Tractor Tips

Fire breaks and fire control

Creating and maintaining fire breaks throughout your property are essential for conducting prescribed burns. Fire breaks also serve as a safety buffer if someone else’s fire gets out of control. Even if you have established fire breaks, they become useless when they become covered with leaves and pine needles. Scraping a swath through the breaks keeps them clean and free from debris.

A scrape blade that can be adjusted 180 degrees also comes in handy for grading and smoothing when used as a small bulldozer blade. If you are burning brush piles, there are often a lot of limbs and debris that don’t burn around the edge of the fire. A scrape blade turned backward is handy for pushing the unburned debris into the burn pile. Select a blade that has an adjustable, offset blade and dirt and debris can be pushed efficiently. Often, the width of one, 6-foot scrape blade or box blade is all you need to safely tend the perimeters of prescribed fires.

You may have used a tank sprayer for spraying herbicides. This same sprayer can be washed out and filled with water to help control any fires.

Road repair

With a bucket attached to the front-end loader and a box blade attached to the rear, you can use a tractor to improve your roads and save lots of money. Since you want the crown of the road to be a couple of inches higher than the shoulder, the front-end bucket can be used to pull dirt from the sides of the road onto the crown. Use the scrape of the box blade to smooth the dirt. The front-end loader can be used to dump gravel on the freshly graded roads. Smooth out the gravel with the scrape or box blade.

Timber management

 Invest in a debris grapple that hooks to the front-end attachment of your tractor. The grapple makes cleaning out after a timber harvest easy. You can grab a large pile of limbs stacked for burning, all from the comfort of your tractor seat. This implement allows the operator to grab only roots, stumps and limbs, not the dirt.


If a simple, three-point, hitch-mounted boom won’t lift bulky items, you can purchase or build your own carry-all for the tractor. Contract with a local welder and give him an idea of the carry-all you need. The carry-all can mount to my three-point hitch, be wide and long enough to hold a 55-gallon drum full of heavy material, and large enough to mount a sprayer. For about $200 you could have a useful addition to your farm or lease.

Getting started

If you have a front-end loader with a bucket, repairing access roads, carrying multiple bags of lime and fertilizer and carrying scoops of gravel is easier. An old-fashioned tractor boom that mounts to the rear three-point hitch makes dragging a log or hoisting a deer much easier.

Be creative with your tractor to find new uses for this workhorse, but remember, don’t use the tractor in unsafe conditions, and avoid uses not covered in the manual.

If your tractor is a diesel, take precautions to keep the air, fuel and screen protecting your radiator clean. These can become clogged with debris and cause quick overheating. Take care of your tractor, and it will take care of all your land-management needs. 

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