Steer a tractor using the brakes by applying the independent brake on the side of the turn. Many older tractors were equipped with independent brakes in the time prior to manufacturers adding power steering to the machines. Brake steering provides sharper turns with less effort than turning a manual steering wheel.
On these tractors, applying one of the brakes turns the unit, but applying both brakes stops it. Most have a small lever that the operator flips to join the two brakes together. The operator should always engage this lever before driving the tractor on a roadway at higher speeds than he normally operates at in the field. At higher speeds, accidentally pressing one of the separate brakes when needing to make a sudden stop causes the tractor to spin and increases the chances of a rollover accident. Manufacturers also recommend locking the brakes together when working on hillsides.
Brake-steering offers easier turning of the machine for several reasons. It uses the power of hydraulics to apply the brake to the wheel. However, it also uses the power of the tractor engine to continue to operate the opposite drive wheel. Farmers using the brakes to steer the machine can make much tighter turns than those who depend on the steering wheel alone.