The Internet is full of materials on the topic - which walk-behind tractor to choose. Naturally, I have read most of them. About 90% of articles and videos with this title are created by motoblock sellers. They give general recommendations, moreover, by people who have seen the equipment only in the window and in the warehouse. The rest of the materials were published by practicing owners of walk-behind tractors, and here they have really useful thoughts.
I wanted a walk-behind tractor for a long time. But it didn’t make much sense to buy it, since my father has had it for 10 years, and it was enough. Of course, since I live separately from my parents, there is no way to fully operate the walk-behind tractor. In addition, my father (yes, like me, actually) belongs to the category of people who prefer not to give their equipment to other hands. In the end, I decided to get my own walk-behind tractor. The desire was largely fueled by YouTube bloggers, who, as soon as they do not use this technique.
My vision of the classification of walk-behind tractors
In order not to immediately confuse my reader, I will briefly describe how I see the classification of walk-behind tractors. For me there are three classes:
- A motor cultivator is a small, low-power, ultra-light, cheap, originally designed purely for milling small areas. Weight 30-60 kg. Engines are always gasoline, with a capacity of up to 5 horses.
- Light walk -behind tractor - I include all models in which cutters are installed instead of wheels to this class. Equipped with air-cooled petrol or diesel engines. Weight, on average, 100 kg. Power varies between 6-12 horses.
- Heavy walk-behind tractor - according to my logic, this includes everything that is provided for working with an active mounted cutter (plus a multi-stage gearbox typical for models of this class). Weight over 200 kg. They are equipped with water-cooled diesel engines with a capacity of 8-15 horses or gasoline air vents with a capacity of up to 20 horses (the so-called hybrids).
Personally, I see it that way. Perhaps someone classifies according to other principles. There is no GOST here, so you can approach the issue creatively.
Criterion 1. Tasks that I plan to solve with the help of a walk-behind tractor
This criterion should always be started. Of course, not all problems can be solved. New ones will emerge. But at least you should always be guided by something.
I plan to use the walk-behind tractor for the following work (let's start in the spring):
- Spring plowing with a plow (if not plowed in autumn).
- Harrowing to close moisture.
- Milling (the main function of any walk-behind tractor).
- Transportation of compost from heaps to vegetable gardens.
- Cutting furrows for planting potatoes.
- Backfilling potatoes with a disk hiller.
- Weeding the row spacing of other crops (I liked the method of Yuri Vorobyov from YouTube , there is a video below).
- Weeding potato rows with the so-called "hedgehogs".
- Hilling potatoes.
- Mowing the grass in the garden (currently with a koshu petrol trimmer).
- Transportation of weeds, grass and other organic matter to the compost heap.
- Potato digging.
- Soil preparation for sowing green manure.
- Autumn plowing.
- Cleaning roads and paths from snow.
In total, the work that I would like to transfer to the shoulders of the horses of the walk-behind tractor is not so little. Although this is not all that can be done using this technique. To do all this, a light cultivator will not work. You need a medium or heavy walk-behind tractor. I have decided on the tasks, now I move on to the next criterion.
Criterion 2. Dimensions of cultivated land
Here the logic is extremely simple - the more land, the more powerful and economical you need to choose a walk-behind tractor. I have small areas. I would even say minimalistic. Two garden plots of 5 acres each. The grass that I mow and store in compost grows in the garden (5 acres), outside the yard (about fifty), and behind one of the gardens (two acres).
Based on this, I do not need extreme power and performance. But a cheap motor cultivator will not work either, since, in fact, they can only perform one task - the painful milling of the soil. Well, the mower, with grief in half, can be attached to it. Everything else is at least a light walk-behind tractor.
Many owners of walk-behind tractors choose a model taking into account the opportunity to earn extra money with it in neighboring gardens. Personally, I'm not interested in this way of working. Moreover, as practice shows, modern walk-behind tractors do not have a large resource, and they exhaust it before the purchase has time to pay off. Yes, and, as for me, it’s hellish work - to cultivate the land with a walk-behind tractor at the same price that a tractor driver takes. He does the job in 10-15 minutes. And with a walk-behind tractor, you have to sweat for half a day over the same.
Criterion 3. Plot features
For me personally, this is one of the main criteria that imposes significant restrictions on the choice of walk-behind tractor. Firstly, one of my gardens is fenced on three sides, and on the fourth side there is a neighbor's garden without a border. Considering the already small area, it is not advisable for me to leave 2-3 meters for the turn of equipment. It follows that I need a maneuverable walk-behind tractor. And this is a motor cultivator or a light walk-behind tractor. I have already ruled out the cultivator due to its limited functionality. Given the following criteria, of course, I would like a heavy walk-behind tractor. But…
Secondly, I want to build a small narrow trailer for transporting compost, organic matter and crops within the site to the walk-behind tractor. On the way there are several gates up to a meter wide. Accordingly, again we need something maneuverable, nimble. That is, again I go out to a light walk-behind tractor and I am forced to abandon the heavy one.
Criterion number 4. Choice of engine type - petrol or diesel
My father has a walk-behind tractor with a 6-horsepower air-cooled diesel engine. At the moment, this is the second one, since the native honestly served 8 years and began to require a major overhaul. That is, we can say that diesel is reliable. They also say that it is economical. The third theoretical plus of such motors is a powerful torque, especially at low speeds.
Disadvantages of diesels:
- the engine itself costs one and a half times more expensive than a gasoline engine for the same amount of power;
- many spare parts are also more expensive;
- extremely loud;
- wild vibrations;
- the fuel system is a very weak point, given the quality of our fuel;
- you will find normal injectors and injection pumps for these motors;
- difficult start, especially on a cold one, especially if there is no starter.
Personally, I have nothing against diesels. Moreover, I think their design is ingenious. But, nevertheless, I prefer gasoline engines. They are cheaper to buy and repair. They are quieter and don't vibrate too much. Starting is easy even without a starter with a battery and in cold weather.
Naturally, gasoline ICEs also have weaknesses. And everyone knows about them. For me, there are only two such places - the ignition system and its sensitivity to moisture and water. If the diesel is lowered into water, leaving only the air on top , then it will work. With a gasoline engine, such a number will not work.
As for economy. I always approach this issue taking into account several factors. The main one is the intensity of exploitation. For example, I basically don’t install gas on my car (it’s even included), because I simply won’t see the benefits from it for 50 years. And all because I don’t drive much. It's the same with diesels. Yes, they, if good diesel fuel and a properly functioning fuel system, are more economical than gasoline engines. But not as much as many people think. In order for the price difference to pay off, the walk-behind tractor must work for five years in non-stop mode.
I don’t have the opportunity to get diesel fuel for free, which for many is a key factor when choosing a walk-behind tractor.
My choice is gasoline. The main criteria for grinding in person is quiet operation.
Criterion 5. Engine power
As a rule, the modest power of motor- block engines is enough to perform the above work with a margin. Even relatively weak motors for 5-7 horses (albeit Chinese ones) pull the plow without any problems, rotate the cutters and drag the loaded trailer. Problems usually arise not due to a lack of power, but due to insufficient ground grip.
Why then do we need walk-behind tractors with engines of 12-18 horsepower? Such power is simply necessary for the operation of active attachments. The same active cutter, screening potato digger, various wood splitters, crushers, mulchers - all this requires a lot of power on the PTO. As for the task of pulling the walk-behind tractor forward, 3-5 horses can easily cope with it. There would be only a normal hook.
Accordingly, I settled on the range of 6-9 horsepower, since I do not plan to use active attachments. Plus, the engine can always be put more powerful. Fortunately, the Chinese are asking for them not so much money.
Criterion 6. Gearbox
Personally, I really like the gearbox of heavy walk-behind tractors. It is both more convenient to use and more practical (many gears). I do not accept belt drives. I do not know why. Don't like it, that's all.
Fortunately, most lightweight walk-behind tractors are equipped with a direct gear with 2-6 speeds forward and 1-2 reverse. I must say that gearboxes with two speeds forward often do not suit their owners. As a rule, there is not enough low gear, which is needed to perform a number of agricultural works. The Chinese took this into account, and began to stamp boxes with three forward gears. Although many light direct-drive walk-behind tractors have had multi-stage gearboxes for a long time. But they are expensive, and few people buy them.
Personally, I am satisfied with the option that does not have belts and has three forward gears. There are not so many models that meet such criteria so far on the market (among the budget segment). But there is. That's what I'm aiming for.
Criterion 7. Dimensions and weight of the walk-behind tractor
Dimensions are an important issue for me. First, the features of the site. Secondly, a heavy overall walk-behind tractor simply will not fit into the garage next to the car. But light models are just right.
As for weight, it does not affect the complexity of control, as many mistakenly think. On the contrary, the heavier the walk-behind tractor, the easier it is for them to work. This is confirmed by the owners of such equipment, who have something to compare with. Weight is needed for a sure grip. For lightweight walk-behind tractors, this is a real problem. The hook is especially lacking when plowing.
This problem is solved in three ways. Firstly, the walk-behind tractor can be loaded with additional weights. This method has two drawbacks at once - it becomes extremely difficult to control the walk-behind tractor on turns, plus excess weight puts pressure on the gearbox, reducing its resource. Secondly, you can buy large-diameter agricultural wheels with aggressive treads. Youtube bloggers have already shown how effective it is. Even though it's expensive.
And finally, thirdly, what I plan to do is lugs with spikes. What it is, how ingenious and effective it is, you can see in the video below. There, a person makes similar lugs with his own hands , and claims that when using them, there is no need to add a walk-behind tractor. I don't know why, but this decision inspires confidence in me.
Criterion 8. Cost and budget
In Ukraine, prices for walk-behind tractors range from $350 to $2,000. Motor cultivators cost 350-400 bucks . Light Chinese walk-behind tractors are sold at a price of 500-700 dollars. Up to 1000 bucks is already heavy models and hybrids. Domestic motoblocks Motor Sich are inadequately expensive. In general, there are offers for any wallet.
I'm aiming for the $650 model for now. It should also be borne in mind that all the Wishlist listed above will require the same amount. This is if you buy everything and do nothing with your own hands, which, taking into account metal prices today, is not so profitable.
Criterion 9. Prospects
The most difficult question for me is that, in general, I don’t want a walk-behind tractor, but a small mini-tractor. Working on it is both easier and more enjoyable. It can be made from a walk-behind tractor. But this is best done with a heavy walk-behind tractor. We even sell ready-made kits. That is, you have a heavy walk-behind tractor, buy such a set (it costs about 400 bucks), and assemble a mini-tractor. The quality of these kits is still being complained about, but the manufacturer is slowly improving.
From a light walk-behind tractor, a mini-tractor, as for me, is more difficult to make. But probably. That is why I do not reject such a prospect.
Video: walk-behind tractor review
As a result, my choice of a walk-behind tractor was most significantly influenced by two factors - the desired functionality and features of the site. The model that I have settled on for now (it’s winter now, you can take your time and think again) is a light walk-behind tractor with a 7-horsepower gasoline engine, direct transmission and a gearbox with three speeds forward and one back. It makes no sense to name the brand, since it is all Chinese, and differs only in stickers and color.