Q: What are the benefits of tractor-mounted and trailed mowing equipment?
A: Grass cutting is the most frequent of grounds maintenance operations and demands efficiency. Tractor-mounted and trailed mowing equipment is the ideal choice where the area of grass is extensive and where it is important to attain a low mowing cost per square metre per year.
Q: What are the buying considerations?
A: Since more time is likely to be spent grass cutting than performing any other grounds maintenance task, it is essential to use the most appropriate equipment.
The right selection of equipment will depend on factors such as site access and topography, frequency of cut, required work rates and the standard of finish demanded. The mower also needs to be matched to the size, weight and power of available tractors.
In addition, running costs, reliability and versatility should be investigated. Some mowers, notably the flail/collector type, can also perform tasks such as scarifying and leaf collection.
Q: Are floating or fixed heads best?
A: Level ground presents few problems for mowing. Choose mowing equipment with floating heads or articulating units to minimise scalping in areas where the ground is undulating.
Q: Which mower type gives the best quality of finish and at what cost?
A: The cylinder is usually chosen where a high-quality finish is paramount but it could be the most expensive to purchase. The trailed cylinder, driven by land wheels, will be the least expensive option in the cylinder range; but it is important to realise cylinder mowers have higher associated maintenance costs, largely because of the length of blade metal that needs to be kept sharp.
Recent developments in cutting technology mean that many rotary and flail mowers also give better cuts. Rotaries with full-width rollers will give good striping for a manicured finish. Improvements to flail mowers have resulted in a quality of cut suitable for playing fields.
Q: What new models are available?
A: To follow the contours on golf courses and other grassed areas, two new versions of the Articulator are available from Lastec (tel: 01622 812103) as out-front, PTO-driven mowers. The 721XF gives 3.35m of cutting with the accuracy of seven 53cm push mowers. The 521EH delivers more than 2.44m of cutting width, using five 53cm fully articulating rotary decks. Both models can be mounted onto a variety of manufacturers' traction units.
Designed for sports grounds, playing fields and reclamation work, Bantam rotary mowers from AJ & R Scambler (tel: 01954 718484) should appeal to local authorities and institutions. The range comprises four British-built models with cutting widths from 1.1m to 1.8m for use in-line or offset with tractors from 40hp.
Also new from Scambler are four finishing mowers built by Muratori in Italy. These are three-point-linkage-mounting, three-spindle and five-spindle heavy-duty finishing mowers with widths from 1.2m to 2.35m for use with tractors of 40hp or more. Cutting height is adjusted from 100mm down to 20mm by spacers and side or rear discharge devices can be bolted on as desired. Options include front linkage and mulching kits.
A front-mounted model, the 8400 Rollermower from Major Equipment (tel: 01524 850501) has a computer-aided designed system that provides maximum floatation and a four-point pivot system to provide constant contact with undulating ground on sports grounds, golf courses and municipal areas. Cutting widths are from 2m to 6.7m.
Amazone (tel: 01302 751200) has added a larger version to its Groundkeeper range of flail/scarifier/collector units. The GH180 is aimed at amenity facilities requiring productivity and uses the chassis from the Jumbo model to give a working width of 2.1m. It features a hydraulically operated ground-level discharge hopper with 2,100-litre capacity, plus supporting roller with scraper bar and stepless cutting height adjustment.
Targeted at contractors wanting to take on a variety of work, the TSS synthesis can be used as a flail mower with or without grass collection, a scarifier and a sweeper collector. Available in the UK from Ruston's Engineering Co (tel: 01480 455151) of Huntingdon, the Synthesis is offered as a 1.25m machine with 1cu m hopper or a 1.5m version with 1.5cu m hopper.
Trimax (tel: 01933 652235) now has a Series 3 version of the ProCut. It retains many aspects of the original but has remote greasing systems that allow these units to be maintained without lifting the stainless steel covers. Combined with a body profile that sweeps up over the rear roller, this improved under-body clearance is intended to allow clippings a more open discharge path, thus helping to lower the horsepower requirement and producing a more even spread of clippings in heavy conditions.