A row-crop tractor is tailored specifically to the growing of crops grown in rows, as in truck farming, and most especially to cultivating. Cultivating can take place anytime from soon after the crop plants have sprouted until soon before they are harvested. Several rounds of cultivating may be done over the season. A row-crop tractor essentially brings together a farm tractor and its cultivator into one machine, in the same way motive power has been combined into other machinery.
The earliest win from introducing tractors to mechanize agriculture was in reducing the heavy efforts of plowing and harrowing before planting, which could often be (almost literally) backbreaking tasks for humans and draft animals. Early tractors were used mainly to alleviate this drudgery, but they tended to be very big and heavy, so were not well-suited to getting into a field of already-planted row crops to do weed control. Row-crop tractors—light, affordable, and reliable—corrected this flaw.