ATVs with harrow

Did you Know? You Can Also Use Agricultural Implements with ATVs

ATVs (also known as Gators), Compact and Sub-Compact Tractors with the appropriate agricultural implements offer an efficient way to manage small jobs, or can be used across many jobs on small farms.  In this article, I want to focus on what types of attachments can be used with a compact tractor for your field tillage needs and what to look for in them.

Maybe you know you need a tractor to help you take care of many of the heavy tasks in the farm, but what kind? how big? what features? and how much should it cost…?

What Size of Tractor Should I look for?

The size of any machinery will depend on what you want to do with it, tractors included, so what your farm is like, it is plain or sloppy? It is a small farm or a big one? For this article, we are assuming a medium to small-sized farm. So, if you just want to mow grass on a fairly small, flat, level yard, a riding mower will probably be all you will need. On the other hand, if you want to plow a field, do some tilling, spraying herbicides or fertilizers, or rent implements to your neighbors, you’ll need a more powerful machine.

Uses Riding Mower Garden Tractor/ATV Compact Tractor/ ATV
8-10HP 10-16 HP 14-25 HP 15-30 HP
Mowing X X X
Tilling X X X
Grading X X X
Towing X X
Field Mowing X X
Implements (3-point hitch) X X


Light-duty equipment is usually much less expensive to purchase, has low required maintenance, is made of sheet metal and plastic, is belt driven, has short-term parts availability and is designed to last for a short period of time.

Many failures on light-duty tractors simply can’t be repaired, however, light-duty equipment is very popular, largely due to low purchase price. With proper care light-duty equipment can perform useful tasks for many years.

On the other hand, heavy-duty equipment is typically expensive to purchase, has more required maintenance, is usually based on a steel frame (although certainly will contain sheet metal and plastic parts), often has true axles with cast-iron housings, is shaft driven, has long-term parts availability and is designed to last for many years with proper care. Most breakdowns on heavy-duty tractors can be repaired, although parts can be very expensive. It is common for users of heavy-duty equipment to “trade up” to a newer model after several years, as with automobiles. This means there is a good supply of used heavy-duty tractors to choose from.

Take a look at the “Tractor Selection Chart”, note the differences among the 3 tractor categories and decide which category best fits your work environment. Determine which tasks you will want to do with your tractor and note which tractor categories are capable of performing those tasks.

How Much Horsepower?

When studying a tractor’s horsepower, you should carefully consider the type of horsepower measurement being stated by the manufacturer or dealer. Two ratings are used to define tractor power: Brake (or engine) horsepower and PTO horsepower (the most common).

The brake horsepower is what is put out by the engine without loss caused by the transmission and other components, the PTO horsepower is the power that is available to operate equipment from the PTO shaft.

There are implements that work PTO-powered, and some other that work by themselves. Each individual implement has its own requirement in terms of PTO horsepower, so knowing the tractor’s PTO rating, and implement’s requirement is very important when you are sizing an implement to a tractor.

However, is not mandatory work with PTO, if is not an available characteristic in our ATV or sub-compact tractor you can choose implements than can work without PTO power, like some disc plows that can do the work just by being pulled, and sometimes only need a little bit of ballast, like a sack of sand in top.

ATV with Plow and Ballast

ATV with Disc Plow and Ballast

And What about ATVs? (Also known as Gators)

If you already have, or are thinking of purchasing an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) you may be surprised to learn how many attachments are available for it. Plows, Tillers, Self-powered Sprayers, Mowers, brush cutters, seeders, are all available for pushing or towing with many models of ATVs. You should check first with an ATV dealer for available implements, and again, if you want to use it with PTO-powered implements, let the seller know you needs. John Deere, Kubota, Polaris, Arctic Cat are very known brands.

Kubota RTV900-XT

Kubota RTV900-XT

Tires: A Very Important Detail

ATVs, Compacts and Sub-Compacts are usually in the 25-40 horsepower range, which limits what they can do in terms of deep tillage with moldboard or chisel plows.  Much of this has to do with how you set up the tractor’s tires.  A standard ‘bar’ type tread can achieve good traction, and even better if you have some ballast via wheel weights or calcium in the tires.


General Categories of Tractor Tires

(Described left to right of the image)

Turf- very little traction but leaves the smallest ‘footprint” on the surface.

Bar – standard agricultural tire with best traction in mud and soil and transfers more draft to the implement you’re pulling

Industrial Turf – A compromise between Turf and Bar, providing some traction improvement over the turf tire, but less in terms of pulling and ‘work’ in the field.

Types of Tires for Tractors

Types of Tires for Tractors

Compact tractors and ATVs equipped with good ballast and bar tires can pull a 1-2 bottom moldboard plow without too much trouble.

Read Next: Implements and Powered Tillage

Gator Kubota with disc harrow


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