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ATV or Side-by-Side/UTV: Find the Best ORV for Farm Use

We run down the basics on a farm’s most versatile and powerful tool.

Farming is serious business and requires quality dependable tools. With no time to waste, equipment needs to work right every time, and hard-working off-road farm vehicles like ATVs and side-by-sides (SxS/UTV) are no exception. With their cargo capacity, engine reliability and towing performance, these vehicles are indispensable tools. So what should a farmer look for in a vehicle of this type? Let’s have a look at the important factors anyone working in agriculture should consider when buying an off-road vehicle to work alongside them.

Why choose an ATV or Side-by-Side/UTV for farm work?

Farming in the modern age doesn’t resemble its ancestral roots in many ways. You’d be hard-pressed to see a team of oxen pulling a plow today, and much more likely to see large powerful tractors and machinery doing the big work. But what about the everyday tasks like hauling equipment and feed around and towing fence posts to a far corner of the field? It’s in these jobs that ATVs and SxSs/UTVs are the true task masters. Able to accomplish an astonishing variety of jobs, they see constant use in farm settings. Let’s take a look at features in these off-road vehicles that are essential for modern farm work.

Transporting supplies around the property

Probably the biggest help an ATV or side-by-side/UTV can be around a farm is in quickly and easily moving supplies around the property. A large off-road vehicle can easily carry hundreds of pounds of supplies day after day and simplifies an enormous amount of hauling jobs around the farm. Between trailers, racks and beds, off-road vehicles have plenty of options for carrying loads and are a huge time and fuel saver by allowing you to skip firing up a large tractor.

Plowing and tilling the farm's land

By adding a chisel or disc plow attachment to the back of a capable off-road vehicle, your ATV or side-by-side becomes a miniature tractor. When a larger piece of machinery is either too large to fit in a space, or simply overkill, this mini tractor setup can be a handy tool for both crops and landscaping.

 

Carrying firewood to the farm

Harvesting and transporting firewood is often a big task on most farms, and many farmers will tell you it can be downright impossible to get a large piece of machinery into dense woods. That’s when ATVs and SxSs/UTVs come to the rescue: by getting through tight, rough terrain, they can easily haul load after load of firewood to where you need it.

And much, much more

ATVs and side-by-side vehicles are a veritable Swiss Army knife when it comes to tasks, jobs and projects around the farm. With accessories and add-ons, their potential is seemingly endless with jobs like spreading grass seeds, raking leaves, debris or gravel, or hauling building materials around the property.

ATV or Side-by-Side/UTV: which is best for farm work?

By now it’s obvious that these types of off-road vehicles are dependable daily tools in an agricultural context, and many farmers will tell you they’ve redefined their day-to-day jobs. But choosing whether an ATV or SxS is best for your farm is a tougher call. Both are excellent farming rigs, no doubt, but examining your personal needs and circumstances will help you pick the perfect vehicle for your farm. Let’s begin by comparing their advantages.

Cargo and hauling capacity: SxS/UTV

When it comes to an ATV vs. SxS/UTV on the farm, the superior storage of the side-by-side is a significant advantage. While a quad model such as the Can-Am Outlander offers outstanding storage with its high-strength multifunction racks with LinQ™ quick-attach accessory system, side-by-sides have that much more space with their cargo bed, under-seat alcoves and other nooks and crannies. The cargo box on a Can-Am Defender PRO DPS measures 72 x 54.5 x 10 inches and will hold up to 1,000 pounds. And that’s just the box. It also has a 94-gallon (356-liter) storage capacity, with dash, under-dash and lower-box storage as well as a removable water-resistant toolbox. This gives it the versatile ability to carry all manner of supplies, whether it’s a bed full of feed or boxes of tools and supplies in the cabin. 

Storage on most ATV racks is more limited, with the rear rack able to hold around 200 pounds of gear and the front usually coming in around 100 pounds. There are exceptions, such as the Can-Am Outlander MAX 6x6 DPS, that has a front rack and a dual-level cargo box on the rear with 700 pounds of cargo capacity.

Size and manoeuvrability: ATV

While side-by-sides/UTVs win in storage, ATVs rule in manoeuvrability. If you anticipate navigating dense woods or other tight spaces, an ATV might be the tool you’d prefer with its ability to make tight turns. It’s also great to consider that an ATV can fit in the bed of a truck, making it easily transportable. A smaller frame vs. a SxS makes ATVs much easier to store as well.

 

Passengers and safety: SxS/UTV

A side-by-side vehicle, like a car or truck, means the driver can have a passenger beside them, hence its name. If passengers are a regular part of your day-to-day team on the farm, a SxS like the Can-Am Defender can sit three adults, with the MAX version seating up to six. ATVs with their maximum configuration, like the Can-Am Outlander MAX DPS, on the other hand, sit two adults at the most, much like a motorcycle. While passengers might not be a daily requirement, this capacity also expands the utility of your side-by-side vehicle to those rare days off when the entire family can pile into the vehicle for an adventure.

With regard to safety, SxSs/UTVs will also have the advantage because of their rollover safety enclosure with seat belts and side webbing.

Cost: ATV

We know that farms are tightly run financial ships, and one of the big differences in comparing ATVs and SxSs is cost. All that increased storage, size and comfort comes at a price; it’s a much larger vehicle after all. Comparable base models, such as the 2021 Can-Am Outlander 450/570 ATV and the 2021 Can-Am Defender side-by-side, come in at about US$6,299 and US$10,399 respectively. 

Financing makes your off-road farm vehicle more affordable than you think, with manufacturers like Can-Am offering low interest rates and other incentives. Financing makes ownership more affordable to more people and gives you the opportunity to get the vehicle that best suits your farming needs, rather than being bound by cost. It’s also a great way to afford the accessories and add-ons that really equip your vehicle for the demands of your farm. Be sure to check out the payment estimator on the Can-Am site to get started.

 

Days off: BOTH

On days off, the ATV and side-by-side have one thing in common: in addition to having excellent abilities to help with endless amounts of farm work, they can be used for recreational purposes to have fun on the trails. The Can-Am Defender SxS and Can-Am Outlander ATV are some of the many popular vehicles for farmers looking for something that’s both a utility and recreational vehicle.

The long and short of it is that both ATVs and side-by-sides/UTVs make outstanding farm utility vehicles and will both open enormous possibilities for what you can get done. It’s just a matter of figuring out which style of vehicle matches your needs.

What are the important specs to look for in an ATV or SxS/UTV for farm use?             

If you’re deciding between an ATV or a side-by-side/UTV for your farm, then there are a few of important things to check off your list: cargo capacity, towing performance and engine reliability.

Cargo capacity

Plainly and simply, cargo capacity is how much the bed of a SxS/UTV is capable of holding. It’s an important consideration when hauling stuff like gravel, manure or other supplies around the farm, and the larger the bed, the more useful it’ll be. Farming use demands a high amount of capacity for this reason, and your vehicle needs to be able to deal with both quantity and weight. A large vehicle such as those in the Can-Am Defender range help you get the job done with a cargo capacity of 1,000 lb (454 kg), with some packages such as the Defender PRO moving up to 1,750 lb (793.8 kg), an industry-leading number.

Towing performance

Towing is a common job on a farm, and a trailer makes your ATV or SxS a highly capable puller. With HD8 and HD10 engines, Can-Am Defender side-by-sides can tow up to 2,500 lb (1,134 kg), and the Defender 6x6 boasts an industry-leading 3,000 lb (1,360 kg) towing rating. The Can-Am Outlander ATV is no slouch either, as it’s capable of hauling an impressive 1,650 lb (750 kg), another industry-leading capacity.

Engine

Farm work demands a quality engine that can take a beating. In comparison with other uses for ATVs and SxSs, farm work puts a lot of strain on a vehicle’s engine with day-in day-out hauling and towing—much more than recreational uses, naturally. Luckily, the powerful and proven Rotax engine lineup makes Can-Am’s ATVs and side-by-sides dependable companions for farmers. Hardworking Rotax HD10, HD8 and HD5 engines are the perfect mix of fun and function for the Can-Am Defender family, and class-leading Rotax V-Twin engines with 91 hp (1000R), 78 hp (850) and 62 hp (650) make Can-Am Outlander ATVs an agricultural work beast.

What are the best ATV or SxS/UTV accessories for farm use?

As we’ve seen, both ATVs and SxSs have their own advantages when it comes to farming, but it’s in the accessories where the function really takes off. Outfitting your off-road vehicle with accessories and add-ons tailored to your needs is how it transforms into a do-everything farming machine. The selection of quality off-road accessories offered by Can-Am is almost endless, so let’s take a look at which ones might be especially useful for farming.

Extra protection at the farm

The farm is a tough environment. Extra protection in the form of front and rear bumpers can get a lot of jobs done and extend the life of your vehicle. Can-Am offers special Rancher Front and Rear Bumpers for ATVs and SxSs to allow you to securely use your vehicle within cattle herds and guard the safety of both the vehicle and the animals, letting you do everything from gently prodding cattle to pushing a gate closed. A headache rack is a must since a heavy load can easily slide forward, and these racks protect the cab and occupants. An excellent example is the Deluxe Headache rack for the Defender.

 

Extra storage for big jobs

Multiple trips take time, and time means money on the farm. Plenty of storage is vital when moving large loads of gravel, feed, tools or hay. This is especially the case for an ATV, which has less space than a side-by-side vehicle. Accessory additions like the LinQ heavy-duty basket for your ATV allow you to greatly extend your cargo capacity. Storage accessories can also be very useful for a SxS/UTV to improve the bed capacity. Among other things, Can-Am offers the Bed Wall Extender for its Defender vehicles, which are foldable panels adjusted to full or half height to load the bed to the max.

A winch for tough situations

Many farmers will tell you that one of the most important accessories you can attach to your ATV or SxS is a winch. A winch is indispensable to get you out of tough situations when travelling over rough terrain or soft surfaces like mud, snow or sand. When that moment arrives and you finally get stuck, a winch will undoubtedly save the day. A winch is also great for hoisting large, heavy loads, or pulling and clearing debris. In fact, most Can-Am Outlander or Defender series vehicles come with a factory-installed winch with a 3,500 lb capacity.

Ready to work hard on the farm?

Whether your farm demands an ATV or SxS, both types of off-road vehicles will simplify many daily jobs. Whether it’s covering greater distances, accessing hard-to-reach areas, transporting feed, gear and workers, or hauling and towing big loads, you’ll find these vehicles indispensable. With an endless array of accessories to outfit your vehicle for exactly your farming needs, it’ll surely become your most trusted modern farming companion.


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