I own 10 acres and am considering buying a compact tractor. I'm having trouble choosing one.

Sally Drury sets out the key parameters for selecting the best compact tractor for a 10-acre site.

I thought I had narrowed it down to the JD 2720 or a Kubota B3030 - not much between them but the Kubota is slightly cheaper. I prefer the two pedals on the JD. I am now being offered an ex-demo JD 3036e with loader - at least £3,000 less than the other models. It has fewer features but I cannot find any good advice to help me make up my mind. The price seems too good to be true but there must be a reason. I am concerned that I could make a big mistake. I hope you can help me.

A: All three are good tractors, providing a nice ride and making light work of mowing, spraying, front loader and trailer work. Arrange a test drive to check out the ease-of-use and comfort features for yourself.

To decide which is best for you, work out your priorities and what you want the tractor to do. If you want a brand new tractor with no worries about warranties, then your choice is down to the 2720 or B3030. The used machine is bigger and more powerful so I would look at how many hours it has done and consider whether the front-end loader is of any use to you. Do you know the dealer selling it? Is a guarantee being offered with it?

All three have hydrostatic transmission. This means they have a variable-speed hydraulic motor to provide an infinite range of speeds. There is no clutch and you can vary the speed and direction with the pedal or pedals. Such transmission makes the tractor suitable and easy to use for mowing, snow clearing, trailer work and other tasks where frequent changes in forward speed are needed. The John Deere has a simple two-range transmission, giving a top speed of 22 or 24kmph, whereas the Kubota has three ranges and a limit of 19.3kmph.

Think about the implements you will be using or powering. Both JDs and Kubota's compact have mid and rear PTOs. You will find the mid-mounting position useful for mowing - JD has a drive-over easy-mount mower for this. If mowing lawns is likely to be your main activity, consider having the tractor put on turf tyres so as not to cause damage. Kubota's Bi-Speed turn feature is also an advantage.

If you intend to use the rear linkage, check the lift capacity at the link ends is sufficient for the load to be lifted - the Kubota has ample for most implements. If you want to power a woodchipper, then the used machine may be best, depending on the chipper model. If you want to plough, consider looking for a tractor with manual transmission.

Sally Drury has been reporting on product developments and testing kit for 30 years. The advice given in this helpline is independent.

Email your questions to sally.drury@haymarket.com


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