Efco MZ2090R

Designed for market gardens, ornamental gardens and smallholdings, the Efco MZ2090R is a tough but nimble tiller, with a useful 80cm working width, that could find work with landscapers and professional gardeners. But like all equipment, it should be used in the right conditions.

The Efco MZ2090R is powered by a Honda GC160 5hp engine and has one forward gear and one reverse. Lifting the tiller from the back of a van is really a two-person job but, once it is on the ground, its front transport wheels make it a doddle to push it to the work area. Lateral transport wheels would make travel even easier but are only available as an optional extra.

The MZ2090R is of typical "tiller" design - the rotor element bearing three sets of tines on either side of the drive. The tines and rotor are protected by discs on the outside. In fact, this model brims with good engineering and solid construction. The chain transmission has a reinforced guard to protect it from the impact of projected stones and accidental bumps.

Operation of a rotary tiller is something you either love or hate. It can be a battle to hold some tillers in position while they cultivate down to the required depth. Our testers, however, find the MZ2090R is trying to bury itself on more than one occasion.

Using and controlling the MZ2090R is aided by the adjustable handlebars. These adjust up and down as well as sideways - all at the turn of a lever - to ensure an optimum working position can be attained for any given terrain and condition.

Controls are always only a fingertip's reach away and are very simple to use. The MZ2090R has a safety clutch that stops the machine in the event of loss of control but it is also useful when transporting the machine or if you wish to suspend the work temporarily without stopping the engine. Standard equipment includes a drag bar - making it possible to adjust tilling depth and working speed. In use we also find the reverse gear is a must-have feature for manoeuvring the machine and repositioning it for work.

With so many good features, we are disappointed not to be able to use this tiller for longer. However, we have no control over the weather and, with torrential rain during the previous 24 hours, the soil is saturated. It is not long before the rotor is turning a giant roll of mud.

We hope to review the Efco again under more suitable conditions.

The review panel

Rob Pinion, grounds person, College of West Anglia, Wisbech

Barbara Welbourn, assistant grounds person, College of West Anglia, Wisbech.

Carrying out a test of cultivation equipment in December was always likely to be plagued by the vagaries of the British weather. That is why we chose to test the equipment in the eastern part of the country. But even at Wisbech the rain can be torrential - so much so that the normally free-draining soil became saturated.

Although the conditions for testing could hardly be further from ideal, we were able to look at six items of cultivation equipment. In the pedestrian section we chose the Husqvarna CRT51 as an example of a wheeled rotary cultivator. It turned out to be a surprise when it came to coping with sticky, waterlogged soil.

The Husqvarna T200 compact and Mantis tiller were selected as examples of small, narrow-width rotary tillers, while the Efco MZ2090R is a full-width tiller. Finally, we looked at two machines from BLEC. The BLEC/Harley power box rake is a tractor-mounted, PTO-driven unit for preparing seedbeds and the BLEC SR3H pedestrian rotor rake is a walk-behind unit for use with Honda power tillers.

The rains eased for the duration of the tests but the soil remained saturated throughout this time. The wind was a cold easterly.

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