Spring into Implements: Seasonal Tractor Attachments
With the warm weather of spring approaching, there will be plenty to do around your large estate (from plowing fields to sweeping up debris). Here are three key attachments to get your crews sweeping, pulverizing and cutting this work season.
A broom or sweeper implement is a great choice for clearing leaves and snow, as well as every other mop up job — from caked on dirt to grass clippings. Most broom attachments for compact tractors are categorized by width (like sizes from 48 to 84 in.), the way they attach (rear or front) and the style of sweep (angle, rotary or push). Manufacturers typically offer similar hydraulic powered brooms, but most tractors would need a PTO-driven hydraulic pump to operate these brooms. If a tractor has a universal mount on the loader and has around 10 or 12 gpm of hydraulic flow, a hydraulic powered rotary broom can usually be run from the front of the tractor. Other options are available for the tractor and are usually powered from the rear PTO. There are also push brooms available for the rear of the tractor; this is a static-mounted broom that does not require PTO connection, but can be angled with a hydraulic cylinder if hydraulics are available. Push brooms can be very efficient and cost effective for light sweeping jobs, but angle brooms are most common.
Much like its cousin the landscape rake, disc harrows are used to prepare plots of unscaped earth for different uses. Instead of smoothing soil, disc harrows (also called “finishing discs” or “double-offset discs”) are used to open the ground and pulverize the soil in preparation for seeding. Disc harrows also do an excellent job of incorporating crop residue into the soil, thus accelerating the decomposition of this material and enhancing the soil’s potency. Disc harrows come in varying widths and varying blade diameter, often available in 66- or 78-in. widths with 16- or 18-in. blades. Disc harrows run off the back of the tractor and most compact utility tractors that are 20 hp and up will handle a disc harrow without problems. There are two main types of harrow discs — smooth and notched. Both are static attachments, which do not require hydraulics. Discs often have trailing spring-loaded cultivator shovels to assist in weed and trash removal and in the formation of small furrows. Discs are sized to a tractor by matching the tractor’s horsepower output to that of the disc horsepower requirement.
Among the advantages offered by a tractor-mounted log-splitter are power and speed at a relatively low initial cost. Some log splitters that attach to tractors can be used in a horizontal or vertical position and accommodate logs 4 to 36 in. long. More inexpensive models don’t have separate engines or hydraulic pumps and rely solely on the tractor’s power plant and hydraulic system, which results in much lower power to the piston of the splitter and universally slower cycle times. A unit with its own hydraulic pump will be able to run with the tractor at idle (saving fuel) and typically offers more power. The pricing equation will revolve around speed, durability and options. For example, some manufacturers offer four-way or six-way splitting wedges as an option. By just upgrading to a four-way wedge you immediately double your production with the same amount of work. Some units can change positioning by simply by pulling a pin, pivoting the unit and replacing the pin. Another excellent back-saver is the table grate. The table grate catches the split logs at waist level, so you don’t have to reach to the ground to pick them up.
Keith Gribbins is managing editor of Compact Equipment, based in Brecksville, Ohio.