If you want a walk-behind scarifier that offers value for money, this should be on your shortlist. With handlebars that fold to make the unit easy to transport, it is ideal for professional gardeners, landscape contractors and sports clubs and will only set you back £770 ex VAT.

At 50cm the AG50 is just the right width for a commercial pedestrian scarifier. It's a confident, soundly-constructed machine for life in the commercial world. At its heart are free-swinging, hardened steel blades that rotate on large bearing mountings under the reinforced steel deck. There's plenty of oomph from the Honda engine to power the blades through stubborn thatch and soils.

We set the blades to cut deep. The AG50 does not mind one bit. It aggressively rips through the thatch, throwing out far more material than we expect. The depth of work causes some vibration but it's not bad and is reduced when working at shallower settings.

What we like best is the simplicity of this machine. It would be fine in the hands of volunteers tending a community sports venue. The AG50 is easy to set - simply wind the block to lift or lower the blades. It's got memory so the same depth can be resumed after repositioning the machine. To start it is just a case of switching the petrol on - the choke is on top of the carburettor, there is an on/off on the handlebars, then pull the starter. There are only two levers to operate. One is the throttle control, the other is the blade engagement, which is very positive - it is either in or out.

"It's a nice simple machine to use and is easy for the operator to adjust. Maintenance shouldn't be an issue - it's all self explanatory," notes Pinion. "The wide wheels help make the machine easy to manoeuvre and the heavy reel certainly helps pull the machine along. It's great value for money."

Working width: 50cm
Engine: Honda GX160 5.5hp
Reel: Floating flail-blades
Cutting depth: Adjustable with memory
Deck: Steel
Wheels: Metal with bearings
Dimensions: 120 x 82 x 102cm
Weight: 65kg
List price (ex VAT): £770
Contact: Emak UK on 01543 687660


Etesia 124DN

Efco AG50 H60

Imants Rotoknife

Husqvarna DT22

Verti-Drain 7621


- Robert Pinion, groundsman, College of West Anglia, Milton Campus, Cambridge

- Alan Mitch, machinery workshop technician, College of West Anglia, Milton Campus, Cambridge

- Tim Jellis, head groundsman, College of West Anglia, Milton Campus, Cambridge

- Mark Ekin, programme area manager (horticulture, agriculture and countryside), College of West Anglia, Milton Campus, Cambridge

- Dave Roberts, grounds manager, Charterhouse School, Surrey

The tramp of feet and the weight of maintenance equipment is enough to cause compaction in most soils. With the air squeezed out and water unable to penetrate, the roots suffer first and then the effect is seen above ground.

Aeration and scarification are essential. We look at two aerators - the Rotoknife at Charterhouse School in Surrey and the Verti-Drain 7621 in a waterlogged part of Milton Campus near Cambridge.

At Milton, we also try out two pedestrian scarifiers and a unit that mounts to an Etesia ride-on mower. How will they cope when ground conditions are wet and sticky?


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