoe is perfect for digging retention walls and trenches, uprooting trees and more, he says.
You’ll also want to consider the number of operators, the size of attachments and transportation. Training is key as well. “Inexperienced operators may find difficulty with the operation of the equipment, which could lead to improper usage,” Phillips says.
You may also want to look at ease of attachment and detachment if you’re planning to switch attachments frequently.
Skid-steers vs. compact tractors.
Skid-steers are a great choice for operations like loading material or other less dynamic jobs, but they tend to be more costly and heavier than compact tractors. Skid-steers do a good job, but they are not as versatile or easy to use, Cockroft says.
If you need to protect turf, like on landscape renovation jobs, a compact tractor may also be a better option.
“All jobs around an established property can benefit from a compact tractor, whereas a skid-steer would be overkill and more costly,” says Troy Blewett, director of marketing for Steiner.
And generally, compact tractors last 15 years or more with the proper maintenance, Blewett says, so it can be a good investment.
On the horizon, expect more versatility and connectivity on compact tractors since fleet management, GPS and other Internet of Things applications are making their way from agricultural tractors down to smaller equipment, Blewett says. “The days of having a different machine for each application are over.”
There are also a number of new frame sizes and horsepower options coming soon, as well as more cab offerings for comfort. “We’re seeing landscape contractors and large property owners alike continue to purchase in favor of durability and ease of use,” Phillips says.