Skid steer loaders are wonderfully useful versatile pieces of earthmoving equipment, and their adaptability makes them ideal for tackling the various loading, digging and earthmoving jobs to be found on the average farm. However, choosing the right skid steer loader for agricultural use can be a challenge; with an enormous variety of configurations and makes to choose from.
As such, hiring a skid steer loader requires a touch of thought and planning to make sure you aren't left with a machine that is thoroughly unfit for purpose. Keep the following questions in mind when choosing a skid steer to hire, to make sure that the machine you use is up to the various challenges of agricultural work:
Should I choose a vertical lift or radial lift loader?
The terms 'vertical lift' and 'radial lift' refer to the way the main arm of the skid steer raises itself. Vertical lift loaders feature arms that raise in a straight, vertical line until they reach their maximum height; radial lift loaders, on the other hand, have arms that arc backwards towards the driver's cab as they approach their full height.
This may seem like a rather inconsequential difference, and both types of loader are generally capable of tackling all types of earthmoving work. However, each type of lifting mechanism excels in a certain area. Vertical lifting arms provide more control and lateral reach, and are ideal for carrying loads, loading trailers and dump trucks and other jobs that primarily involve handling materials.
Radial lifting arms, on the other hand, are more difficult to control but have a wider range of motion, particularly below the level of the loader itself. As such, they are ideally suited to digging and excavation work, and are often used to excavate large loads of manure and impacted soil.
Is the skid steer loader fitted with suitable tyres?
The tyres fitted to most general-purpose skid steers are all-terrain tyres, and are capable of functioning on relatively rough ground. However, if your skid steer is going to be used on more hazardous ground, such as ploughed earth or water-logged clay, you should ask the hire service to fit more suitable tyres, or choose a skid steer already fitted with tyres up to the challenge.
The type of tyre you need depends largely on the hazards presented by the ground you will be working on. Off-road tyres have deep tracks and excellent grip, and are useful for wet uneven ground. Turf tyres are buoyant and feature very shallow tracks, making them useful for working in turf and crop fields without causing significant damage to plants.
You should also consider whether to choose pneumatic or solid tyres. While pneumatic tyres are filled with air like most vehicle tyres, solid tyres are filled with rubber or rigid foam to create a solid, unyielding tyre -- these tyres are extremely durable, puncture-proof and can find purchase on almost any type of ground, but can make for a very uncomfortable ride. They also tend to sink in very wet ground.
What attachments are included with the skid steer loader?
Skid steers are valued for their versatility above all else, and their lifting arms can be equipped with an enormous variety of attachments, ranging from simple excavation buckets to powerful demolition drills. You should therefore make sure that your loader is equipped with all the arm attachments you will need to tackle your chosen project -- many attachments are included as free extras with the cost of hiring your loader, while others are available at an extra surcharge.
When choosing the attachments you will require, you should also consider whether your attachments are powered or not. Powered attachments such as pumps and augers will need to draw their power directly from the loader, and some loaders may require extra hydraulic pump attachments to cope with the extra strain.