If you are thinking of buying a tractor, you are probably thinking about what horsepower machine you need.

For most people, this tends to be driven by what they’ve had before and whether there are any particular implements on the farm that have minimum power requirements.

First, you need to navigate through the confusing ways that different manufacturers refer to horsepower – rated or maximum – remember that it is rated hp that is important to compare. But, even when you’ve settled on the horsepower you are after, it can still be confusing, because many tractor manufacturers also offer horsepower overlaps at the top and bottom of their ranges, meaning that there may well be more than one model that fits your power requirements. How do you choose?

Charles Blessley, Marketing Manager at Case IH said: “It is easy to assume that bigger means better, but depending on how you will use the new tractor, you might find that a smaller machine offers advantages, and bigger tractors tend to also cost more money.”

So, when is it better to choose one over the other? Mr Blessley gives us his top tips below:


It probably goes without saying, but a smaller-sized tractor will often be cheaper to buy, so unless you particularly need a larger machine, there can be immediate savings from choosing one from a smaller range with the same horsepower. Not only will the initial cost be cheaper, but fuel efficiency will also be improved.


Whilst a certain level of power might be necessary to run a mixer wagon, for example, it’s likely that the benefits of backing the wagon easily around a corner in one go, rather than three, are going to be a deal breaker for many, so choosing a smaller machine can bring advantages. Physical dimensions are also important – if it won’t fit in your barn or down your farm lanes then it isn’t much use! Equally, there is no point having a highly manoeuvrable tractor if it isn’t heavy enough to safely tow the trailers or implements that you regularly use, and this can be an important consideration, particularly on farms with hilly ground.

Weight and strength

If you are regularly using your tractor for heavy draft work or lots of heavy road work then a large tractor is likely to be more stable and provide additional control. What’s more, larger ranges tend to have stronger driveline components to cope with the maximum horsepower in that range, so if you buy one of the lower-powered tractors in that range you are getting the advantage of stronger components and more stability.

Power to weight ratio

Naturally, a lighter tractor with similar power will offer more power-to-weight ratio, which can improve performance and throttle response. There’s no point thinking that a bigger machine will help you pull that heavy slurry tanker up a steep hill if the power is the same as a smaller machine, as overall weight will be greater and so, if anything, the performance may be less.

If in doubt, try it out: If you are not sure which range is right for your needs then ask your local dealer if you can try all relevant ranges to see which works best on your farm.

To find out more or if you’d like to organise a demonstration on your farm then contact your local Case IH dealer on 01268 292200