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  1. #1
    New Member
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    Louisville'ish, KY

    Default Need Tractor Advice (and education)

    Hey All,
    I'm in need of some tractor advice, and had been reading here for a while so figured I'd sign up and post. I'm looking to find out specific recommendations for size/type of tractor to buy.

    My land:
    We've signed contract on a 7 acre plot outside of Louisville, KY. 5 acres is currently flat (very flat, was used as pasture prior to this) and 2 acres border a stream and are fairly heavily wooded and have fair rolling hills to them. The seller indicates that their father used to brushhog the portion closest to the creek to keep it clear of underbrush (and the ensuing ticks/bugs/critters) so the kids had a place to play. It hasn't been cleaned out in several years, though.

    My needs:
    We plan on brush-hogging 4 acres, finish-mowing 1-1.5 acres around the future house, and then doing a regular (once every few weeks) clearing of the 2 acres bordering the stream - after taking out some of the smaller trees and making it easier to access. Additionally, while I'm not a farmer and am not planning on farming the land, I am planning on having a fairly large garden and a greenhouse, and am planning on building some cool stuff for our 4 boys (bike track, shooting range, volleyball court, etc) in the 'back pasture'. My guess is that this pasture will continue to 'morph' into new things as they get older and want different things out of it.

    Finally, there's more than a decent chance that I'll end up buying an additional 6-12 acres immediately across the street (or rather that my inlaws will buy it and we will have use of it/take care of it since they live out of state). It is roughly 6 acres of flat and 6 acres of very wooded (no machine has been in there for a couple decades).

    With all of these things, I know I'll be mowing, some tilling, some re-grading of driveways, digging post holes for fences, and moving a fair amount of dirt around. I'll also be doing the other assorted things around a hobby-ranch/farm that one would expect.

    My questions:
    1. What 'size' tractor should I be looking at? I was initially looking at a 20HP kubota, but my father has one and suggested that I get something bigger. I don't have to finish mowing in 30 minutes, but I also don't want to spend 6 hours mowing the lawn each week. Now I'm looking at the Kubota 3130. Is that sufficient, or should I go with something bigger? It seems like it should be big enough for what I want, but I don't live this life yet and don't want to 'underbuy' and be sorry later.
    2. My wife is stressed about a pull-behind mower (believing that it's less safe than a belly mower). Is this concern legitimate, and/or are there reasons to go with a belly vs. a pull-behind mower?
    3. What attachments should I be looking at? I'm looking at a FEL, BH, brushhog (48-60 inch so I can get between the trees), finish mower (72 inch, if I can find it), and an auger. Are there other attachments that I should initially be focused on? I was thinking about the thing that looks like a FEL, but has the teeth on the top and bottom (here's my ignorance popping out) to help clear out the brush. Also a rototiller, and a few other 'toys' but I don't know what's really helpful vs what's useless junk.
    4. Are there things I should stay away from, given the size tractor I'm looking at? i.e. Will a 30HP tractor have the power for a 60" brushhog? I hear that (for the most part) Chinese attachments are to be avoided. Are there other things that I should be aware of?
    5. Finally, what considerations should I be making when looking at tractors in general? For instance, I hear a lot of talk about a 3 point hook-up with a back-hoe, but don't understand that. Also a quick-disconnect, and a way to quickly swap between attachments (or maybe that IS the quick disconnect).
    6. What are the major functional differences between the differing types of transmissions? I see a lot of discussion about HST and Gear, but don't know what the differences are or (more importantly0 how those differences would impact a novice like myself.
    7. Are there any specific tractors that I should be looking at that directly compete with the Kubota L series, or ones I SHOULDN'T be looking at? For instance, I've also been looking at the JD, Kioti, and Mahindra tractors (but other than HP, I don't know how they compare/differ). I've also looked at the Kubota B series, but don't know what the significant differences are between B and L of their line-up (besides just weight and size)
    Any help is really appreciated.

    Please feel free to simply point me in the direction of previous threads, if that's easier...I have gone looking at several, but obviously I don't know what threads may be valuable vs worthless since my knowledge-base is fairly minimal.
    Thanks,
    -Scott

  2. #2
    Super Star Member Egon's Avatar
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    Aug 2001
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    Nova Scotia, Canada

    Default Re: Need Tractor Advice (and education)

    Welcome.

    So you require a tractor and all that goes with it!

    From your comments 30-35 HP. should suit your needs. Look at the more common colours and dealer availability. Also check out how many brands of toys the dealer handles or can get for you.

    Think seriously of a tractor designed for a backhoe with easy removal.

    HST may be the transmission of choice as it will make the back and forth jobs much more enjoyable.

    MMM can be irritating to mount and remove. Any other work should not be down with it mounted.

    For the other items Ill pass on making any type of recommendation as your needs may change.

    Do lots of shopping. Look at used accessories. Make yourself knowledgable about your local tractor/equipment situation by doing a lot of looking.

    Shopping is fun. Enjoy the experience.
    Egon
    50 years behind the times
    Livin in a
    Worn out skin bag filled with rattlin bones

  3. #3
    Super Star Member k0ua's Avatar
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    Jun 2009
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    15,644
    Location
    Branson, Mo.
    Tractor
    Kioti DK35se Hydrostat

    Default Re: Need Tractor Advice (and education)

    couple of things, I have never heard that MMM were safer than Rear finish mowers. Both can do a good job, both have pluses and minuses. The MMM is easier to manuever around trees, and trim up close to them (like your lawn mower)..The Rear finish mower is easier to mow under trees that have a lot of overhang as you can back under them without fighting all the limbs. The HST makes this easier, to change directions instantly. I am TOTALY biased in favor of Hydrostat. It makes loader work and the just mention backing under trees so much easier. It is also easy for anyone to learn how to use.. Think no learning curve. Others have said I am obsessed with recomending the HST tranny, yep its true, I cannot imagine any new person to tractors not enjoying the benefits of an hydro. They do cost more up front, Cost maybe 20 bucks more each hydraulic fluid change for an extra filter. some will mention that the hydro "eats" a little power, yep its true. about 5 to 8 percent. Like Egon, I am thinking 30 to 35 maybe a little bigger tractor. Basically size the tractor to the size of the implements you want to use.. Bigger tractor bigger implements, and faster job completion. But smaller tractors can get most jobs done too, just takes longer. The clawlike thing on the front end is called a grapple, and this will require you purchase a tractor with Skid Steer Quick Attach SSQA , this will allow you to swap out the bucket, to a grapple or forks in just a couple of minutes or less. You will also need a "third function valve" and remotes on the front end loader. this sends hydraulic fluid up front to run the grapple so you still have Lift/Lower, Curl/Dump, and Grapple closure/opening all at the same time. You can also use a diverter valve to take away the Curl/Dump function of your existing Front End Loader (FEL) valve for a second to use for the grapple, but it is not quite as good of a setup. Although a lot of guys get along fine with them.

    I dont own one, but from what I can tell you dont want a backhoe that mounts on the 3pt hitch.. real backhoes mount on a subframe attached to the tractor. Not sure you need a backhoe at all, but they are nice if you have the money, they are pricey, and you can rent a mini-ex for about 150 to 200 per day, and get more work done from what I understand. I have no personal experience with them. Look at all the brands, If we start recommending brands here it can start a small brushfire with differing opinions. you cannot go wrong with JohnDeer, kubota Kioti, Massey Ferguson. I would have said New Holland, but they are in flux right now with this size tractor, in changing suppliers and the future is a little hazy in my opinion. Others may beg to differ. But other brands are also worth considering. A lot depends on finding a dealer you trust and like. And then Read, read read and then try to sit on and operate all that you can, Good luck, and it is a "requirement" that you post pictures if you buy one of any color.

    James K0UA
    James KUA

    Kioti DK35se hydrostat with 2 QA buckets, 48 inch. King Kutter Rotary Cutter. 750 lbs ballast box. Loaded tires, Construction Attachments SSQA Lightweight Pallet forks. EA 50 inch single lid "wicked" Grapple. Satisfied Everlast PA160 welder owner How to add a link to a post . Best way to search TBN


  4. #4
    Veteran Member Wolfy's Avatar
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    a small town
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    Ford 1710, 1600 Kubota L3710, G6200, Simplicity, Allis Chalmers, Montgomery Wards garden tractors

    Default Re: Need Tractor Advice (and education)

    Scott, the 3 point backhoe is a no go. You want the subframe, as it will keep your tractor in one piece. Woods is excellent, however you need to remove the 3 point arms to install it. I would look at Bradco, as the arms can stay put. And look closely on craigslist. I see used 3 pt implements all the time, that have been used very little, you could save major money. I have stopped and asked people running tractors like I'm looking at, what they think of them. I can't recall one time anyone getting annoyed.

  5. #5
    Gold Member Beltzington's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
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    406
    Location
    Appling, Georgia
    Tractor
    JD 3720

    Default Re: Need Tractor Advice (and education)

    My observations as a relatively new tractor owner (3-years) maintaining 8-acres of mostly pasture.

    - Love HST would not want to be shifting every time I change direction or speed
    - 4WD is worth every penny, use it all the time from wet grass to mud
    - Think of a FEL as a powered wheel borrow, very useful
    - Small tractors have small front wheels no fun when mowing over ruts
    - Rear Rotary Cutter (BushHog) does a very good job for most mowing requirements
    - I have not needed more or wanted less than my 36HP PTO rating
    Best wishes on your search.

  6. #6
    Veteran Member johnrex62's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
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    Location
    Bastrop County, Texas
    Tractor
    Kubota L3700SUHST

    Default Re: Need Tractor Advice (and education)

    Advice is pretty unanimous. I do very similar work on my 4 acres of woods and use an L3700SU with a 60" rotary cutter to clear out saplings up to 3" caliper and very thick smaller stuff and thorny vines. I don't have much in the way of hills, but do have a lot of washes and runoff gullies to navigate so I face shorter versions of the hills you face. The only thing I have tried to do so far that has been an effort is pulling 4" caliper trees out of the ground with a chain.

    I would suggest a backhoe can come in handy for grubbing out some of the larger stuff you may need to clear and for future projects. I did not get one and have had some regret, but no pressing need sufficient to go back and spend the money yet. It would have made getting some of my larger "saplings" out of the way though.

    In the kubota line I would look at the L3700SU, L3800, or L4400 or if you want to spend a bunch more look at the Grand L series in the 35-45 hp range. The 3pt hitch on the Grand L line is nicer and there are some other bells and whistles too. The larger units will be able to lift a bit more in the FEL than the smaller ones and that could come in handy at some point.

    Anything in the ranges suggested will perform admirably for you. As you spend more, your capacity will be enhanced but you have to decide how big to go based on your wallet and not mine.
    Kubota L3700SUHST, AG-Meier Mohawk 5' Rotary Cutter, Armstrong AG 5' Boxblade, Armstrong AG 5' Landscape Rake
    Scotts 50560x8 50" Riding Mower

  7. #7
    New Member
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    Louisville'ish, KY

    Default Re: Need Tractor Advice (and education)

    Thanks for the advice. I'm broadening my search somewhat, and am starting to look at the 3430, and the 3700/4400. I don't fully understand what the "Grand L" is compared to the L series... What category does the 3130 fit within? I'm not incredibly concerned with bells and whistles, but I'd like some core functionality. Is there a reason to go with the 3130 vs the 3700 (or the other way around)? Is there something more important to know about the tractor than simply the HP and the HP at PTO? I know that sounds incredibly stupid, but I keep looking at the tractors with 'larger numbers' expecting them to be significantly more expensive, and it doesn't seem to play out that way...if that's the case, why aren't the larger HP tractors more expensive/why would anyone consider getting the smaller HP tractors?

    The HST sounds like a no-brainer for a novice like myself, so thanks for the input.

    I forgot to ask the question about the 4 wheel drive, but was wondering...I thought it would matter, but was wondering if it would matter for a flat field like mine. Thanks for the advice.

    Our good friends just came over tonight and shared a story of a friend of their brothers who's 7 yr old daughter got caught between the tractor and the brush hog. It was obviously a tragically gruesome incident. My wife used that as the final evidence that we need to have a belly mower (I haven't really gotten into the fact that we are going to have to have a pull behind for the brush hog/clearing the underbrush).

    Is there a solution to the "small front wheel" thing mentioned by Beltzington? I've seen some tractors that appear to have larger front wheels than others, but the tractors themselves don't appear larger. Is that a personal preference thing, or just a different model tractor, or what?

    Thanks again for the feedback. This is beyond helpful.
    -Scott

  8. #8
    Gold Member Beltzington's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
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    406
    Location
    Appling, Georgia
    Tractor
    JD 3720

    Default Re: Need Tractor Advice (and education)

    FWD just offers more traction and more power on the ground in any situation. Even on flat ground it has saved my day pulling a stuck POV from some very slick clay. Folks farmed for years without FWD but on a sub-compact I would highly recommend it.

    Everything is relative to the task at hand. You can supersize the front wheels on any tractor however my main point was to consider the terrain you will be mowing. I typically rotary cut anywhere from 3 6 mph and if I forget location of a rut I am very thankful for the air ride seat. The smaller the tractor the slower you will need to mow if you do not want to beat it and yourself to death.

    Not sure there is any way to dissuade your wife on the safety issue however you are just as dead whether you a run over by a compact car or a truck. The rear rotary cutter in my opinion is much more versatile and less cumbersome then a MMM. For rough cutting you can back into some stuff you would never consider driving over and it lets you mow around trees without driving under them.

  9. #9
    Gold Member Alien's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
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    Location
    Grantham, South East Queensland
    Tractor
    Kioti CK30 HST

    Default Re: Need Tractor Advice (and education)

    I have a 30hp Kioti with HST and FEL. I have 40 acres. While the 30 hp suits most needs, at times I wish I had a lttle bit more HP and larger front wheels when digging/shifting dirt with the bucket. HP is quite ok for everything else.
    HST I wouldn't do without. Also I LOVE the joystick control on my Kioti (Daedong) for the FEL. I have used others but it is just so comfortable and easy to use.
    So..
    1. FEL with Joystick control
    2. HST
    3. Maybe 40 - 50 HP for serious bucket work. (Bigger hp, more fuel)
    4. Definitely 4x4

    Cheers
    Doug

    Scott, I should mention that the small front wheels have dug in in boggy ground and caused the back wheels to then dig in as well. The small ones break through the top crust very quickly and even using the loader to get myself out can be very difficult at times.

  10. #10
    Veteran Member johnrex62's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
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    Location
    Bastrop County, Texas
    Tractor
    Kubota L3700SUHST

    Default Re: Need Tractor Advice (and education)

    For the mid mount mower (mmm or belly mower) you are restricted to a smaller B series or the larger Grand L series, currently L3240 L3540 or L3940 according to the website. The standard L series does not offer this option. The fastest way to avoid the small tire problem is to buy a larger tractor as the wheels will be bigger.

    The attraction of the smaller tractors is that they are often used in tight spaces in semi rural settings rather than on acreage with larger spaces to manuever. They fit better in the family garage and feel more like the lawn mower the owner is used to. Big tractor are intimidating until you get used to operating them. If all you plan to do is mow your yard and tote mulch to the flower beds, you don't need much power and the occasional work you do can be accomplished by the B or BX series easily. They are really powerful for their size, but are not intended to be used like a Grand L or M series (AG) tractor.

    It won't help with the emotional objection, but the belly mower is just as dangerous as the 3pt attached rear mowers. Any sharp or moving part is incredibly dangerous and must be handled with the utmost respect and care. You can lose a foot or worse to the mid mower as fast as you can lose an arm to the pto shaft or a rotary cutter blade. Heck even a push mower can do real damage with handled carelessly.
    Kubota L3700SUHST, AG-Meier Mohawk 5' Rotary Cutter, Armstrong AG 5' Boxblade, Armstrong AG 5' Landscape Rake
    Scotts 50560x8 50" Riding Mower

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