Should I buy a new or used tractor?

Massey Ferguson tractors

So, should you buy a new or used tractor? At the end of the day, it comes down to your budget. How much are you willing to spend on the latest and greatest equipment? Have you considered leasing, which could put you in a newer machine at a more affordable rate?

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension ag and natural resources educator in Crawford County, offers these final considerations before making the big purchase.

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1Sizing your tractor
Think about the largest implement you have or plan to have within in the next 10 years. Can the tractor you are purchasing support it?

Undersized tractors are dangerous to operators and will be damaged when worked too hard. An oversized tractor will use more fuel, may be less maneuverable, can cause more compaction issues and may have more expensive parts.

2Ownership costs
Consider fixed costs such as depreciation, insurance and housing. Variable costs include repairs, fuel, lubrication and labor. Also, think about any implements you will need to purchase for your tractor to take on different farm tasks.

Although it is hard to determine the actual cost of owning a piece of equipment, Iowa State University Extension offers an online article to help estimate machinery costs over time:

3New or used
Remember, the older the machine, the more repair work. Choose a brand or model that will be easy for you to find parts for or that a local dealer can help with. When purchasing a used tractor, look for something under 5,000 hours. Older machines also have fewer electronics, which could mean fewer repairs, but also less conveniences.

New tractors usually come with a warranty, but make sure you are purchasing it from a trusted dealer. Newer tractors may have a lot of electronic components that make life easier, but when problems arise, proprietary issues may make it harder for you to work on the tractor.

4Ask around
Ask your fellow farmers for advice, especially if you are new to farming. Ask them what has worked and what didn’t work on their own farms. Don’t be afraid to shop around and compare if you feel the price on a tractor at is too high. At the end of the day, you want a tractor that fits the needs of your farm operation and fits the budget.

Source: Selecting a new or used tractor for a small farm, Jason Hartschuh, Farm Science Review, Small Farms Center.

(Farm and Dairy is featuring a series of “101” columns throughout the year to help young and beginning farmers master farm living. From finances to management to machinery repair and animal care, farmers do it all.)

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  1. I appreciate how the article explains that when you are looking for a used tractor, you should make sure to find one that is under 5,000 hours as that means it has less use. My husband is needing to get a new tractor but he doesn’t want to get a new one but we still want a good working used one. We will look for one that is under 5,000 hours.

  2. Thanks for explaining how an undersized tractor is dangerous to operators and an oversized one will use up too much fuel. My brother wants to buy a farm with me but we don’t have the equipment. I’ll be sure to get an appropriately sized tractor if we end up getting it.


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