The on-going mechanisation of agriculture has led to a dramatic growth in the level of food production, and one of the principal factors in this trend has been the introduction of today's extremely powerful and versatile tractors. Modern tractors bring previously unimagined levels of efficiency to a farm and allow high levels of productivity to be achieved with minimal wage costs. However, modern tractors are also expensive to buy, and before spending money on one, it is important to know what the purchase is intended to achieve. It is also important to understand the different categories of modern tractors available and to correctly analyse which is best for the buyer's purposes.
Only by setting clear objectives and then researching the market to find the most cost-efficient way of achieving those objectives can a buyer be sure that their tractor purchase turns out successfully. The research required must also include finding out where modern tractors can be purchased on the best terms. This often means looking beyond expensive local dealers and searching for a better range and more competitive prices. This is now easy to achieve thanks to the Internet where online markets such as eBay offer a good selection of new and used modern tractors at keen prices.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Modern Tractor
Modern tractors differ greatly from older tractors, even though their exterior may look the same. Modern tractors are frequently computer controlled and electronically driven in the same way that today's cars are. There is a choice of transmissions, drive systems, and tyre types, and all of these can affect the utility of the vehicle.
Modern tractors can range from about 16 horsepower up to about 500 horsepower, and their prices range commensurately. However, simply buying the largest tractor that can be afforded is not a proper approach to take.
Rigorous Analysis Is Required
Buying a tractor requires careful analysis of the tasks that it is going to be asked to perform and of the land area that it is going to be asked to service. This includes such factors as how rugged and steep the terrain is and the smallest area in which the tractor is going to be asked to turn or manoeuvre. Irregularly shaped fields can be a particular problem for large tractors, as can fields on a slope, or where there are outcrops of rock or other obstructions. Farms of less than five acres in extent may be able to manage with a mini-tractor, but for anything larger than five acres, a full blown tractor is likely to be required.
Assessing Horsepower Needs
Although horsepower is not the only factor determining the price of a tractor, it is a significant factor. This means that assessing the horsepower that is likely to be required is an important part of choosing a modern tractor. Buying a tractor more powerful than strictly necessary is likely to mean spending more money than is strictly necessary. And although a 500 horsepower monster parked on the farm may look impressive, if it is too large to service some of the fields or fit in the barn, it is not a good buy.
On the other hand, trying to save money by buying a tractor that is too small or underpowered for the tasks in hand is not a successful strategy either. Small or underpowered tractors may have difficulty ploughing some land or in pulling the equipment needed for cutting and baling hay, for example.
Drawbar Power and PTO Power
The raw power rating of a modern tractor is not on its own the best guide to its utility, as different tractors convert this power into usable energy in different ways. More helpful is knowing the power that a tractor can deliver when pulling equipment and the PTO (power take off) rating, which measure pulling strength and its ability to power units, such as balers or mowers.
Other Factors Affecting Horsepower
Bare horsepower is often a poor guide of a modern tractor's power in any case, as factors such as build strength, type of transmission, available torque, and weight of the tractor all greatly influence the ability of a modern tractor to carry out its functions. A 25 horsepower lawn cutting tractor weighing less than 400 kg is a vastly different tool from a 25 horsepower farm tractor weighing 2,000 kg.
Consider Four-Wheel Drive
Four-wheel drive can add several thousand pounds to a tractor's cost, but it may be a worthwhile option, especially if the terrain is uneven. By increasing the traction of the tractor, a four-wheel drive transmission can also effectively boost its horsepower rating, as it enables a given horsepower to execute tasks more easily. In this way, four-wheel drive can actually save costs, not to mention the added stability that it can bring. Since the majority of accidents involving tractors are from overturning incidents, greater traction and stability may be considered safety features as well as productivity related ones.
How to Buy a Modern Tractor
The first thing to do when planning a tractor purchase is to draw up a list detailing what the tractor is going to be used for. This, in combination with the acreage it is going to service, should help determine the size and power required. Try to establish values not just for horsepower required, but for the PTO rating required for the equipment you are planning on using.
The next decision is to consider the terrain, and leading on from this the transmission, drivetrain, and other specifications that best suit your purposes. Next, consider where the tractor is going to be housed. Unless you want the expense of erecting a new barn, it makes sense to buy a tractor that can fit into the current accommodation.
Next, think about whether you want to buy a new or used tractor. A recently manufactured used tractor can often represent a substantial saving in cost. On the other hand, a new tractor may have an attractive warranty. To some extent the decision may be one of personal preference, but your available budget may also help determine which to go for.
Finally, think carefully about where best to make the purchase. Local dealerships have a captive market and are rarely the cheapest place to buy. Better prices and more choice may be available online, where eBay have a good selection of modern tractors, both new and used.
Finding a Modern Tractor on eBay
It is easy to find modern tractors on eBay, just by entering "modern tractors" into the search bar on the eBay home page. This brings up pages full of listings for modern tractors currently available on eBay. You can browse through these listings to find the ones which best match your needs, or you can narrow them down further by specifying specific characteristics that you require. For example, if you know you want a tractor made by a particular manufacturer, you can specify that manufacturer's name. Or if you want a tractor that is new rather than used, you can specify that.
Given the cost of transporting a tractor cross country, you may also decide to specify that you only want to see listings within a particular distance from your address. This has the effect of making it easier to inspect the tractor before buying it, too.
You may well want to contact the seller to establish service history and other technical details, and this can be done easily via the contact information on their profile page. That page also shows feedback from past buyers, which should help you establish how helpful and reliable the seller is likely to be. Sellers with the best feedback are "Top Sellers" and should be especially helpful in dealing with your requests.
Although they may look like old tractors on the outside, modern tractors are different inside. They are powerful, often computer controlled pieces of machinery, which have helped greatly increase the efficiency and productivity of today's farms. Although modern tractors are very powerful, it is not a good idea just to buy the most powerful model that can be afforded. As power and cost are closely equated and many tractors are too large for a small farm, this would represent a waste of money. Instead, when setting out to choose a modern tractor, it is important to decide what tasks the tractor is going to carry out, and how much acreage it is going to service. This should help the buyer determine the number of horsepower actually required.
However, horsepower is not the only relevant factor. Weight, drivetrain, transmission and other structural factors also greatly influence the utility of a modern tractor, while knowing the drawbar power and the PTO rating may be more useful as indicators of utility than raw horsepower alone. Four-wheel drive in particular can act as a boost to the relative power of the tractor, as it increases traction and improves effective delivery of that power.
An important part of the buying process is to know where to get the best deal. Local dealerships may not be the best places to buy a modern tractor as they have a small, captive market and charge high prices. Better deals on modern tractors can often be found online, where Internet markets such as eBay have a good selection of modern tractors on offer at competitive prices. The breadth of products, ease of searching, and keen prices make eBay a good place to buy a modern tractor.