Progressive Farmer Reader Insights Winners

Tractor Owners Choose

Dan Miller
By  Dan Miller , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Reader Insights Tractor Segment Winners (Progressive Farmer and logos courtesy of Kubota and John Deere and New Holland)

Progressive Farmer's newest Reader Insights Tractor Study puts John Deere, Kubota and New Holland at the top of the ratings scale in the nine categories of our annual survey.

Kubota ranks highest among tractor brands for both Overall Durability and Overall Customer Experience. John Deere ranks highest among tractor brands for Overall Loyalty.

John Deere won the highest marks for Best Ownership Experience (midsize and full-size tractors); for Most Durable (full-size tractor); and for Highest Owner Loyalty (compact, mid-size and full-size tractors).

Readers rated Kubota highest on Best Ownership Experience (compact tractor) and Most Durable (compact tractor).

Reader Insights respondents rated New Holland as the Most Durable tractor in the midsize tractor category.

Progressive Farmer Reader Insights is a first-of-its-kind study series designed to give a voice to owners about their experiences with their tractors and other farming equipment. The Reader Insights program measures the overall experience and satisfaction farmers and ranchers have with the tractors they rely on every day. Feedback from readers provides tractor manufacturers and farm-level consumers an unvarnished look at their products directly from tractor owners.

The survey includes three overall categories -- Best Ownership Experience, Most Durable and Highest Owner Loyalty. Each category measures three tractor sizes determined by horsepower. Compact tractors are those below 100 hp. Midsize tractors are 100 to 235 hp, and full-size are 236 hp and above.

This is the second year tractors have been evaluated through the Reader Insights Survey.

READER-BASED RESULTS

"When today's farmers and ranchers need to make a purchase this critical to their everyday operations, having independent tractor ratings from their peers is a confidence builder," says George Owens, president and principal consultant at SOCAL Approach Marketing and Consulting Group. "Access to the feedback of other farmers and ranchers using the same equipment is critical in making informed purchase decisions."

SOCAL Approach uses data-driven insights and user experiences with well-known brands to provide the outcomes of this survey, which gathered 7,755 tractor evaluations from 2,262 mostly crop farmers -- about 3.5 evaluations per person.

Sixty-one percent of owners work more than 500 acres of land, 4% operate 5,000 acres or more. Almost 60% of respondents lease land. Corn and soybeans are the two most common crops managed by survey respondents. Two-thirds of respondents report operating a full-time agribusiness.

Here are results and details from this Reader Insights survey:

-- 72% of all tractors were acquired from a dealer, 19% through a private party, 9% at auction.

-- 60% of all tractors were purchased with cash, with most of the remainder being financed.

-- The importance of both the dealer and its proximity to a farmer's operation becomes increasingly important the larger the tractor.

-- Maintaining a tractor by oneself was a primary consideration in 66% of all tractor acquisitions.

-- Ownership experience is comprised of six factors: brand reputation, reliability/durability, repairability, ease of operation, cost to own and resale value. Of the six attributes, ease of operation scores highest among respondents, with reliability/durability and repairability all scoring above average.

-- Durability is comprised of 13 problem areas. Among them are engine performance, lighting/electrical, fuel system, seat comfort/adjustability, advanced technology and drivetrain. Of all tractors evaluated, the top problems identified by readers include HVAC, battery and lighting/electrical. Hydraulics/hitch, seat comfort/adjustability and drivetrain wear/tear are also often reported.

Among small tractors top problem areas include battery, lighting/electrical and seat comfort/adjustability. Among medium tractors, readers pointed to HVAC, battery and lighting/electrical as top problems. Among large tractor owners, the top problems reported in this survey included HVAC, hydraulics/hitch, battery and drivetrain wear/tear.

-- Owner reliability is based on three different factors: likelihood of recommending a tractor brand to others; likelihood of purchasing another tractor of the same brand; likelihood of purchasing any product from the same brand. Respondents would recommend their tractor brand for almost two-thirds (65%) of the tractors reviewed. But, this is true more so for larger tractors than smaller tractors.

-- The Readership Insights survey asked tractor owners about their most durable tractor brands as measured by problems per unit. The top five brands (in order) with the least amount of problems reported by respondents are Kubota, Case IH, John Deere, New Holland and Massey Ferguson. The average number of problems per unit across all brands was 1.21.

-- Best overall brands according to respondents are (in order) Kubota, John Deere, New Holland, Case IH and Versatile.

-- Interesting to note is that fewer than half of all tractors received top ratings across the board for all three metrics of loyalty (recommend the brand, would purchase another tractor from same brand, would purchase any product from same brand).

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-- Follow Dan on Twitter @DMillerPF

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Dan Miller