A utility farm tractor with 52 to 75 horsepower will weigh an average of 5,264lb (2,388kg). The total weight will quickly increase with any additions like ballast boxes, liquid ballasts, or suitcase and wheel weights.
If you’re in the market for a new tractor, it can be difficult to know what you are looking for, and in particular, why tractor weight is so important. A heavy tractor will have better traction and more stability during more demanding work, but how do you offset stability against fuel economy and maneuverability?
We’ve put together this quick guide to give you a primer on tractor weights, clearing the field to decide on the right option for you.
Tractor Weight: The Basics
The weight of a tractor determines productivity. Weight will determine a range of factors, including the maximum load capacity, towing power, speed limits, and fuel consumption, to name a few.
Heavier tractors can have truly astounding traction and stability, making them perfect for land cultivation as they can settle deep into the soil with nothing but gravity. Any additional weight you add to the tractor will help prevent any wheel slip, stabilizing the tractor further when hauling heavy loads or going up hilly terrain.
Unfortunately, a heavy tractor will go through its fuel very quickly and will not be easy to drive over soft ground. Remember however that removing the ballast weights is an easy fix to these problems in many situations, so don’t rule out a heavy tractor too quickly.
If you opt for a lighter tractor, you will have the benefits of improved fuel economy, increased speed, and ease of storage. On the other hand, a light tractor will not cope with heavy ground manipulation in the same way that a more substantial vehicle would as they lack the required traction.
You need to think first and foremost about the workload and the condition of the ground that you intend to work your tractor on.
How Much Does A Tractor Weigh
Tractors come in a myriad of sizes and shapes, each with unique weights. However, all tractors will have a base weight. This base weight does not change unless essential elements of the tractor are removed… rendering it no longer a tractor!
In the US, the average weight of a tractor is 15,628lb (7,089kg). This average weight however is skewed somewhat away from your average commercial buyer by the machinery operated by huge farming companies.
If you discount these monster trucks, you are left with an average weight of 5,264lb (2,388kg) for a tractor with 52 to 75 horsepower. As the engine’s power is directly proportional to the weight of the tractor, you can conclude that a heavy tractor will have more horsepower.
The manufacturer will also have some control over the tractor’s weight. If you look at two tractors with the same horsepower made by two different brands, you’ll probably find that there are some significant weight discrepancies. We therefore recommend that you check the weight of every tractor on an individual basis.
Don’t forget that this weight is just the base weight – anything else you add to your tractor like a full tank of fuel, a trailer, cargo, new tires, a different cabin, or ballasts will make it heavier.
Increasing Tractor Weight
If you need a heavier tractor – perhaps to make plowing tough soil easier – it’s easy to increase your own tractor’s weight with some ballasts.
Keep in mind that it is not recommended to increase your tractor’s weight by more than 10%. Anything more than this and you may get through fuel too quickly and put too much strain on the drivetrain.
The two most common methods of increasing tractor weight are either using a ballast weight system or injecting liquid into the tires.
Suitcase weights: These weights hang from the front or rear of the tractor frame. You can easily stack these until you get the required load.
Wheel weights: These weights will increase the tire traction, making them ready for the sloppiest of fields. Make sure that you purchase weights with the correct bolt pattern to match your wheel!
Ballast box: Fill the ballast box with sand, gravel, or concrete and attach it to the rear hitch of the tractor to add weight quickly. You can even make them yourself if you are feeling adventurous.
Liquid ballasting involves injecting liquid into the tires of the tractor. Keep in mind that this method will make your tractor heavier quickly, but will make changing the tires more expensive and significantly more difficult.
You need to choose the correct liquid to fill your tires with:
Water: The most available of all the liquids, inexpensive, and is safe to use. Don’t use water to inject your tires in the cold as water expands as it freezes, potentially ruining your tires. It’s also not as dense as other liquids so you will need a lot of it to weigh down your tractor.
Antifreeze: Mix antifreeze with water so that the solution is 50% water and 50% antifreeze. This solution is better for injecting into tires as it will tolerate temperatures down to -35°F (-37°C). However, antifreeze is toxic and is quite expensive.
Calcium chloride: This compound liquid is roughly 40% heavier than water by the gallon. It will happily tolerate temperatures down to -60°F (-50°C). However, it’s highly corrosive (and also toxic).
Windshield washer fluid: Washer fluid can tolerate temperatures below -20°F (-28°C), depending on the formula but is no more dense than water and is quite pricey. It’s also likely to irritate your skin and lungs if you are exposed to it as washer fluid tends to have high amounts of methanol.
Beet juice: Beet juice is denser than water and has a freezing point of around -35°F (-37°C) and is neither toxic nor corrosive. It is also a great way to lower cholesterol!
The average weight of a tractor – excluding the ones used by big industrial suppliers – is 5,264lb (2,338kg). This weight will belong to any tractor that has anything from 52 to 75 horsepower.
Increasing tractor weight may be necessary to make plowing or hauling heavy items across soft terrain easier. This can be expensive so it may be best to combine a few methods of increasing tractor weight.
If you choose to use liquid ballasts and inject your tires, take care not to cause unnecessary damage as they’ll be expensive to replace.