Like traditional tractors, two-wheeled tractors (aka ‘walk-behinds’) use an independent power take off (PTO) for attaching and powering various farming and landscaping implements. Rather than purchasing specialized power equipment (i.e. mowers, branch chippers, snowblowers, soil tillers etc.) that each have their own engines that perform only one or two functions, the walk-behind owner has to maintain only one engine and attach whatever tool is required for the job at-hand.
The beauty of a walk-behind tractor’s design is that it is quite nimble, and can work in spaces where traditional tractors can’t. Ours is equally comfortable in the forest – shredding branches and hauling out firewood – as it is in open areas tilling soil, removing snow and bailing hay. It can also serve as a material transport machine by attaching a cargo trailer (with the added bonus of giving the operator somewhere to sit!). A cool and unique feature is that the handlebar steering mechanism can be rotated 180° so the business-end of the PTO can be positioned in push mode (mowing, tilling etc.) or pull mode (dozing, transport, etc)
Two-wheeled tractors have a long history of agricultural use in Europe. The two major manufacturers, BCS and Grillo, are both based in Italy and make commercial-grade lines of machines that are built to last. Unlike two-wheeled units one finds at the big box stores, these machines have all-gear transmissions, and wheel differentials on the higher-end models which allow for quick and easy turns. There are multiple attachments and implements available from the manufactures and third-party providers, and a reasonably-wide US dealer network.
The upfront costs are higher, but the long-term benefits of owning equipment that will last for decades, plus the convenience of only maintaining one 12HP Honda gas engine for all our needs, made for an elegant and practical solution for our property (diesel versions also available). While these machines may not be the best tool if you are working 40 acres, they can serve as a practical alternative to a full or medium-sized tractor if you have the right mix of homestead, farming or gardening needs.