machine; tractor; costs; mechanisation

Mechanisation: Pointers for buying a tractor

Before buying a tractor, you should first decide what it is going to be used for and whether you should rather consider purchasing a second-hand tractor.

Thorough planning is the first step when buying expensive equipment and implements.

Most commercial farmers need a tractor, but for many a newcomer, a new tractor may be too expensive. A wide range of good, used tractors, however, is available at more affordable prices.


Have a good look at everything you are going to use the tractor for, then buy the model that suits your needs. It does not make sense trying to use a 45 kW tractor to pull an implement that requires 75 kW.

It is equally senseless to use a 100 kW tractor to merely tow a trailer that needs only 50 kW. Again consider any future needs responsibly.

The following guidelines can be used when deciding what tractor to buy:

  • If you need the tractor for crop farming, you’ll probably use it for ploughing, planting, cultivating and harvesting.
  • The size (or kW) of the tractor you need, will depend on the number of ploughshares or tines on the implement, till depth, and the type of soil being tilled.
  • The same considerations apply to the planter, harvester, hay- and fodder-making equipment such as balers, cutters, rakes, and other implements that your tractor will be pulling. Any supplier of such products will be able to tell you the minimum kW requirements of the tractor you need.


If you want maximum traction, longest tyre life and undamaged soil structure, it is important to get the most out of your tyres and your tractor.

You need to know how your tractor is going to be used and how much load the tyres will have to carry for the different applications and implements.

  • Wider tyres are better for tilling and planting.
  • A wide tyre obviously makes a wider track, which means less pressure on the soil and therefore less soil compaction.
  • The soil remains looser, which eases the implement’s passage when cutting, swirling, and preparing for planting.
  • Loose soil is not only easier to till; its capacity to absorb water is also better, which means better root development.
  • Tests have shown that a tractor’s tyres could compact soil to a depth of between 30 cm and 50 cm.
  • The importance of tyre width should therefore not be underestimated.
  • Moreover, loose soil requires less power to till – which saves fuel and time.


  • Correct tyre pressure is one of the secrets in putting a tractor’s power to its most effective use on soil.
  • Dropping the pressure of the tyre to the lowest recommended limit decreases the pressure of the wheel on the soil.
  • This results in a more effective extended track (the width of the track remains practically the same).
  • An extended track means that more lugs grip the soil and therefore improve traction.
  • This improves performance when ploughing at the time when a tractor needs to generate more forward power than carrying or upward power capacity.

When you are ploughing deeply, load replacement occurs from the plough to the tractor (the tractor is pushed downwards). However, it can easily be compensated for with large tractor tyres.

Wider and bigger tyres provide sufficient carrying capacity, even at higher speed, and wider tyres are also more stable and suitable for uneven fields. Working pace is increasing constantly and farmers will have to adapt their set-up to reach the best compromise between speed, tyre slip, and tilling depth.

It may seem like extra trouble to adjust tyre pressure for different operations, but it really makes a difference to all aspects of tyre performance. Tyre pressure can affect a tractor’s performance more than many other costly technological aspects. Refer to a tyre pressure booklet to enhance your tractor’s performance.


  • Daily maintenance of tractors is of the utmost importance.
  • It extends the life of the tractor and improves the cost effectiveness of the product. Remember, small defects that are not repaired can lead to bigger problems and costly outlays.
  • Always be mindful that dust is one of our greatest enemies on a farm in Africa, therefore replace the air, diesel and oil filters regularly, as prescribed by the supplier.
  • This will extend the life of the engine and improve diesel consumption.


  • Better traction
  • Higher operation speed
  • Better performance in the field and on the road
  • Less soil compaction
  • Faster working pace
  • Improved shock-absorption and comfort
  • Higher carrying capacity
  • Better fuel consumption
  • Improved durability
  • Lower noise- and vibration-levels

Source: Tech News

Also read:
Correct tyre pressure saves money!
Don’t buy cheap tyres!

  • This article was written by Hans van den Berg and first appeared in Farming SA

share this