Tractor manufacturers aren’t known for producing cutting-edge automotive technology, but the latest models are lightyears ahead of those made 20 or 30 years ago. Some newer models’ features can be handy depending upon your farming maintenance needs. Others may look great but provide little practical value. For small-farm owners needing a tractor, these three affordable models provide power, comfort, and functionality.
Selecting the right tractor
For small farms — those 231 acres or less — you might need a tractor for various purposes, like hauling material, bush hogging, mowing the lawn, or snow plowing. In general, when looking at a tractor for a small farm, you’ll need to consider the size of the three-point hitch, transmission style, and class (or size). Of course, you’ll also want to evaluate ergonomics and comfort for you and anyone else who might use it often.
Price is also important. Though you won’t be paying luxury SUV prices for a tractor, without doing some research, you might overpay for a model with features you won’t use or one that doesn’t function as you need. You’ll also want to consider total ownership costs, especially maintenance and expected repairs.
Though you could pay as much as $25,000 or $30,000 for a top-of-the-line subcompact tractor, you can find robust models for $15,000 or less. Tractor.com compiled a list of five of the best tractors in this price range, including top brands. And though Lamborghini has a little-known history of producing tractors, you won’t find one in this roundup.
3 top subcompact tractors
Tractor.com’s list includes the John Deere 1025R, Kubota BX1880, and Mahindra eMax 20S HST as its top three sub-$15,000 tractors in this segment. It’s no surprise John Deere, one of the best-known tractor brands, tops the list. The 4WD 1025R produces 23.9 hp, boasts power steering and hydrostatic transmission, and lifts 681 pounds. It has a relatively small, 57-inch wheelbase but plenty of comforts built into an ergonomic seat and headrests. This model starts at $14,301 and comes with several implements, such as a mid-mower deck, that you can swap quickly.
The Kubota BX1880 is a popular unit with 16.6 hp, hydrostatic transmission, and 680-pound lift capacity. This 4WD subcompact tractor has a flat operating station with a comfortable seat and armrest, along with a large selection of implements. They include front loaders, snowblowers, mowers, and rotary tillers. It starts as low as $9,683, but with accessories and implements, like a front loader and mower deck, it can easily surpass $15,000.
Rounding out the top three is the Mahindra eMax 20S HST. Producing 19.4 hp, the $14,850 eMax has a three-cylinder diesel engine and a hydrostatic transmission that provides enough power to get the job done. It also comes with a heavy-duty three-point hitch and front loader. This model has excellent fuel efficiency for this segment and lower operating RPMs. Plus, it’s comfortable with lots of seat and armrest cushioning.
Other options and considerations
Tractor.com also recommends the New Holland Workmaster 25S and the Massey Ferguson GC1723EB. Both are well-known brands with similar operating horsepower, size, options, and comfort. Depending upon your needs and budget, you’d likely do well with any of the above options.
And though you’ll find other options on the market, it’s best to avoid models that lift less than 500 pounds, produce less than 15 hp, or don’t have 4WD. Otherwise, they probably couldn’t perform the tasks you need to do, and you’ll overpay for equipment you can’t use. Before you invest in a small tractor, consider whether a compact or subcompact model will be best for your most common tasks. A good compact tractor runs upward of $25,000.
You should also consider emissions, as compact tractors usually produce more than 27 hp and, thus, require emissions systems. These systems can be costly to repair, driving up your total ownership costs. And you might need only the loading capacity and other functions a subcompact tractor provides. If so, consider one of the excellent aforementioned models.