The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Smallholding => Equipment => Topic started by: suziequeue on September 25, 2010, 08:35:14 pm

Title: 2 wheeled or compact tractor
Post by: suziequeue on September 25, 2010, 08:35:14 pm
We are a small smallholding (about 10 acres) but want to make our own hay and manage our grass better.

I have always been keen on a two wheeled tractor as we have some particularly steep land which can't be driven on by car or tractor but - having said that - maybe a compact tractor could manage it or we just don't do anything except graze that field.

Any opinions?

Any opinions?
Title: Re: 2 wheeled or compact tractor
Post by: waterhouse on September 25, 2010, 10:28:43 pm
What you need is friends, neighbours or unlimited energy.  10 acres is an awful lot to do by hand so I can understand the interest in tractors but this is a quagmire of conflicting advice.

Your land is steep so forget conventional tractors.  They all have high centres of gravity and get a little scary on steep stuff.  Particularly forget vintage farm machinery such as grey Fergies and the like.  Tractors can kill you in a number of painful ways: later machines have better protection against stupidity/carelessness etc like rollover protection (ROPS)

A tractor is an engine, a collection of gearboxes and some hydraulics.  I live in flat Hertfordshire but from time to time I still need four wheel drive.  A standard 540 rpm power take off will drive toppers and spinners, but hydraulics will lift things for you.  I have some hefty pallet forks on the back of my Kubota and can lift 3/4 tonne.  I move things around on pallets, often using builders big bags and it saves a lot of effort.  Fertiliser comes in 600kg bags which are impossible otherwise. 

Farm tractors (80hp+) are cheap secondhand but too big.  Compact tractors tend to be relatively expensive and the kit to use with them is actually expensive.  The jury is still out on Chinese machinery some of which is exceptionally good but service networks are thin.

If you have lots of money look at the Alpine tractors such as Goldoni.  They have low CoG and are strong but not cheap.

I looked into the hay-making issue last year when we failed to make any because our friendly contractor didn't turn up.  You either need to buy a lot of very expensive kit or you have to beg borrow or steal it.   You cut the grass with a drum mower (1500) turn it with a tedder (1000) and then bale it (5000+) and wrap it (2000)

I have a lot of time for two wheel tractors but making hay is going to be very hard work.  BSG sell a frame which you can use to make a hay rick but it will still mostly be backbreaking work

Title: Re: 2 wheeled or compact tractor
Post by: Norfolk Newby on September 27, 2010, 10:03:25 am
I have a small tractor which is a different design from the normal. It's called an 'alpine tractor' because the people in northern Italy and Switzerland use them to cope with steep slopes and difficult terrain.

I got mine from a company in Marks Tey near Chelmsford called BSG. have a look at their web site for more detail:-

Mine is a second hand machine but in good condition. BSG have been very helpful. My tractor has a 20hp air cooled 2 cylinder diesel engine. So it's fine for my 12 acre plot, it's got a category 1 three point hitch with basic hydraulics, low pressure balloon tyres tyres, differential locks on the two axles (in case it gets stuck in the mud or on a slope), and a standard power take off to operate mowers and similar devices.

I bought it because of worries about slopes and turning over. It is quite light weighing 600kg and with the fat tyres it doesn't cut tracks in the ground or cause the ground to get a hard pan - a layer of compressed soil.

The air cooled engine doesn't need any anti-freeze but you have to check that the cooling ducts round the cylinders stay clear of dust. After using the topper to cut a fine crop of thistles, I found the fan had sucked in a bucket of thistle seeds which were neatly packed round the two cylinders. Easily cleaned out and no harm done!

The engine is pretty noisy but reliable and runs happily on red diesel.

There are other alpine tractor suppliers in the UK but I can only speak about what I have.

Title: Re: 2 wheeled or compact tractor
Post by: lachlanandmarcus on September 30, 2010, 01:59:24 pm
Alpine tractors are very good but very expensive and hard to find second hand.

We got a second hand New Holland (very good if old) small hay baler for 600 and a mower for 500 (also second hand). The tractor is 75hp. Hay tedder was thrown in free with the old John Deere tractor we got. Everything bought from eBay, no problems with any of the sellers and even tho the equipment sat out for 2 years before we got round to making hay, in -20s winter and 3 months of snow, it all worked!!

Unless you want new equipment only, theres no need to spend the sort of costs quoted, thats for new stuff.

But if your land is VERY steep then I think you would have to fork out for an Alpine. Budget almost all the for a second hand one of those, the rest pick up cheaply second hand. If the land is wet also consider tracked vehicles.
Title: Re: 2 wheeled or compact tractor
Post by: Norfolk Newby on October 03, 2010, 10:49:31 am
As I said in my earlier posting, I got my alpine tractor second hand. I contacted the main dealers (BSG etc.) to see if they had anything and left a contact number in case one came in. As a result, I got my machine at a very reasonable price in good condition a few weeks later.

Nothing ventured...

The dealer also let me have several of the attachments I wanted from his second hand stock and we agreed a package deal which suited me.

As a result, I have the equipment from a reliable source, plus a supply of spares when needed (maintenance stuff; filters etc.) and a source of advice at the end of the phone.

I could have got a secondhand Japanese tractor or a new Chinese one for about the same money but this one has suited me very well. If you want something and are willing to do a bit of searching it is amazing what you can get.