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A backhoe- the ideal machine for digging footings

Foundations are the most important part of any build. The design of the foundation footings will depend on the type of ground you’re building on as well as your local building regulations. The majority of footings are, however, at least 12ins wide by 12 ins deep with a minimum three bars of steel reinforcing.

Realistically, there are three ways to dig the footings: sweat and tears, hiring a builder or buying a backhoe. As the majority of smallholders own a compact tractor, the majority opt for the latter option and invest in a backhoe, a hydraulically operated machine that fits onto the back of your tractor.

Buying a backhoe

Firstly, the backhoe should have interchangeable buckets to allow different jobs to be completed on the smallholding. The most important bucket type for footings is a trenching bucket, a narrow bucket ideally suited to digging. The narrow edge and teeth allow the backhoe to effortlessly pierce the ground’s surface and penetrate the soil beneath, enabling you to dig the depth and width required efficiently.

Secondly, a backhoe that fits onto your three-point linkage rather than complicated bracketry is going to save you time and effort in the long run. Though digging footings is your priority, you’re still going to want to hitch the mower up and

top the land during the build. A three-point link backhoe allows for quicker implement attach/detach.

Rather than attaching at the end of the arms, the backhoe attaches at the arm source. In addition to a three-point hitch, independent backhoe hydraulics is also a must. This means it has it’s own PTO-powered hydraulic pump. Not feeding off the tractor’s

hydraulics, performance is improved.

Finally, any tool on the smallholding is only as good as the servicing and

maintenance invested in it. When buying a backhoe make sure the filter, pump

and hydraulic fluid tank are all easily accessible. Functionality wise you’re going to want a backhoe that is more than up for the job in hand. The best backhoes on the market for compact tractors have a 180 degree arm swing and have digging capabilities of over 6ft. Digging capabilities are particularly important as they are directly proportionate to arm size, which affects the backhoe reach.

The price

If you’re planning on erecting a building then buying a backhoe has never been more affordable. The latest B94 and B95 models are suited to compact tractors and are priced at £2,700+ VAT and £3,400+ VAT respectively.

Required Horsepower 20-40HP 40-60HP

Once the footings are complete you’re left with a great bit of kit for future excavation work.

MORE: Contact Siromer on 01253 799 029 or visit

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