Summer 2018/19 High Performance Magazine


Are you thinking of moving from a ride-on mower up to a small tractor but don’t know where to start?

The compact utility tractor market is highly competitive, with sub-compact (up to 30hp) and compact utility (30-60hp) machines available.

Tractor buyers can expect to outlay from $14,500 (or $60 a week) for a basic 23hp machine without any attachments up to $60,000 for a 60hp model with a loader bucket.

Such a large investment requires research to compare brands, prices, dealers and features, and it pays to be aware of the inclusions and exclusions in manufacturer warranties, options for financing your new equipment and insurance.

There is often a misconception the more well-known brands are higher priced but cheaper imported brands may not have the safety features required under Australian standards.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions at the dealership, take notes, go home and then do more research.

When browsing models in the dealer’s yard, be prepared to answer:

  • How many hectares do you have?
  • What is the terrain of your property – level, undulating or steep?
  • What is the primary purpose you want the tractor for?
  • What jobs will you need it to do in the future?

David and Lee-anne Holmes, of Thurgoona, bought a John Deere 1023E sub-compact tractor for their 2.6ha property Holmestead this year, and now regard it as one of the most useful machines they have ever purchased.

The 23hp tractor is powered by a three-cylinder diesel engine and features a hydrostatic transmission, 4WD, power steering, roll over protection bar, easy lift bonnet, tilt steering, wet disc brakes and a 344kg lift capacity.

“It is the perfect size for around here and very versatile,’’ David said.

“We run three horses and have a large lawn area. We have a John Deere ride-on mower with a catcher to do the lawns but needed a compact tractor for all the other jobs.

“We also have a quad bike for towing a trailer around but needed a machine capable of doing all those applications, with more horsepower and different attachments.”

In the past, the couple hired a front-end loader for small jobs, including cleaning the paddocks of manure and placing crusher dust in gateways.

They compared sub-compact tractors of various brands within their price range and were impressed by the customer service at Hutcheon & Pearce’s Albury branch.

Lee-anne went in to the branch initially wanting a tractor that was compact and easy to drive.

“We wanted to take a load off our backs and bodies. I took Dave back the next day and nothing was a problem for the sales staff.’’

The couple is happy with the baby of the sub-compact fleet at 23hp.

“Our tractor has a blade attachment on the rear I use to scrape the driveway and dressage arena, and filling in trenches,” David said.

“The hydrostatic transmission is easy to use with forward and reverse, high and low range, and it can be put in 4WD if it is a bit slippery.

“The four-in-one bucket is amazing – I can easily clean up and move dirt around. We are surprised at just how much we have used it.”

David has found the tractor to be fuel efficient, only topping up the fuel tank once in 15 hours of work.

Fit for purpose

When buying a compact tractor, Hutcheon & Pearce Small Ag and Turf sales consultant Greg O’Brien asks customers to provide information on the size of their property, terrain and the type of implements required when visiting a dealership.

“We will need to know if they want the tractor for moving around soil or gravel, or for heavier digging.

“The engine size of the 23hp 1023E tractor is ideal for all lifestyle requirements. It comes with a 15hp PTO which is ample enough to run a slasher, post hole digger and hydraulic log splitter.

“The smaller lifestyle machines only have the one type of transmission which is a hydrostatic and is like operating an automatic transmission in a car or riding an over-sized lawn mower.”

A three-point hitch at the rear of the tractor includes a hydraulic lift for raising and lowering the attached implements, such as water carts, spreaders, seeders, post hole diggers, grader blades and spray units or carry-alls for transporting hay bales or fencing equipment.

Greg advised tractors should be serviced once a season.

“Even if you haven’t done the hours, the oil can degrade in the engine over time and its always good to get them checked out once a season.

“A six-year warranty covers the 1023E powertrain which includes the engine, transmission, final drives and PTO – it does include a battery for the first 12 month life of the tractor.”

When it comes to financing your new equipment, Greg said John Deere Finance catered for residential purchasers without an ABN, or credit could be arranged through a financial institution. He recommends taking out insurance on the tractor.


Engine size it is important to know the PTO (power take-off) requirement. The PTO rating will determine the size of the implement. Consider the weight of the implement when choosing a tractor.

Horsepower drawbar horsepower is usually equal to about 85 per cent of the tractor’s PTO horsepower.

Tyres agricultural or lugged tyres offer good traction and the angled tread sheds dirt and mud. Industrial tyres are for construction applications and turf tyres provide less traction in the mud but are less likely to leave tracks on the lawn

Hitches 3-point hitch includes a hydraulic lift for raising and lowering attached equipment.

PTO – a spinning shaft at the rear of the machine providing power to attachments.


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