We have a lot of undulating grass to cut at a low height and currently use two triple-decked rotary ride-on mowers but it means a lot of care is needed as it is easy to cause scalping and leave some grass too long. It is also taking a long time to carry out each cut. We have a compact tractor and have thought about articulating mowers, but they seem to be quite pricey. Would it be worth the investment?

 It is definitely worth booking a demonstration to see how an articulating mower would work on your site.

We have tested Lastec's flagship Articulator 721XR rotary gang and thought it probably the most capable wide-area mower for mounds and ridges. It's a real contour hugger.

The 721XR is a masterpiece of engineering and a thrill to watch in action. Instead of a single deck with multiple blades, this mower has multiple decks, each with a single blade. It delivers the cutting performance of seven individual rotary mowers in one neat, 3.5m-wide package, so it gets the job done quickly.

Since each deck can follow the ground independently of its neighbours, and with each having up to 24 degs of articulation, this kit has slinky mobility with no scalping and no missed bits. What's more, there is a choice of blades - standard, high-lift and mulch.

Three hydraulic cylinders lift the decks for transport. The decks are driven by belts, rather than power-guzzling hydraulic drives, so you use a lightweight compact tractor with a minimum of 35hp at the PTO.

Perhaps belts are the only drawback. A lot of people dislike them, but for this machine the result is a remarkably lightweight (563kg), wide-area mower with power to spare. In addition, the belts are incredibly easy to get at if you need to replace one. The mower gives an immaculate cut to the densest of swards - you really do have to see the results for yourself. And it gives a fantastic performance at 13km/h. That adds up to 4.3ha/h. Time is saved when turning or mowing round obstacles because this unit is so manoeuvrable.

I also have news of the latest development from Lastec. The Articulator 3300 is a ride-on model and is a fully articulating five-deck rotary with zero turn and a 2.4m cut. It takes its power from a 33hp Kubota diesel engine - so your tractor would be free for other duties. What excites me about this model is the fact that the outer decks can be folded at the flick of a switch to reduce transport width to a mere 198cm (78') and bring the flexibility of a nimble trim mower to the grass-cutting industry.

Cutting height of the new 3300 is adjustable from 31mm (1.25') to 115mm (4.5'). It has side discharge plus mulching capability and is intended for grassland areas with difficult trimming demands and multiple height requirements. It also boasts a 600mm side reach, allowing close trimming around trees, near ponds, ditches and other obstacles.

You will have to check the latest prices with Lastec but the 3300 is expected to have a similar price to many rigid deck mowers.

In addition, Lastec offers a tractor-mounted out-front version. Originally called the 521, this model has been the subject of recent development work and is now called the 100 series.

For further information, contact Lastec on 01622 812103.

- Sally Drury has reported for HW and its forerunner GC&HTJ for 25 years, and has spent more than five years testing machinery for HW and What Kit? The advice in this helpline is independent.


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