Your Reading List

Do You Need All That HP?

Calculate your horsepower requirement

Are you in the market for a new tractor and need to calculate exactly how much horsepower you need? Below are three websites that offer a lot of useful information to help you make a decision. Even if you’ve already decided how much power you want, these websites may offer you some new insight.

The Iowa State University Extension Department has an online resource to help you calculate power requirements for tillage and seeding equipment. The page also has a calculator program you can use to factor in a variety of variables. Just click on the calculator symbol. Here’s the address:


Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development also has a web page with information on matching horsepower requirements to tillage implements, and it’s an excellent resource for matching a tractor to an air seeder. The site: department/deptdocs. nsf/all/eng8090 John Deere’s small tractor needs analyser gives you the horsepower requirement for the job you want to do. Of course, it also recommends the best John Deere model for the job but you can easily carry the stated specifications over to other brands.


Many of today’s very large implements demand a lot of power. That’s why we see tractors pushing the 600-horsepower mark. But for many producers, a much smaller tractor will meet their needs.

Last winter I bought a small tractor with only 45 PTO horsepower (hp.) We needed it around the yard to move bales and take care of numerous tasks that made an older 120-hp loader tractor clumsy and awkward. So I decided paying for dual SCVs wouldn’t be worth the extra cost. After all, with only 45 hp, what could I really do with this thing anyway?

But events this summer would make me reconsider the abilities of the little tractor and ask the question: Are many of us on a horsepower binge? Why ask that? Well, up until this summer, we were using that 120-hp tractor to take care of cutting and baling hay. A breakdown forced me to try using the new little tractor to cut hay. And it did the job easily.

A few decades ago, nearly identical work was being done on this farm. Back then all the farm’s tractors combined couldn’t produce 120 hp, and the work was being done nearly as fast.

Lately, many of us have chosen to do similar work with much larger tractors, which guzzle fuel

About the author


Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.



Stories from our other publications