Call it what you will: a mower, mover, cultivator or grader. The list of names can go on and on, but in reality, this machine is your tractor, and, depending on the attachments you use, it can transform into almost any kind of heavy-duty outdoor tool you want. The key is finding the right attachments.
"Attachments are the arms and legs that essentially give versatility and functionality to your tractor. When you match the right tractor with the right attachments, you have an invaluable multipurpose tool that makes outdoor chores go faster, and better yet, more enjoyable," explains Dan Paschke, from John Deere Commercial and Consumer Equipment Division. To help people match attachments with needs, Paschke provides answers to some frequently asked questions:
Q: With so many attachments available, how do I decide what I really need?
A: Your dealer can be an excellent resource. Some factors to consider are:
• Tasks: What do you want to do with your tractor?
• Speed: How fast do you want to operate?
• Space: Consider storage space and if you will be working around any obstacles.
Q: How does my choice of tractor factor into my choice of attachments?
A: The tractor is the key factor in ensuring that attachments operate properly. Some ways to determine if your tractor is capable of operating attachments are:
• PTO, or Power Take Off horsepower-rather than engine horsepower-is a good gauge of a tractor's true capabilities to handle attachments.
• If you are working with attachments or implements that require frequent changes in direction or speed, you may want to consider a tractor that has a more user-friendly transmission, such as a hydrostatic or power reverser.
• The higher the GPM (gallons per minute), the better the hydraulic power. A tandem hydraulic pump provides power to both the steering and implements without robbing power from the other.
Q: Isn't it cumbersome to remove and replace attachments from the tractor all of the time?
A: Not always. For instance, John Deere offers the iMatch Quick Hitch on its tractors. This innovative and affordable feature allows operators to easily connect attachments to their tractor without leaving the operator seat. Simply back up your tractor and slide on the PTO shaft.
Q: What challenges come with buying attachments that are made by a different manufacturer than my tractor?
A: John Deere and Frontier attachments are designed to be fully integrated with John Deere tractors, thus ensuring optimum performance from that attachment. And for customers owning a John Deere tractor with iMatch, nearly all of these implements and attachments are iMatch compatible. Off-brand implements and attachments can work as well, but there are some potential pitfalls. First, you frequently get what you pay for. Second, warranties, guarantees and dealer support may not be what you would expect. Finally, you may lose a lot of ease of use.
Q: Are there any safety issues to be aware of when working with attachments?
A: A rule of thumb for safely operating attachments is to understand and follow counterbalance guidelines. Attachments have different weights and can change the center of gravity, causing a potential tipping hazard. Your dealer should walk you through how to counterbalance your tractor for the best and safest operating practices.
Q: Where is the best place to look for attachments?
A: An area dealer is a great place to start because they have the knowledge, resources and expertise at their fingertips to give you the exact requirements to make sure your attachments and machine are used properly and effectively.