Skid Steer vs Tractor: Agriculture & Construction Applications

If you’re wondering whether you should hire a skid steer or tractor for your project, we’re breaking down the differences between the two and how they’re used, so you can decide which will work best for your job site.

Here, we'll cover the different tasks each machine is perfect for, as well as the construction and agricultural applications for both.

Skid steer vs tractor: what are the advantages of a skid steer?

A skid steer is a versatile, compact piece of earthmoving equipment that can be used for a wide variety of construction & agricultural tasks, offering more maneuverability in tight spaces.

What are the Construction Applications for Skid Steers?

Skid steers are most prolifically used in construction applications.  There are two types of skid steer - a posi-track, which is compelled by tracks, and a wheeled skid steer, which is compelled by wheels. Both are skid steers and are sometimes called Bobcats. You can read more about Bobcats vs Skid Steers here.


Skid steers can be used to dig trenches, auger holes, lift materials,  landscape, excavate, level, grade, doze materials, pour and spread concrete, and rip and remove stubborn items like rocks, roots, and pavers. There are about 65 skid steer attachments that can turn the skid steer into the most useful, and flexible machine in construction.

You'll see skid steers on almost all big and small earthmoving sites, road construction jobs and commercial excavation sites. After excavators, they are the second most common construction machine in Australia.


What are the Agricultural Applications for Skid Steers?

A skid steer can be used to clear land, brush, and debris during the land preparation process in agriculture, or can be used to move dirt or stockpiles during agricultural production.  You can also dig trenches using skid steers (up to about 4 feet) for water or services, auger fence post holes, place fence posts, and layout chain fence or barb wire.

Skid steers can be used in digging water storage dams or tailings dams. If you need to build unsealed roads on your property, skid steers can help with levelling, laying materials, and compacting materials. Grapple attachments can help you rip out roots, and rocks and move logs around.

Skid steers aren't used as commonly in agriculture as in construction, but they are found on many large agricultural and farm operations as a rouse-about machine capable of assisting with a variety of tasks.


Skid steer vs tractor: What are the advantages of a tractor?

A tractor is a machine (mostly) used to do work on a farm, such as plowing fields, planting, and harvesting crops, or hauling materials. Tractors are available in a wide range of options to suit specific tasks and requirements. Subcompact or compact tractors are ideal for heavy-duty landscaping jobs and tasks such as digging, hauling, or plowing on large gardens, fields, and pastures.

What are the Construction Applications for Tractors?

A tractor is a versatile piece of equipment, but they aren't used commonly on construction sites unless the job site involves a lot of land clearing or forestry activities. They can be used to level ground or grade land for construction purposes, tow heavy equipment or large loads, mow large expanses of grass, assist in landscaping activities, or spread materials using attachments.

Lots of people don't realise that most earthmovers (excavators, graders, backhoes, and dozers ) are actually 'tractors' by nature - in that operate in the same way as tractors, and are the decedents of tractors. They are sometimes called earthmoving tractors in other countries.


Agricultural Applications for Tractors

Utility tractors are designed for agricultural work and pulling, plowing & tilling. Farmers find them versatile because they can perform multiple jobs in the agricultural establishment and production process, by fixing different machines, trailers or attachments to them. They have low to medium-power engines. They plow fields and till the soil, and move logs or other large materials from one place to another. Tractors can haul loads using trailer attachments during the agricultural production process (as demonstrated below).


Skid steer vs tractor: What are the limitations of a skid steer loader?

While skid steers are versatile and can be used for a wide range of tasks, they do come with some limitations. For example, skid steer loaders can be less powerful than other types of heavy equipment and larger loaders, like wheel loaders, so they may not be suitable for large-scale construction sites or heavy lifting duties that larger machines can complete. Additionally, skid steer loaders often require additional attachments in order to perform tasks, which will be something you should consider for the cost of your project.

Skid steer vs tractor: What are the limitations of a tractor?

Like skid steers, tractors also have their limitations. They can be more expensive than skid steer loaders and require additional equipment maintenance costs and downtime. Tractors can also be less maneuverable than skid steers in tight spaces, especially in tight or crowded workspaces. Tractors aren't set up for earthmoving tasks necessarily, so they limit their applications in commercial construction.

Additionally, it's important to note that tractors generally require larger storage spaces than skid steers, which can be an added cost to consider if you're renting this equipment for a short-term project.

Related Articles:

So if you're working in agriculture, it's a no-brainer, you probably need to hire a tractor. Click on these links if you need tractor hire in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Darwin, Hobart & Adelaide.

If you're working in construction, you probably need a skid steer, unless you're doing heaps of land clearing. Click on these links if you need a skid steer in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Darwin , Hobart, and Adelaide.

If you own a skid steer or tractor and you want more work, better work, or reliable work, then you should list your gear or services on iseekplant - it's free, don't stress.