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Types Of Tractors: A Guide To Making Heavy Duties Easy

by Jordan Harris
Types Of Tractors

Tractors are a very common tool in construction sites, farms, and backyards. The word tractor was derived from the Latin word “trahere” which means “to pull”. In this article, we delve deep into the evolution, implication, and application of different types of tractors that have existed since the inception of tractors in the 1820s.

Contents of this article entail;


The tractor was one of the major byproducts of the industrial revolution. Tractors made a huge impact in agriculture right from their inception. Ancient tractors were powered by wood or coal-fired steam engines.

These steam engines used heavy leather belts to drive two gigantic wheels on a single axel, hence helped in providing propulsion. Older tractors were primarily aiding to pull tillers across the farmland, therefore replacing hoses, mules, and human labor.


This soared the amount of land that could be tilled in a day. Unfortunately, steam-driven tractors were not reliable and were prone to explode due to pressure buildup in the boilers. The leather belt could easily wear and tear, then eventually break while the tractor is in use. This often caused serious injuries or even death to the operator.

As the industrial revolution was gradually getting to its peak in the 1850s, steam-driven tractors became popular in farms across America and Europe throughout the 19th century.

As the 20th century was nearing, the tractor was morphing into a three and four-wheeled machine that could be driven.

Modern-day tractors have become more advanced, sophisticated, and very expensive machinery. However, their basic application hasn’t changed since their invention. Tractors are still designed to push or pull things from place to place.

Today, tractors are designed in different sizes and applied in several functions, rather than agriculture alone. There are two main basic designs of a tractor;

  • Those that have other devices built on them.
  • Those that have other devices attached to them either at the back, middle, or front. The attachments can be done through hitches or coupling.

What is Tractor

A tractor is a type of vehicle only manufactured to provide high torque at very low speeds. It can haul a trailer or heavy machinery that helps in agriculture, construction, and industrial duties. The tractor is the combination of two words, “traction and motor.” A tractor mainly helps to pull heavy loads for different farming activities.

There are a variety of agricultural activities performed by farmers, and for every task, the farming implement and machinery are required. According to the farmer’s needs and demands, there are many types of tractors available to help meet such needs and demands.

Different Types Of Tractors

There are different types of tractors that are in use today in different spheres of work. These tractors can be classified into various categories depending on their purpose.

Utility Tractors

Utility tractors are types of tractors that are applied in farm operations, such as plowing and pulling heavy farm implements.

These tractors are a perfect fit to perform agricultural tasks in the instance where a farmer cannot purchase additional machinery to help perform tasks.

Utility tractors range from 45 Hp to 140 Hp. They are utility tractors because they can perform various functions (multifunction).

These tractors have low to medium engines hence can pull heavy implements with ease. The engines are gasoline or diesel-powered. Different devices can be easily attached to utility tractors to enable them to perform various agricultural tasks. Such devices include;

  • Harvesters
  • Tillers
  • Hay cutters
  • Threshers

Compact Tractors

The next type of tractor is the compact tractor. These types of tractors help in vineyards, fruit yards, and nut yards. They are designed in a manner that the driver can sit comfortably and choose the hanging fruits or trim the trees at the same time.

The best advantage of compact tractors is that they can be adjusted depending on the space of the yard. Compact tractors come at a smaller size, and it consumes less fuel that saves money.

Row Crop Tractors

Just as their names suggest, row crop tractors help in farms where farmers intend to plant crops in rows. These types of tractors are all-around tractors in that they can perform various farming tasks you need to do.

These can include weed control, leveling, plowing, harrowing, and pulling seed drills. They have various advantages, such as being user-friendly, adequate row spacing, comfortable driving, greater ground clearance, ease of steering, ease of attaching and detaching different attachments.

Industrial Tractors

Industrial tractors are types of tractors that mainly help in industrial activities more than agricultural activities. Initially, these tractors were named tuggers. Industrial tractors mostly help in pulling heavy loads in industries and can also attach to cranes to help in the lifting of heavyweights easily.

These tractors differ from agriculture tractors. They do not have a three-point hitch as farming tractors. These tractors have drawbars, and they come in various models with HP’s strengths capable to handle heavy industrial duty.

Garden Tractors

Garden tractors come in the engine power range of 1 hp to 20 hp. These types of tractors have tiny construction sizes and can only be used in light duties.

These tractors mainly help in cutting off the grass and making the flower beds in your garden. The wheels of the garden tractor resemble that of a scooter but are much thicker. Until now, over 100 different garden tractors have been made.

Implement Carrier Tractors

Implement carrier tractors are types of tractors that help farmers to carry and mount different agricultural implements within the farms. Therefore, the chassis frame between the front and rear tires is extended to enable the attachment of various implements.

The attached implements may include sprayers, drills, loaders, rotary sweepers, seed drills, and many more. They come in different sizes and designs depending on the load of work they can handle.

Earth Moving Tractors

Earthmoving tractors are types of tractors mainly found in construction sites, quarry sites, and dam work sites. These types of tractors are extremely huge, heavy, and come with powerful engines, able to perform very heavy construction works.

Some earthmoving tractors have got wheels made of tires, while others have tracks ailing them to access even the most difficult and harsh terrains. Earthmoving tractors are the lifesavers in these areas that require a heavy workforce that is beyond the ability of human labor.

These tractors help in moving things such as dust, mud, lumber, rocks, debris. There are three types of earthmoving types of tractors. They include;

1. Bulldozers

These types of tractors are also called crawlers. They have a large square plate mounted at the front of the tractor. This plate helps in the pushing of rocks and dirt.

They can also help in clearing out a property in any terrain. Bulldozers have complete tracks to maintain their balance while doing operations in very rough terrain.

2. Excavators

These types of tractors mostly help in digging and carrying out demolitions. They can lift heavy pieces of implements and shovel dirt. They comprise a long bucket arm attached to the cab that can rotate to 360 degrees.

Excavators also have elevated seats. The elevated seats help the drivers to get a full view of everything they need to see and excavate.

3. Backhoe Loaders

Backhoe loaders are types of tractors that combine both the capability of an excavator and a bulldozer. These machines comprise buckets in the back for digging and shovels or crawlers in the front that can adjust to whatever you need is.

They help in various construction tasks, from digging holes to breaking asphalt. Backhoe loaders are smaller than bulldozers. They have gigantic wheels that can access any rough geographic terrain.

Autonomous Tractors

Autonomous tractors are also called driverless or electric tractors. These types of tractors are controlled or operated through artificial intelligence. Autonomous tractors may become the wave that may influence the future of agriculture or industrial operations.

They use the combination of computers, GPS, drone technology, and satellite. Autonomous tractors eliminate the need for human tractor operators. A single operator can control an unlimited number of tractors from a single location.

Some industry experts give suggestions that a more realistic estimate would be around a dozen. Their development has excited the farming community for many years, and this enthusiasm will not subside soon.

Military Tractors

The militaries use military tractors for construction and demolition, temporary road building, and other top projects in high-risk areas. These types of tractors are known as artillery tractors. Military tractors were primarily used in the 1970s to move guns and heavy military implements.

They were manufactured to help travel varying and difficult types of terrain. The design of military tractors is the same as civilian industrial tractors. They are manufactured with the reinforced tractor frames and undercarriages that can withstand landmines and other explosive devices.

They have armored plating around the body of the machine, bulletproof, and heat-resistant glass surrounding the cab. Most military tractors are painted a camouflage brown or green type of color.

These tractors are sometimes designed with amphibious or semi-amphibious capabilities. They travel on tracks, wheels, and semi-trucks. Today, as most artillery pieces are now single mobile units with their propulsion systems, most artillery tractors have been converted to perform other tasks or scrapped.

Today, there are more sophisticated and improvised types of military tractors that are referred to as military tankers used to dislodge military missiles and rockets.

Two Wheel Tractors

Two-wheel tractors are types of tractors that are lighter and smaller. They are mainly used for lighter agricultural duties. These types of tractors help in land tilling, plowing, and pulling smaller implements such as harvesters, seeding equipment, and trailers.

They are also called walking single-axle or walk-behind tractors. Two-wheeled tractors help in small farms and gardens. The small gasoline engines usually power these tractors, and operators walk behind while using them.

Rotary Tiller Tractors

These are lightweight compact types of tractors with a 15 to 30 Hp. They are usually helpful in smaller fields and those that are at varying heights. These are areas where other machinery often cannot work effectively. However, rotary tillers are sizable enough to access these smaller spaces and over hills with ease.

Blades are often attached to the tillers to help in preparing seedbeds because they can quickly and easily pulverize the contents of soil in such fields. A rotary tiller is essentially a motorized cultivator that works by the rotation of blades or tines to work on the soil. It takes the soil, even hard, chunky soil, and creates a fine, clod-free bed of soil.

You can even adjust the skid shoes to adjust the working depth of the tiller. After you use this equipment to “till” the soil, your garden bed is ready to be planted with any type of seeds you wish to plant.

Orchard Type Tractors

Orchard tractors are specifically built for fruit and nut orchards and vineyards. Designed to travel between the rows as opposed to over the crops, these tractors are usually narrower and built lower to the ground than general-purpose tractors.

Due in part to their narrower width and lower ground clearance, these tractors will usually be lighter and have a tighter turning radius (sometimes as much as 60 degrees) than other farm tractors. They also almost only feature a horizontal, ‘ground level’ exhaust pipe, to help avoid damaging low-hanging produce.

Normally having a closed cab, many orchard tractors will use air filtration systems designed to keep the operator safe from exposure to the pesticides and other chemicals used in orchard management, which are typically sprayed upward into the plants.

Types Of Tractors – Application

The purpose of purchasing a tractor is one of the most essential factors that you need to consider before deciding to purchase a tractor. These key factors can be broken down into three key pillars;

  • Type of construction work; here, you need to assess the type and the load of work you need a tractor for. This can help you gauge how you would wish the control system to be. It will influence the design you want, whether it’s a driven tractor or a pushed (operator walks along with it).
  • Type of drive; considering the drive type is very crucial in that you can decide whether you need a wheeled tractor; two-wheel, three-wheel, four-wheel or you need a track with a lowered center of gravity for stability and suitability for rough geographic terrain. Drive type will also influence the power mechanism; gasoline, diesel, or electric.
  • The purpose; this is basically what you intend to do with the tractor you plan to purchase. For a complex heavy-duty job like construction and industrial work, you will need a tractor with very high horsepower and torque. However, for a simple task like gardening, plowing, tilling, and cutting grass, a tractor with average horsepower and torque would be fit for the job.

1. Tracked Type Tractors

These are types of tractors with no wheels. They have a track on both sides that helps in motion. These types of tractors do not have gears.

To steer the tractor effectively, apply brakes on one side of the track while the other side remains in motion. Tracked tractors are efficient for heavy-duty tasks that involve rough geographic terrains.

2. Half Tracked Tractors

These types of tractors have a small track chain fitted on the rear wheels while tire wheels are mounted on the front axle. Half-tracked tractors mainly help in the reclamation of barren land but not for agricultural activities.

The major role of the track in half-tracked tractors is to increase the contact area to the ground by making it much larger. This helps to increase the traction power. Half-tracked tractors are efficient in works that involve earthmoving tasks such as the construction of dams and in industrial work.

3. Wheeled Type Tractors

These are types of tractors commonly used in agricultural activities. Having wheels enables them to move at top speeds compared to track and semi-track tractors.

The tires are effectively fitted so that some of the field shocks can be effectively absorbed. Wheeled tractors are applied in gardening work, smaller farm tilling, and are quite appropriate for slightly hilly regions.

4. Three-Wheeled Tractors

These types of tractors are also called tricycle types of tractors. A few old models still exist today, but in most cases, they have been replaced by four-wheeled ones.

These types of tractors have a single or dual wheel fitted at the front and this makes them efficient in moving around quick turns. Although these tractors aren’t much popular in the modern world, some still exist and serve as excellent machines.

Choosing The Right Tractor

Choosing the right type of tractor for your needs can be overwhelming, especially if it is the first time to get involved in matters involving tractor purchases. That’s why this section helps you come up with things to consider.

1. Decide On The Drive Train You Want

You can choose between a gear, belt, or hydrostatic drive train, and whatever you choose, you can easily find it. Here are some pros and cons of each of these types of drives:

  • Gear drive trains are very efficient, last for a very long time when driven properly, and some even include features such as shear pins and slip clutches that reduce the chances of accidental damages.
  • Hydrostatic transmissions can go from zero to eight or nine miles per hour, giving them great speed, and they have a hydraulic fluid that can protect the engine where an overload is created or an implement accidentally strikes something.
  • Belt-driven models give some engine protection as well, although not as much as the hydrostatic ones do. However, be careful because, under a lot of strain, the belt inside can actually stretch or even slip.

2. Take Into Consideration Your Available Space

This sounds like a basic tip, but it is one that many people overlook. Make sure that you have enough room to store your tractor, especially when inclement weather arrives. For example, if you live in a freezing area, you should probably have a basement or garage to store the tractor in, because otherwise, it may be difficult to start in the wintertime.

You also have to make sure that your space is big enough to accommodate the size of tractor you want. Remember also to take good care of your tractor all year round and make sure it stays out of the elements as much as possible.

3. Determine What Size Of Tractor You Need

This one is also very important. Some people think they need extra-large tractors because the thought of having a huge tractor is exciting, but if you don’t need it, don’t buy it. Of course, you don’t want one that is too small, either. Most of the time, serious garden growers should go with something that is between 14 and 20 HP.

Extra power and extra chassis weight are two important facets to study before you buy a tractor and take it home. You also need to pay attention to speeds. Keep in mind that if your tractor only goes to three miles per hour, it likely won’t be enough for roto-tilling or plowing, and even basic garden work needs speeds up to one mile per hour.

The speed and the horsepower capability, therefore, need to be considered when determining the best size for your needs.

4. The Attachments Need To Be Considered

The parts that come with your tractor need to be considered, and once you determine which ones you need, keep two things in mind. First, are you able to attach and detach those attachments quickly and easily?

Second, can you change them back and forth without spending too much time on this task? The typical farm tractor has a three-point hitch that makes switching implements very easy to do. Most times, compact tractors simply can’t do this much of the time, so a standard-sized tractor is usually your best bet. Consider also the following tips:

  • When adjusting the tension on each belt once the mower is in place, which is done underneath the machine, make sure that your hands have enough room to reach those adjustment points.
  • Look at every single pulley belt, bolt, pin, and spring clip, and imagine yourself adjusting the tension of each of these parts, as this is the only way to know for sure that the job can be done comfortably and without injury to yourself on that machine.
  • Consider whether you are going to see everything underneath the tractor once you get it back home and whether you’ll have to do this while lying on your back on wet grass.

When you’re shopping for tractors, consider every angle for your attachments, because this will be something that you’ll likely have to deal with regularly once you get it home.

5. How Durable Is The Machine You Wish To Purchase?

You can start by inspecting the axles, drag rods, and linkages, especially if you’re only looking at small tractors. If earth or rocks dislodge while working, can the axles on this equipment handle it without breaking the tractor? A half-inch axle may go awry after a year of regular garden work, so a particular tractor is likely impractical to buy.

Think of the worst-case scenarios and ask yourself if the tractor you’re considering for purchase is strong enough to put it through what you’re planning to do with it. If it is difficult to get to the engine to repair it or the wires aren’t easily accessible, it is best to move on to another tractor.

After all, you deserve to get what you want, and if you are aware of your needs and insist on getting something that accommodates those needs, you’ll be much happier in the end.

Types Of Tractors – Conclusion

The tractor is a very important tool to have if you have got some complex work that needs to be carried out on the farm, construction site, or if you want to apply it for industrial use.

Now that you have a guide to help you choose the right types of tractors depending on your need, you don’t have to worry anymore because all the hard part has been solved by this article by making the work to choose the tractor much easier.

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