Fortunately, the Etesia Hydro 100 Diesel has a light footprint. But that’s not all; this latest mower from the French firm is full of innovation. For starters, it’s a collector — with a 600-litre grassbox. And it’s the first tractor of its kind that can be converted from low tip to high tip and back again, meaning that if you start off with the ground-emptying BLSP and then decide you want to tip into trailers or skips, you can do. The conversion kit costs around £1,600 and takes about 30 minutes to fit once the initial workshop installation has been completed. What’s more, it really is high tip. We are talking about a massive 1.8m tipping height — handy if you want to tip into a very big trailer.
We take a look under the bonnet. It’s certainly very neat and tidy. But there’s something unusual. This is a two-stage engine compartment. There’s a filter stage and a noise suppressant stage. Air is drawn down from the rear of the engine and expelled at the front, keeping the heat away from the operator. Service instructions are detailed on the inside of the bonnet. On the outside, there is road-legal lighting: indicators, side lights, dipped and main beam.
There is a tool box, complete with jack, at the base of the seat. Tipping the seat forward and removing a cover reveals the battery, fuel tank and hydraulic tank. It’s all very accessible but there are two things we especially like. The fuel tank is removable so it can be cleaned, and the hydraulic tank can only be filled with oil via a pump. That means a greatly reduced risk of contamination.
The deck is also new. It is twin bladed and is domed, so we figure that Etesia is considering introducing a mulching kit in the future. That could be useful. But what we want to know is if this machine can cut, collect and empty the long, dense, wet grass on site today.
Our tester is quickly in the seat and taking the machine for a first run down the side of the glasshouse. It is certainly cutting very well. The huge tunnel and short distance from blade tip to box ensures there is no clogging. But there is so much grass, the collector soon needs emptying. Drawing up alongside the trailer, the tester raises the collector to its full height and deposits the clippings. As the box lifts, a Perspex guard moves into position to ensure clippings cannot fall on the operator. “That’s a very simple, yet extremely effective, device,” says the tester. And he’s off again on another run — at speeds up to 12km/h.
This machine will even cut and collect in reverse, and it’s quiet — fully compliant with EC noise regulations. A guaranteed low 85 dB(A) rating is recorded from the driving position.
After successful mowing, we inspect the lawn. It’s neat and is striped, thanks to a rubber dragmat at the rear of the machine. We inspect the clippings. They are long and cleanly cut. And how was the drive?
“It’s very light on the steering, manoeuvrable and easy to use. I didn’t have much instruction but I automatically knew where everything would be. It feels really safe and I didn’t feel any vibration, although it has got plenty of power. The pick up is great, too. You can see the grass down the sides being sucked under. It covers the ground quickly and cuts well. I like it,” says the tester.
Future developments will see the versatility of the Hydro 100 increase. Already, Etesia is making a dragmat for striping, spreader for grit or sand, a two bar, out-front sweeper and gutter brush, scarifier and snowplough kit.
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