How Do Farm Tractors Work?

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The Purpose of a Tractor

  • The farm tractor is built to provide a large amount of traction force at very low speeds. Most often, it is used to either push or pull other heavy equipment or cargo around a farm. It is such an adaptable and useful machine for farming that it has become an icon of modern agriculture. The basic design of a tractor calls for a set of enlarged rear wheels behind a set of smaller front wheels. This configuration, along with what is most often a diesel engine, provides the tractor with its pulling and pushing power.

Operating a Tractor

  • Most farm tractors are operated using pedals on the floor of the cab. The leftmost pedal is usually the clutch. Just like in any other motor vehicle, the clutch is used to switch gears in the tractor's transmission. The two pedals to the right are brakes for the left and right rear wheels. The ability to stop one wheel at a time allows the tractor to make very sharp turns, which are particularly useful when navigating the rows of a planted field. Both pedals are pressed to stop the tractor completely. A pedal in front of the seat controls the rear differential lock, which allows the driver to adjust the traction of the outside and inside wheels during a turn to prevent wheel slippage. The rightmost pedal is the throttle, which controls the speed of the tractor. In addition to the control pedals, a tractor cab is often outfitted with various switches or levers controlling things like outside hydraulics. The functions of these levers and switches are different for each type of tractor.

Uses for Tractors

  • The uses for the farm tractor are almost endless. It can be outfitted with different types of machinery to perform a variety of farm tasks. The tractor can often be seen pulling trailers, plows, tillers and other agricultural equipment too heavy to be operated by hand. Specialized tractors are also made for specific types of farming. Some tractors are meant to operate best in the rows of a cornfield, and others are made to navigate the marshes of a rice farm.

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