Things you need to know about tractors: Technical and non-technical considerations
Buying a tractor is not a plug-and-play decision. There are a number of important things that you need to know before you buy one.
The invention of tractors was a big relief to farmers from all over the world. It is said that tractors are the machines that officially took over the work from donkeys and horses from around the 17th century. Even though donkeys and horses were good at assisting farmers with work, they could only do not more than 70% of farm work, meaning that the remaining 30% was completed using human muscles, which was quite a huge burden to farmers. Therefore, the arrival of tractors was a very big relief because they were able to substitute muscle almost by 100%.
It is therefore very natural that every farmer on earth desires to buy and own a tractor, and a good tractor for that matter. You are here reading this blog because you are among the many millions of farmers who want to gather the right information before they make their next move of purchasing a tractor, either for self-use or for hire and rental services. If this is you, you are in the right place and I encourage you to read the article to the end.
When you embark on the journey of buying a tractor, you are required to study two aspects of a tractor for you to make the right decision. The first one is the technical configurations of the machine, and the second one is the non-technical considerations.
1: Technical specifications
Tractors are complicated machines with hundreds of moving parts, and therefore it can sometimes be intimidating to try to know what to consider when trying to buy one. If you are not highly knowledgeable in terms of machines such as tractors, you may need to seek the services of a product specialist from your local dealer to assist you in understanding (practically) the technical configurations of a tractor and what they mean in terms of work on the farm. The main parts of a tractors that will require your special attention include:
The engine is your tractor’s source of power, and therefore it provides the necessary energy to get the job done.
Choosing the right transmission type is a very important factor when buying a tractor.
Hydraulic power can be used in many ways. It makes tractor maneuverability easier, and it’s also used for lifting attachments and powering implements such as loaders.
· PTO shaft:
Power-take-off is a critical device located at the rear of the tractor and is used to transfer the engine mechanical power to another piece of equipment that does not have its own engine or motor.
For a tractor to be able to be attached to other pieces of equipment, there is a need for a point of contact, a point of attachment called a hitch. The three-point hitch is a technology that includes a hydraulic lift that serves at lifting and lowering equipment. There are some equipment that require specialized hitches which you need to be aware of before you buy a tractor, for example, front-end loaders and forklifts.
Good tires should provide heavy traction that enables you to work on diverse soils and weather conditions.
Other specifications may include headlights, cabin, comfort, and visibility, etc.
To get all these technical specs right, make sure you walk with your mechanic and let him understand the nature of work that you intend to do with the tractors once you buy it.
The above-mentioned technical specifications of a tractor are important for you to know before you make a move, they consist of the hardware part, but there are other non-technical aspects that you must bring into an intersection in order to come up with a perfect tractor buying decision.
In many people’s views, the non-technical considerations while buying tractors are sometimes considered more important than the technical excellence. Every machine is only good at the work it was manufactured to do technical specs notwithstanding.
Diving deep into some of the non-technical aspects that you need to assess, here are the 5 most important aspects:
2: The 5 non-technical things to consider before you buy a tractor
· The intended work
Your decision to buy a tractor is guided by the fact that you need some work done, and acquiring a tractor should help you meet that need, not less, not more (more may require you to spend unnecessarily more). Every type, size, and sometimes models of tractors are identified with a certain type of work. The first step in the tractor buying process is to understand the nature and the amount of work to be done in details. For instance, say you want a tractor to plow your 40 hectares of land, plant, and chemical applications like pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. With this in mind, you need to buy a tractor(s) that will allow you to make these operations possible within a reasonable timeline.
· Tractor brand
Choose your brand wisely because every brand has a story behind it. Even though most tractors from different manufacturers may have very close to similar technical configurations, you need to look at the history of every tractor brand and understand their level of commitment to supporting farmers. Certain brands like Massey Ferguson are known for their versatility and dependability, while the FENDT tractor brand is known for its top-notch technology and excellent customer support. A brand is not only a name, it’s a story and history.
· New or second-hand tractor
If you have the money, you should always desire to buy a new machine. Buying a new tractor may be a little bit more expensive than buying an old one. Nevertheless, you must do proper opportunity cost analysis to understand what you may lose by buying a second-hand tractor instead of a new one. New tractors come with a warranty and unrivaled after-sales support from the local dealer or supplier.
Second-hand tractors may be cheap, but remember that cheap is always expensive. A non-referenced study revealed that most farmers sell their tractors because of a defect, and sometimes to upgrade. Insist on a proper and holistic inspection before you settle down for less (second-hand tractor)
· Local customer support
Farming is a highly time-bound business. Farmers carry out farm activities in seasons, and sometimes with well-defined timelines. And because tractors are just machines, they will fail from time to time, especially when you least expect it. Do you remember what I highlighted as the advantage of buying a new tractor? When that tractor fails unexpectedly, you should have access to a technician or spare parts when you need them most. Most manufacturers work closely with local dealers and distributors to provide these services to original equipment owners. Conduct a proper situation analysis to determine the ability of the local dealer to serve you when you need them most.
· Your budget
Your budget is the last and the least thing to consider when buying a tractor. Farming is a very special field. You do not do what you can manage or afford, but you do what you must do. Even if you have millions of cash, you should never buy a tractor that is bigger than the intended work because this will only cost you money for nothing. Unlike when buying a personal car, if you have more money you can buy a bigger car, and vice versa.
If you do not have enough money, you should not buy a smaller tractor that is not capable of doing the intended work. Your budget should just be enough. This is the reason why agricultural financing is important, because for farmers, with or without money they must do what they must, otherwise their crops might fail.
This article is just a simple guide for beginners in agricultural mechanization especially anyone who intends to buy a new tractor. These 2 important things that you need to know before you buy a tractor will take you a long way to make the right decision on which tractor you need for your farm.
Remember to peruse other articles relating to agricultural mechanization on our website.