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 01-05-2008, 01:05 Post: 149888
banton

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Hello, all! First post, but a reader for a few months. Love the information, and just want to kind of see if my thinking is correct on a new tractor.

I have not driven one but I will test drive before I buy, however. My questions to you all are based on my needs.

I just purchased 5 acres, with two levels to the property. The new house will go on the top-most piece of the property (property is a rectangle, not a square). There is a 5-stall barn and 3 acre pasture on the property down below. In between the home "footprint" and the barn is a fairly good grade, but it is a pretty gentle slope. I intend to mow pasture and do the initial landscaping at the house (as well as cut the lawn weekly). We will also terrace a couple of levels of outdoor porches. Muck stalls, carry feed and hay, move rock, sand and dirt, and grade and finish the 1/4 mile driveway, dig a few additional post holes for fencing. No brush of any consequence, as the whole property is cleared. Trees, yes, but not too close together or too many. This is Washington State, so snow is not an issue.

So, I suspect that I will need an FEL as well as a blade, box scraper, tiller and a mower. I will rent a BH or trencher if the need arises. With that in mind, the next move should be to look at PTO on the tractors that I am considering, yes? Since I want the widest possible attachments available for a light-to-mid sized CUT, I'm thinking that I would need 25-27 PTO horsepower, which translates roughly to a 32-35 horsepower tractor. That should allow me to use 72" wide attachments, I think. Am I tracking so far??

Have seen Kabota 2800, 3030 and L30/40 Grand. The Kabota guy showed me his service and parts area when I asked to see them, and introduced me to the Service Mgr, who filled me in on what they see from both tractors for both warranty and after-warranty work. The sales guy was probably new, as he knew less about tractors than I do......

I have the space for the tractor in a loafing shed that is enclosed, and I can get up to the barn, but not the stalls. Can you say "wheel barrow"?

I would like to hear if my methodology is correct, and if I am missing something. Are my assumptions correct on the PTO horsepower requirements for usable implements? How much hp do I need and how much PTO hp for wide attachments (72" if possible)?

I would like to be able to mow the lawn without leaving ruts. Are these tractors too heavy? Will I be able to do the chores above while still being light enough to have a lawn?

Help me get the right ride!!

Thanks,






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 01-05-2008, 02:15 Post: 149890
candoarms



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Banton,

Hello, and welcome to the group. Nice having you aboard.

Let me see if I can help you, as I believe you have somehow mixed things up a bit.

You're wanting to know how much PTO horsepower you'll need in order to perform certain chores. I believe you've somehow been misled, or you simply misunderstood something you read.

The PTO shaft (located at the rear center of the tractor) is not used for plowing, cultivating, or for operating any blade or disk. The PTO shaft is a rotational drive shaft, which is used for powering those attachments which require more than a simple pull or push to make them work properly.........such as tillers, mowers, cement mixers, post-hole augers, grain augers, water pumps, electrical generators, balers, swathers, snowblowers, and many others.

For all other implements..... such as box blades, scrapers, plows, cultivators, disks, etc.......it is only necessary that your tractor has enough traction to pull the the implement along. These implements do not require any additional power from a PTO shaft.

Like you, I have about 5 acres of land that slopes downward to a small stream that runs through my pasture. I mow about two acres of my land, with the balance being garden and pasture area. Mowing around the trees in the yard was one of things I wanted my tractor to be able to do......which was one of the major factors in limiting the size my tractor. The tractor had to be big enough to perform all of my chores, yet small enough to clear the trees, and fit into the garage.

For mowing grass, my tire selection was very important. I didn't want tires that would tear up my sod as I turned. Therefore, I went with the turf type tires, as these are designed primarily for mowing duty......which is what my tractor's primary mission would be.

My next consideration was engine horsepower, because I wanted a tractor that would easily handle and power a mower of at least five feet in width. Any mower bigger than that would prevent me from getting between the house and the well, or between the well and the propane tank. Therefore, a mower of five feet in width was the MAXIMUM width acceptable.

It just so happens that it doesn't take much of a tractor to properly power a 5' mower. The Kubota B2100 is just the perfect size, and I was lucky to find a used one within 75 miles of me.

I use my 21 horsepower Kubota for everything I do around my farm......gardening, tilling, planting, grading, cultivating, plowing, seeding, spraying, and even mowing. There is nothing my Kubota won't do.......provided that I take care not to attempt to put any implement on it that the tractor is not capable of lifting or powering properly.

This means that I must be careful when selecting implements for my tractor. I could possibly pull a 6 foot disk, but with turf tires, my traction would be limited......therefore I went with a 5 footer. Same with a plow. I might have the power to pull a two bottom plow, but with turf tires, I settled for a single bottom, instead.

Hopefully this will help you gain a better understanding of the difference between traction, horsepower, and PTO ratings. While they do overlap in some areas, for the most part we're talking about three separate factors, which must be accounted for individually.

If you're still confused, please ask for further clarifications. I'll do my best to help explain this further.

Joel






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 01-05-2008, 03:32 Post: 149893
banton

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Joel-

Thanks for the informative piece, and I would bet that any new person here would benefit by it.

I understand about turf tires, but will they limit what I can lift with the FEL without spinning tires? Would they stop me from being able to pull implements up a decent grade? I ask because I don't see the primary mission of my tractor to be mowing, rather a combination of chores listed in my first post, with mowing being one of those chores. Now that i think about it, I won't really need to mow the pasture, as we have horses.

It sounds as though I do not need as large or powerful a tractor as I had thought, then. Would you recommend something a bit smaller, or stick with something between 28-30 hp?

Thanks again,

Bill






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 01-05-2008, 05:16 Post: 149895
candoarms



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Banton,

You would be surprised at how much I can do with my little 21 horsepower Kubota. It's a fantastic machine.

Determining the primary role for your tractor is the first step in deciding upon the proper size, weight, power, and tire combinations.

If you won't be doing much mowing, then you need to sit down and decide what the tractor's primary role will be.

If you plan on doing some farming with it, then I suggest that you go with a slightly bigger and heavier tractor, along with Agriculture (R1) type tires.

Traction is a combination of four things....Weight, Tire type, 4-wheel drive capability, and soil conditions. (Inclination being a given) The steeper the hill, the less traction you'll have. Even if you have the proper amount of traction, you'll then need the proper amount of horsepower to fight your way through the obstacles.

Let's say for a minute that you won't need turf tires. Maybe you can get by with Industrial tires. (R4)

Industrial tires are a compromise between turf tires and agriculture tires. While they have a slightly more aggressive tread than turf tires, they won't tear up the sod nearly as badly as will the big, deep, and aggressive bars on the Ag tires. It's possible that the Industrial tires would suit your needs better than the turf tires would. These tires would allow you to do some occasional mowing without doing much if any damage to the sod.

As for horsepower ratings, I'll leave that up to you. However, if it were not for the limitations I face in my yard, I'd much rather have a slightly bigger tractor. If it were up to me, I'd probably have myself a Kubota B7800, or a B3030. Either that, or the new Cub Cadet Ex3200. Unfortunately, the layout of my property poses a few obstacles that I MUST work around, and these greatly limit my options when it comes to picking a tractor.

Perhaps, someday in the future, I'll get myself a fully dedicated mowing machine. Once I do that, my tractor will then be freed up from that job -- meaning that I could then upgrade it, as well.

There is a slight possibility that I may end up with an additional eleven acres in the near future. My neighbor hasn't yet said yes.....nor has he said no. If I get that additional 11 acres, I'll be moving up in tractor size a whole lot sooner than I might have otherwise.

Good luck with your decision. If there is anything I can do to help further, please don't be afraid to ask.

Joel






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 01-05-2008, 12:09 Post: 149898
earthwrks

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Banton: You're on the right track. I have a 33hp rated 27 pto New Holland (TC33D) HST with SuperSteer and 4x4, no FEL (I have backhoe and skid steer for now and will buy one soon). It weighs about 3200 lb. It has a good compromise of weight versus traction versus cost. It will hande any 72" implement. I have a King Kutter 5' brush hog which is not overbuilt but heavy--under certian conditions I can lift the front wheels like climbing hills forward--and that's with 160lb. of front weights hanging off the front bumper.

Your loafing barn--be sure you can drop the ROPS (roll bar) if the overhang is too low. Not all ROPS are made to drop or fold back over to reduce overall height. That fact alone may narrow your choice for you. And seeing as you have multiple grade issues insofar as driving on them I wouldn't let anyone tell you to modify a non-folding ROPS to make it fit. You will compromise your and the tractor's safety.

And speaking from experience, if you have a lot of sun, you might want to consider a rigid sunshade or canopy. They make life sooo much easier being out in the sun for hours on end.






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 01-05-2008, 13:26 Post: 149900
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Good advice has been given so far. I generally believe that 25 pto hp will properly power a 60" rotary cutter in thick material (2" or thicker or very heavy, woody brush). It will also power a 72" rotary cutter in lighter brush or a 72" finish mower in normal situations. If you let the grass grow thickly for a month you will likely have to go slow with a 72" mower.






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 01-05-2008, 14:31 Post: 149902
banton

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Good stuff, guys, thanks!

I will be going back to Kubota today as well as the Kioti/Cub Yanmar dealer as well. Pouring rain here today, but I want to look at these again. The good news is that I should have the sales staff to myself today!

Regarding Kioti, I know that they are a heavier tractor. Is that a concern with a lawn?

Anyone else know of possible financing offers on Kioti?

Regards,

Bill






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 01-05-2008, 15:14 Post: 149906
candoarms



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Bill,

Weight is one of a lawn's many enemies. Soil compaction is bad for any lawn.

There are a couple of ways to help reduce the effects of the tractor's weight........

1. Make sure you never get into a routine of mowing the lawn in the same direction or path every time. Change your mowing pattern each time you mow. If you go around and around the first time, go back and forth the next. The third time, travel diagonally. This will prevent your tractor from traveling over the same ground repeatedly, reducing the compaction to a certain degree.

2. Use turf tires. Turf tires are much wider than the others, which reduces the number of pounds per square inch. With more tire surface, the weight of your tractor is spread out over a much larger area.

The combination of these two things will do a lot to help prevent your lawn from being torn up or compacted by the tractor.

Of course, I should mention that it is a very bad idea to do any mowing on a finished lawn when in 4-wheel drive. Nothing will tear up a lawn faster than by turning on it with the 4-wheel drive engaged.

It sounds to me as though you're going to have to make some compromises along the way. A bigger tractor might suit you well for certain jobs, but it appears that it may be very detrimental in others. You might want to pick a tractor that falls somewhere in the middle.

This shouldn't be a problem for you. Smaller tractors will do all of the things a bigger tractor will do....plus some. Big tractors don't fit well into small spots, nor do they turn very quickly. For cleaning out barn stalls, a small tractor will easily outperform a larger one.

The nice thing about these smaller tractors is that you can still plow the land, run a tiller, cultivate a crop, or mow even 10 acres......so long as you understand that the implements you choose must be smaller in size, and the time to perform these tasks will take considerably longer.

It's not easy to pick ONE tractor that will perform all of these jobs in an efficient manner. Most farmers have several tractors of different sizes, for just this reason. Guys like me don't have the luxury of keeping several tractors around.

If I were to ask my farmer friends, "If you could have just one tractor, which would it be?", they'd laugh at me. There is no possible way they could operate the farm with only one tractor.

Joel






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 01-05-2008, 16:02 Post: 149907
earthwrks

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Joel or anyone else: really one question with 2 parts: have you done or do you have any data on tire compaction AG versus Turf vs. R4; and/or empirical data on CUTs and the PSI they exert? What I'm curious about is, say, comparing a 'bota of your size and tire set up, to something like mine, to something in the 35-40 hp range with the same tires.

I read somewhere the Nebraska tests from the early 20th century yielded a lot of data that was cool to find out like steel wheels are much less efficient tractionwise and fuelwise versus rubber tires with the same tread






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 01-05-2008, 16:23 Post: 149910
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Earthwrks,

While I've never taken part in any of the actual testing, I can tell you that there is a huge difference in the amount of pressure per square inch applied to the ground when the tires are switched out.

As a kid, I learned from my grandfather (a carpenter) that the worst thing anyone could ever do to a floor was to wear high heels when walking on it. High heels place a very heavy load on the floor, per square inch. With the heel being less than 1/4 square inch, the weight of even a small woman would apply nearly a ton of pressure per square inch to the floor.....easily denting a sheet of plywood -- destroying a piece of carpet, as well as tile.

The same principle applies to tires. Ag tires, for example, are designed to place the full weight of a tractor in a very small area. With the full weight of the tractor being applied to a very small amount of surface area, the tire treads actually sink into the firmly packed soil, increasing the tractor's traction by a huge amount.

Rubber tires work much better than steel wheels, because the tire flexes, allowing for better contact with the soil. The rubber tire also exerts lateral pressure on the soil....that is.... to the sides of the depression made by the tire.

The lateral pressure being exerted on the sidewall increases traction by an even greater margin. For even better traction in loose soil, it is best to reduce tire pressures by quite a bit, so as to help increase the lateral traction being applied by the flattened sidewalls.

The differences in pressure per square inch applied to the soil, when comparing turf tires and ag tires, is TREMENDOUS.

Agriculture tires will aid in traction in most situations, due to the amount of weight being applied per square inch.

This is not the case, however, when talking about ice, where surface area is the most important factor -- and in mud, where flotation is a huge benefit.

Joel






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