What is Better for Plowing – Tractor or ATV?

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Agricultural machinery has made farmers’ lives much easier as it relates to all sorts of yard and fieldwork. Still, there are a lot of machines and components available to choose from, some of the most common being tractors and ATVs for plowing. Each has its own benefits and disadvantages according to the task, so it can be tough to decide which tool is better for the job. 

What is better for plowing – tractor or ATV? If you are plowing a large agricultural field, or even a few acres of land, a tractor is the better option. However, for small garden spaces or snow plowing, an ATV would be better. 

Each type of machinery is characterized by traits that could make it suitable for multiple types of plowing. However, it’s important that you choose the appropriate circumstances to exercise the strengths of either the tractor or ATV to get the job done as efficiently as possible. To help you with this decision, here are a few factors to consider when choosing between an ATV and tractor for plowing.

What to Know About Tractor Plowing

Tractor plowing is much easier and faster than non-mechanized tilling. Still, it is incredibly important to move quickly if you will be using a tractor for plowing. At the height of spring, the soil will dry out quickly, for those who live in areas that get water from snowmelt. You have a short window in which to process the soil – if you wait too long, this could lead to some serious trouble with your tractor plow. 

Your tractor can become easily damaged in such circumstances, since the soil will become both hard and rocky. The moisture from the soil will evaporate, which can make the job of plowing much more difficult and harm the health of the soil. This will ultimately interfere with germination if not taken care of before things get too bad. 

Though you must take extra precautions to avoid potential damages from these environmental hazards, your labor will surely be met with the reward as a result of the following benefits:

  • Large expanses of land can be processed in short periods of time.
  • Mechanized plowing achieves the highest level of soil oxygen saturation.
  • Tractor plowing allows for the processing of deeper soil layers.
  • You will be able to perform multiple jobs simultaneously. (For example, the land should be fertilized as your plowing or immediately after.)

Plowing with an ATV

All-terrain vehicles, better known as ATVs, are motorized vehicles designed for use off-road. So, at first thought, this seems to be a great candidate for plowing. When used appropriately, an ATV can be a great option for plowing – both for snow removal and agricultural purposes. 

ATVs run with three types of lift systems

  • Manual
  • Winch
  • Direct lift

A manual or winch lift system would be fitting for occasional plowing for relatively small yards and gardens. Although there may be additional risks, as you’ll have to raise and lower the blades by hand. Blade attachments for ATVs are used primarily for snow plowing and are available in the following configurations:

  • V-shaped: These are meant to push snow to either side of the attachment to the center for a balanced removal effort.
  • Straight: Use this blade type if you need to push the snow to one side or the other by slanting the attachment in the desired direction. 

When plowing an area using an ATV, you would, of course, need to use a plow attachment. Unfortunately, this may introduce even more drawbacks to plowing with an ATV, since this activity demands a lot from your ATV. If you expect to plow a large area, your 4-wheeler’s transmission and cooling system will be pushed to the maximum given the long pull. (Note that plow attachments are recommended for use with electric winches.)

Attachments for ATV Plowing

As you make your decision as to which machine is better for your plowing efforts, give some consideration to what attachments you use as well. Detachable components play a direct role in the ease with which you can plow. You may even find that you can attach the same components to an ATV as you can with a tractor. 

As mentioned earlier, snow plowing with an ATV requires the use of blades that are either V-shaped or straight. These blades vary widely in size and can be fit to vehicles up to a 1-ton truck. Other attachments that are required for ATV snow plowing include:

  • Tire chains
  • Snow thrower

Snow plowing is not the only type of plowing that requires the use of removable pieces, however. ATV attachments for farm and general landscaping or yard care applications are categorized by the following uses:

  • Managing hay (raking, cutting, or hauling)
  • Cultivation (plowing, tilling)
  • Moving dirt
  • Pasture needs (power loader, cutting down tough vegetation, mass feeding livestock)

Attachments for Tractor Plowing

When considering the advantages of ATVs, their versatility should certainly be highlighted, as credited to the wide variety of attachments available for them. However, this versatility is not unique to the ATV. Some of the most common types of tractor attachments include:

  • Cultivation (normally this would be a plow and disc)
  • Landscaping (the rear blade, box blade, etc.)
  • Snow removal (typically one would use a snow blower)
  • Moving or digging dirt (a post hole digger would be great for this job)

The ATV and tractor are both quite strong in the quantity and variety of attachments available on the market. With this in mind, no matter which you choose, you’ll beat hours of hard work in the beating sun. With both, you’ll get your plowing done in only a fraction of the time that you would when working manually. 

Which is Better?

The ideal option for plowing is dependent on what is being processed. For example, if you are removing snow, the ATV would be the better choice. It is built for versatility in a wide range of off-road terrain, so it is much better prepared for operation in the snow. 

It is also highly maneuverable when compared to a tractor, so snow removal would be completed much more quickly and efficiently than if you attempted to do it with a tractor. (Note, however, that tractors are also capable of snow removal, but this is only ideal for larger jobs. Those who are looking to plow large pastures would do well to choose a tractor for this job instead.)

If you’re preparing a field for crops, the use of a tractor would be a no-brainer – especially if the field is a large stretch of land. You will surely get the job done much faster than you would with any other machinery, and all the land would be processed deeply and equally. But your small backyard garden? Get the ATV, since it is much better suited for a small space. 

To sum it up, here are the primary differences in plowing with a tractor versus an ATV:

Benefits of Plowing with a Tractor vs. an ATV
Large stretches of agricultural land?Tractor
Small gardens or other planting areas smaller than an agricultural field?ATV
Good for snow plowing as well?ATV
Speed?Either Tractor or ATV, depending on the circumstances.

Each type of machinery is characterized by its own unique advantages and drawbacks. Truthfully, they are incomprehensibly better than having to process the land with a digging stick and the help of a horse or another livestock animal. You must simply review the requirements of the task at hand and determine which is best for your circumstances.


Shanna is the 2nd half of Top Outdoor Survival. Like Forest, she has a passion for guns and knives. They love to go on a survival trip at least once a year. They love to go camping, hiking, and traveling.

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