Prior to purchasing implements for a compact tractor, you should make a list of all the critical applications, now and for the future on their wish list, and then prioritize the jobs in order of importance. This can be a bit tricky since the job that you spend the most time on today may not be the reason for purchasing the tractor. By attempting to identify your future equipment needs, you will be better prepared for larger, more diverse applications down the road. Using online tools can help you assess the possibilities for your specific tractor.
Don’t take a chance on miss-matched attachments. When purchasing other attachments or implements not made by the tractor manufacturer, remember to do some homework and discuss your options with your dealer. It’s easy to do research on the Internet and learn about features and benefits, but be sure the product meets the minimum standards for a three-point hitch and PTO driveline design, and watch the implements weight so it’s not too heavy. Don’t test attachment functionality on your own. When purchasing implements that are not performance-matched you run the risk of breaking the implement, the tractor and putting your safety at risk. Leave it to the manufacturer to do the detailed engineering tests to check the specifications, application, fit, functionality and other important steps needed to determine readiness for use.
Bundling a new tractor with the implements at the point of sale is the best advice a first-time buyer can be given to ensure optimal customer satisfaction throughout the buying experience. Not only that, but it builds customer confidence that you have purchased the right tractor for your needs. First decide on the size and horsepower of the tractor you need, and then purchase attachments and implements to match that size of your tractor.
1. Front Loader: Loaders are the No. 1 mounted implement. Front loaders offer versatility and ensure precise operation and improved productivity. Plus, front loader implements offer increased lifting capacity, perfect for farm use. Series valves with a regenerative bucket feature are the standard for all loaders. It’s important to consider a front loader with strong breakout force, lift capacity and lift height. For convenience, consider a front loader with a quick-attach system — a two-pin system that allows quick and easy switching from a standard bucket to new front attachments. Look for a curved boom so it offers a better field of vision during front loader operations.
2. Mowers (Finish and Rotary Cutter): Finish mowers typically have a cutting height range of 3/4 in. to 5 ½ in. and are available in 60- to 70-in. models, but have the option of being front-, mid- or rear-mounted. If mower visibility is important, then a front- or mid-mounted mower would be a good fit; if you prefer a quick-on, quick-off attachment, then a rear-mounted mower is more your speed. Despite the mounting, finish mowers have an optional side discharge feature (rear discharge is standard and allows you to get closer to objects) and chain shields. While shopping around, consider the application and keep in mind that a free-float hitch is necessary on the tractor to allow the mower to follow the ground’s contours. For more info, go to page 33.
Rotary cutters are used for weed, pasture and roadside maintenance. The rotary cutter is at the top of many customers’ needs to maintain their property and keep it in a nice looking appearance. Rotary cutters have cutting heights ranging from 2 to 14 in. and 3 in. of diameter. Typically, rotary mowers feature a single vertical drive spindle and blade carrier with a “stump jumper” pan and shear bolt or slip clutch to protect the driveline and gearbox from damage. A chain shielding protects the operator and complies with OSHA regulations. Generally made for larger 40- to 70-PTO hp tractors, rotary mowers are available in widths between 60 and 72 in. with 3/8- or 1/2-in. reversible blades. First-time buyers should look for heavy gauge deck construction and a heavy-duty stump jumper.
3. Backhoe: A backhoe delivers power and greater digging capacity. A backhoe implement is also a great solution when you’re working in small or restrictive areas. It offers easy attachment and detachment and with an 8-ft digging depth, a backhoe is a star workhorse for virtually any job. Plus, a quick-attach backhoe allows operators to install Category 1 implements to tailor their compact tractor’s specific needs. Important advantages to consider and compare when adding a backhoe-loader to your fleet include a quick-attach backhoe that exposes a three-point hitch, integral mainframe, hydraulic self-leveling loader control valves and auxiliary hydraulics to the loader and backhoe.
An integral mainframe absorbs twisting loads during backhoe and loader operation. A braceless loader frame will improve visibility and access for serviceability. The hydraulic self-leveling loader control valve improves pallet fork work and is easily “shut off” for normal operation. In addition, be sure the model includes backhoe crawling mode, which allows the operator to move the machine along the trench in either direction, all the while at the backhoe controls, saving time and money while re-positioning down a long trench.
4. Front- or Rear-Mounted Blades: With a front-mounted blade, in either 60- or 72-in. width, a single quick-hitch, heavy-duty hydraulic power angle fits the bill for a wide range of applications. Primarily designed for snow removal operations, the blade can also push feed and gravel. A trip spring lockout system will protect the structural integrity of the blade regardless of what it encounters along the way, and replaceable skid shoes will prevent gouging or cutting into the ground too deep. For general grading applications, the rear-mounted blade on the three point hitch becomes a versatile low-cost implement for grading purposes.
5. Front- and Rear-Mounted Snowblowers: When snow removal is the chore at hand, choose from either a front- or rear-mounted snowblower. Ranging from 51- to 64-in. cutting width, both feature replaceable cutting edge, manual or hydraulic chute rotation, and optional drift cutter extension, which increases the cutting width by 5 in.
Paul Williams is a senior product manager at Kubota, based in Torrance, Calif.