What Size Tiller For My Tractor?

So you’ve decided to get a rotary tiller. One that works well with your tractor, is well-suited to your soil conditions and is a long-lasting tool. To find the greatest tiller for you, it takes more than just heading down to your local dealer and driving home with your new equipment.

There are several variables to consider while purchasing a tiller. What is your tractor’s width? What is the horsepower of the engine? How is the condition of your soil? Is there any rock in the vicinity? What size should you get? 

Read on to find out the answers to these many questions so you can find the right tiller for your needs. 

What Size Tiller Should You Get?

You should choose a tiller that is somewhat wider than the maximum width of your tractor. This size means that you will be able to till out your tire tracks with each pass.

Even though they do not have a lot of horsepowers, certain early tractors (such as the Ford 8N) have been built to be very wide. For those tractors, you can obtain an ‘offset’ tiller that will let you fully cover one of the two-wheel tracks.

The tire track on the other side will be left exposed. This allows you to till without leaving tire marks in one direction.

One of the most common tractors used on farms is subcompact tractors. The bulk of these new sub-compact tractors has comparable dimensions and horsepower. With just under 25 horsepower and a breadth of just under 4 feet, it’s a powerful machine.

For these tractors, get a 4 ft tiller. This will be the perfect width. It can survive the hardest tilling conditions, fit through tiny gates (about 54 inches wide), and completely cover wheel tracks.

Some folks utilize tillers that are 54 or even 60 inches long. A 60-inch tiller will suffice in an existing garden. 

If you have a Deere 2-Series or Kubota B-Series tractor, use the same guidelines to find a tiller that is the same width as your tractor.

Of course, if you have one of the larger frame tractors with 25 horsepower (3025E, L2501, etc. ), you may not be able to manage a ‘full-tractor-width’ tiller. Choose an offset 4 ft. model once more in this scenario.

Do You Want Forward Or Reverse Rotation?

Because not all manufacturers offer a reverse-till rotary tiller, the answer to this question may limit your options. Your capacity to use a reverse-rotation model may also be limited by your soil conditions. A reverse-till model will do a considerably better job of seedbed preparation with fewer passes.

The reverse tilling action of the rotor aids in the burying of leftovers as well as large clods of earth, while the particles are placed on top. Forward-till models do not bury the residue as well as back-till models, resulting in larger clods being closer to the surface and needing more passes to achieve comparable results.

Before you buy a reverse-till model, think about your soil type. The rotor of a reverse-rotation tiller spins in the opposite direction as the tractor, dragging it into the ground.

Rotors in forward-rotation variants walk on top of the hardpan and turn in the same direction as the tractor. As a result, reverse-till models will function wonderfully in dry, hard soil or virgin land. 

Forward-rotation tillers are appropriate for established garden spaces or well-aerated soils. Your options are limited to a forward-rotation model if your soil is rocky or contains a lot of clay. Reverse-till variants will pull rocks up and over the rotor, inflicting significant damage to the bonnet and tines.

Do You Want Four Or Six Tine?

The number of tines per flange on the rotor must also be considered. This number, usually four or six, varies by brand and type and should be considered when purchasing a rotary tiller.

The more tines you have, the more horsepower you’ll need to churn the dirt. A tiller with six tines per flange can require up to 23% more horsepower than one with four.

A 25-hp tractor can operate a normal 5-ft rotary tiller with four tines, but a 31-hp tractor is required for the same 5-ft rotary tiller with six tines.

With six tines, a 40-hp need becomes around 50 hp. This is significant and should be taken into account before purchasing. Also, more tines per flange equals more weight. Make sure your compact tractor is powerful enough to lift a six-tine tiller off the ground.

Gear Or Chain?

The driving options for three-point rotary tillers are either chain or gear. Both have their benefits, but gear-drive tillers have several drawbacks that may make them inappropriate for your tractor.

Tillers with chain or gear drives have rotor speeds of about 200 revolutions per minute (rpm), which is plenty for tilling at 2 mph. Both tillers have end-mounted driving systems that are simple to maintain. 

Gear-drive tillers impart greater torque to the soil and are therefore better for virgin soil, although chain-drive tillers will suffice. Weight can be a limiting factor depending on the size of your small tractor; gear-drive tillers weigh more than chain-drive tillers.

Another factor to consider is repair. Chains and gears are both components that last a long time. If you break a chain, though, you can get a new one from practically any farm supply store the next day and be back in business.

That cannot be stated with gear-driven variants, where even if the components are delivered overnight, you would miss at least a day.


These are just some of the things you should consider when buying a tiller for your tractor, but there are many other factors you need to think about when making the right choice for your machinery and work. These include the rotation speed, weight, and flexibility of the tiller, just to name a few. 

When buying a tiller do your own research on what you need, and maybe even test a few out if you have the opportunity to do so. 

Ryan Genkin
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