power take off powering implement on a tractor

What is Power Take-Off (PTO) on a tractor?

The power take-off (PTO) system on some tractors transfers power between the engine and various implements. The PTO connects to the tractor's transmission, allowing the engine to be powered by direct input from the ground or an additional source, such as a hydraulic pump.

A tractor stub shaft or PTO stub is used to transfer power from the tractor to the drive shaft. Without power take-off (PTO), the tractor would have to stop and reverse its engine whenever it wanted to move.

History of power take-off in tractor 

The history of power take-off can be traced back to ancient times when humans tried to harness the power of movement. 

Scientists did not discover a power transmission method employing a moving component until the 19th century. 

Early transmissions included flat belts, which had been used for 200 years. But this power transmission method had limitations, as it was only applicable to stationary vehicles. 

Later, rotating wheels were invented to power the implement by distributing through roller chains. However, this method was no longer practical due to the high complexity of the machinery. 

IHC's invention of PTO by Edward A. Johnston in 1918 made tractor power much more efficient and easier to manage. Power take-off (PTO) allows engines to be mounted directly on the tractor frame, eliminating the need for a transmission or gears.  

This simplifies operation and decreases wear on the engine and other components. Plus, PTO allows tractors to pull larger loads than ever before without breaking down.

Classification of PTO

The different types of power take-off (PTO) available on tractors have other purposes.

1. Live PTO

In tractors with live PTO, the PTO shaft is attached to a two-stage clutch.

This allows the tractor to be driven forward or reverse without changing gears. 

 When used in reverse, the clutch disengages the PTO shaft from the gearbox and reengages it when you push on the emergency brake pedal. 

 The advantage of this system is that you can quickly move your equipment around without having to stop and change gears.

2. Non-live PTO

Compared to live PTO, non-live PTO stops receiving power when the clutch is engaged. 

Non-live PTOs are typically used for implements that require high momentum, such as mowers. When using a high-momentum implement with a non-live PTO, you will need to run it over a clutch to engage the power.

3. Transmission PTO

The PTO shaft is the simplest type of transmission PTO shaft. 

It directly connects to the transmission, so you can't drive the tractor when you press the clutch to engage the PTO. This type of PTO is typically found in older tractors.

4. Reverse PTO

When a tractor gets stuck, the last thing you want to do is have to turn it around by hand.  

That's where the reverse PTO comes in handy. You can quickly reverse the tractor's direction by using a button, making it quick and easy to get unstuck.  

This feature is handy for farm equipment, as it can save you a lot of time and hassle when you need to reverse your tractor.

5. Economy PTO

As the name suggests, economy PTO is the best solution for high-cost and noisy tractors. 

The PTO economy is a tractor that runs at lower rpm, decreasing vibration and fuel consumption. 

This also decreases the noise production from the tractor, making it more suitable for baling, mowing, and tilling tasks.

6. Independent PTO

An independent PTO contains a separate clutch that controls the tractor. There are two main types of independent PTO — mechanical and hydraulic. 

Hydraulic-independent PTO works on a single selector, whereas a mechanical-independent PTO works with a separate on-off selector. To change the selector, the tractor needs to stop. 

Uses of Power Take-Off 

PTO is a system that allows the operator to use the engine's power to run the equipment. The PTO can power various attachments, making it a versatile tool for farmers and ranchers. There are many uses for PTOs in tractors. 

1. Brush hogging

The PTO can power a brush hog, which is an attachment and an excellent option for clearing overgrown areas or preparing a field for planting.

2. Mowing

The power take-off (PTO) can also power a mower deck, making mowing your lawn or pasture a breeze.

3. Snow removal

In the winter, a snowblower attachment can be powered by the PTO, making snow removal tasks much easier.

4. Logging

If you have some land with trees that need to be cleared, the PTO can power a log splitter or sawmill attachment and help you turn all that wood into usable lumber.

5. Tilling

Need to break up some ground for gardening or planting? The PTO can power a tiller attachment to prepare the land quickly.

6. Hydraulic pump

Power Take-Off (PTO) is used to power water equipment, such as irrigation or firefighting pumps.

Benefits of PTO 

PTO enable a single tractor to tackle a wide range of tasks, making them an essential tool for farmers, landscapers, and anyone else who needs to get work done in the yard or field. There are many benefits to using a PTO-powered tractor. 

  1. PTO allows you to use attachments that would otherwise be too difficult or dangerous to power by hand. For example, a PTO can power a brush hog, quickly clearing large areas of overgrown vegetation.  
  2. PTO can power a rototiller, which can loosen tough soil so you can prepare it for planting. 
  3. A PTO-powered tractor can save time and effort. For example, if you need to clear a large area of land, you can attach a rotary cutter or brush hog to your tractor and let the PTO do the work for you. This is much faster and easier than clearing the area with smaller powered tools.
  4. PTO provides an extra power boost, resulting in increased torque. This is especially beneficial for tasks that require a lot of force, such as plowing or tilling.


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