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  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    37
    Location
    Ocala National Forest, FL
    Tractor
    JCB 214 Loader BackHoe, Farm Tractor TBD

    Default Newbie needs tractor recommendations

    After years of dreaming and searching, I've bought some land, 168 acres of terribly infertile sand in Florida痴 Ocala National Forest, Zone 9. There is lots of composting and soil amending in my future. If my only criteria had been great farmland, I would have looked elsewhere, but several other factors make this a happy choice for both my wife and me. I would greatly appreciate tractor and attachment recommendations from those with experience.

    The property is currently 40 - 45 acres in natural Florida jungle in need of taming, 90 - 100 acres of Long-Leaf pines ready to be thinned for pulp wood, and the balance is in low value oaks and other hardwoods. The pines will be thinned to create pastures with the best trees allowed to grow another 10 years for saw timber.

    Future plans (maybe dreams which will change as the land talks to me) include up to 80 large livestock, cows and horses, a few pigs and goats to help in clearing that jungle, up to 8 or 10 acres of row crops that due to root-knot nematodes will need to be in a 5 year rotation covering 40 50 acres, a couple of ponds that will have to be dug and will consume a total of 4 to 8 acres, a 6 horse stable, an equipment storage barn, some fruit trees, and a new planting of pines on what ever acreage I decide I can set aside for the next 25 years.

    All I致e decided from my tractor research is that I need 4WD and diesel (I want to keep all the big engines on the farm on the same fuel). Looking for your HP and attachment recommendations. I think I need:
    Fence post driver I at least want to have a tractor capable of mounting a rented driver. All 3+ miles of perimeter fencing needs to be replaced and I値l eventually need 2 or more miles of cross fencing for pastures. I plan to use movable electric to break up pastures for rotational cattle grazing.
    Front end loader
    Back hoe to dig ponds and trench water lines
    Bush hog the property really needs a good cutting soon
    Fork lift
    what ever equipment you would recommend for preparing soil, planting, and nurturing row crops and pastures
    and what ever is needed to maintain .5 mile of limerock road and another 1.5 miles of sand roads.

    Two items I知 fairly sure to get for the truck (a beater F-350 diesel flatbed, dual rear wheels): A trailer large enough to tote the tractor when needed, with removable stake sides for hauling bulk materials; and a chipper/shredder. I think I prefer a diesel powered chipper that I can tow with the truck vs one on the PTO of the tractor so that I can more easily gather composting materials from off the farm.

    All comments, opinions, suggestions invited and highly appreciated. I realize I have lots to learn from you folks who have already made this your life.

  2. #2
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    1,662
    Location
    Piedmont, NC
    Tractor
    Kubota L4610 & BX2230, Farmall Super M, Super A

    Default Re: Newbie needs tractor recommendations

    It sounds like you have A LOT of work ahead of you, and you're going to need some serious equipment to handle it. I'm seeing multiple tractors in your future because the scale of what you've described will require it. A full-sized TLB (backhoe) seems like a good choice for your land clearing and preparation work. Doesn't need to be brand new; should be some good used ones available. And a good sized ag tractor (say 80-120 horsepower), again maybe a used one, would handle a heavy brush cutter and other attachments, have a strong loader to which a grapple could be mounted for moving logs and clearing brush.

    Did I mention it sounds like you have a huge amount of work in store? As for digging 4 to 8 acres of ponds... Even the equipment I described above would be challenged doing that. You need to be thinking about really big equipment for such a job, either hired or bought just for your project.

    Land clearing on such a scale takes heavy equipment, time, money and skill. Beyond that, make yourself a master plan for what, when and how you are going to get it all done! I admire your ambition, and hope you are young enough, prosperous enough and motivated enough to do it all.

  3. #3
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    194
    Tractor
    Mitsubishi MT372

    Default Re: Newbie needs tractor recommendations

    That much work on that much land needs more than one machine. I'd suggest a loader/backhoe in the 90/100hp range. A small dozer with similar power. And a 80/100hp tractor and a smaller 25/35hp tractor both with fel's.

    I love spending other folk's money:-)

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    37
    Location
    Ocala National Forest, FL
    Tractor
    JCB 214 Loader BackHoe, Farm Tractor TBD

    Default Re: Newbie needs tractor recommendations

    OK, please allow me to clarify. I wasn't clear and it might not be as bad as I led you to believe. The pines will be harvested by a hired crew. They have specialized equipment that can get the job done better and faster than I ever could. But I will be left with stumps cut at ground level and I've read that long-leaf pine stumps are so full of tar that they don't rot in any sort of reasonable time. A state forester told me the best thing to do was rent (or buy used and sell when done) a dozer to remove stumps and root rake. I suppose I could save the pond digging for when I am ready to stump.

    So does that alter your recommendations?

    Also, based on having about 8 months of the year with 90F weather, would you spend your own money (hey, you can't keep spending my money) on a cab and AC? I'm leaning towards yes but hate to waste money on a comfort item when I could put that $$$ towards a couple of necessary implements.

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    37
    Location
    Ocala National Forest, FL
    Tractor
    JCB 214 Loader BackHoe, Farm Tractor TBD

    Default Re: Newbie needs tractor recommendations

    never mind about the cab. Just found a thread that answered yes with enthusiasm

  6. #6
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    194
    Tractor
    Mitsubishi MT372

    Default Re: Newbie needs tractor recommendations

    I would recommend against buying new. The dozer and backhoe especially could be bought used and sold later without much of a loss. Just be prepared to do some repair work. The tractors as well do not necessarily need to be new, although I would try to find late model low hour units if you plan to keep them long term.
    Just be sure to have what you're buying checked out by someone who knows what to look for if you don't.
    And yeah, I'd go with the cab if possible. But I wouldn't let it be a deal breaker.

  7. #7
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    1,662
    Location
    Piedmont, NC
    Tractor
    Kubota L4610 & BX2230, Farmall Super M, Super A

    Default Re: Newbie needs tractor recommendations

    Well, that helps somewhat to narrow things down a bit. Maybe I'm being particularly thick-headed (wouldn't be the first time), but it would sure help me visualize what's involved if you could post a few pics of your place.

    For example, I still don't know what degree of "thinned out" you're talking about. Do you mean basically a clear cut, with a few scattered trees or what? If it's pretty much a clear cut, yes a dozer could easily grub out all the stumps and grade it smooth in short order. But a Cat isn't going to weave in and out amongst a whole bunch of live trees that you want left standing, right?

    And you still have 40 acres of "jungle" to clear, which is a lot of land to clear. Finally, you say you want to end up with 40-50 acres available for row crops plus pasture acreage for 80 head of cattle.

    Maybe I'm missing something, but that still sounds like something you either get it all done at one time with heavy equipment or plan to spend years doing with farm tractor sized machinery.

  8. #8
    Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    37
    Location
    Ocala National Forest, FL
    Tractor
    JCB 214 Loader BackHoe, Farm Tractor TBD

    Default Re: Newbie needs tractor recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by richamor View Post
    I would recommend against buying new. The dozer and backhoe especially could be bought used and sold later without much of a loss.
    Agreed on the dozer. It isn't something I would need long term so rent or buy used and resell makes sense. I'll evaluate based on the economics when the time comes. But the tractor is something I'll need for a long time to come so I'm leaning more towards new, but I'm open minded to something used if I can find something with low hours and in good condition.

    I'm still on the fence about the backhoe, still trying to determine its capability vs the hours of needs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grandad4 View Post
    I still don't know what degree of "thinned out" you're talking about.

    And you still have 40 acres of "jungle" to clear, which is a lot of land to clear. Finally, you say you want to end up with 40-50 acres available for row crops plus pasture acreage for 80 head of cattle.

    Maybe I'm missing something, but that still sounds like something you either get it all done at one time with heavy equipment or plan to spend years doing with farm tractor sized machinery.
    I still have to meet with the forester to make sure my plan makes good sense for my location. Currently the trees are generally in 8' wide rows with trees spaced from 2 to 8 feet in row. A plan on the UF website said that to maximize income over the next 10 - 15 years I should thin for partially clear/partially shaded pastures and saw-timber production. That means something like leaving rows 1 and 3 and removing rows 2, 4, and 5, then repeat. Trees in rows would be thinned to maybe one every 6 - 10 feet.

    If I can figure it out, I'll post what few photos I have. You'll see that even with the current drought and spacing of trees, the pines allow enough light for grasses to grow.

    As to clearing the 40 acres of jungle, part of that will be pond, part will go to the pigs and goats to clear over time, and part will be converted to crop land over the years. As I need more crop land, I'll clear one year ahead. Also, the 40 - 50 acres of crop land can be in pastures or cover crops 4 out of 5 years, so I won't ever be plowing the majority of that acreage in any one year.

    As to timing, I plan to start small and keep my mistakes low cost as I learn my way. As soon as I get water and fencing, I'll get a dozen cattle or so and add to the herd each year as pastures improve and my knowledge grows. The land plan I posted was for the long term so those of you on my advisory council could see where I want to go.

    Many thanks, Grandpa, for your input. Just your asking questions forces me to rethink from different angles.

  9. #9
    Super Member flusher's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    6,538
    Location
    Sacramento
    Tractor
    Sold the farm, sold the tractors, moved back to the city

    Default Re: Newbie needs tractor recommendations

    What's your budget for tractors and implements?

    My neighbor used his Cat D7 dozer to rip the hardpan down to about 24 inches depth when he was establishing his alfalfa fields. Something like this, used, would handle stump removal and pond building, but I don't think you could transport it with your F350. Something like a used F550 dump truck with a flatbed trailer would handle it.

    Row cropping 50 acres @ 8-10 acres/year---my 1951 Farmall Super A is a possibility. It's specifically a row-crop tractor with row crop implements available on eBay, etc. Mine came off Craigslist for $1300 including a 3pt hitch (the IH 2-pt hitch was standard, the 3pt was aftermarket add-on) and a mid-mount 6-ft sicklebar mower. The Farmall 140 is a larger version of the Super A.

    Your go-to tractor should be a 50-70 hp 4WD with some type of synchro shift tranny, power steering, 6-ft wide FEL with skid steer quick attach option on the FEL arms, triple hydraulic remotes on the rear and one remote on the front, and (possibly) a cab with A/C to keep you cool and bug-free.

    Good luck.

  10. #10
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    164
    Location
    Coosa County AL
    Tractor
    Kubota L5740-HSTC,CC/Y EX3200, 1950 8N

    Default Re: Newbie needs tractor recommendations

    What you need as much as anything is about four sons, ages, say 15 to 20.

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