Mowers Special Report: ride-on and towed mower units improved

Zero-turns are in demand and other ride-on and towed mowers have also upped their game, Sally Drury reports.

Swift: Major Equipment’s roller mower was trialled at Cirencester Park Polo Club - image: © Gary Naylor Photography
Swift: Major Equipment’s roller mower was trialled at Cirencester Park Polo Club - image: © Gary Naylor Photography

For speed and agility, few mowers can out-pace the zero-turn. Reporting exceptional growth in demand for zero-turn mowers in the UK and Europe, Ariens is now building its machines in a factory at Great Haseley in Oxfordshire. It is believed these are the first zero-turns to be manufactured in Europe.

According to industry analysis, zero-turn sales in Europe have grown more than 30% over the past four years, making them the fastest-growing category of ride-on mowers and third-fastest in the lawn and garden power equipment sector.

“Sales of zero-turns in Europe have experienced exceptional growth over the last few years,” says Ariens vice-president Darren Spencer. “Ariens Co has experienced this growth in numerous markets and, based on extensive research with our distribution partners, we expect the growth to continue.

“This industry analysis points to the many opportunities to be met by producing zero-turns at our Great Haseley plant. We currently sell into 10 countries within Europe and aim to increase our European footprint in 2020. Future growth will accelerate as the benefits of zero-turn mowers are understood by customers. Zero-turn users are experiencing increased speed of cut and greater versatility over tractors and out-fronts.”

Following investment in a new production line, fixtures and tooling, the Great Haseley factory is manufacturing Ariens CE zero-turns for European markets only and the Ikon, Apex and Zenith models, the latter being introduced at Saltex in Birmingham last October.

Zenith mower is designed for all-day professional use every day - image: Ariens

All new, the Ariens Zenith 60 (above) is designed for professionals looking for all-day, everyday use. It offers a 60in (152cm) deck and a faster ground speed of up to 8.5mph (13.6km/h). Power comes from a 726cc Kawasaki FX730 V-Twin engine. Other features include a constant belt tension system to minimise wear and heat, and large tyres for traction and ride quality. The steel frame supports a folding rollover protection structure.

Larger areas

More zero-turns have been added to the Cub Cadet stable, distributed in the UK by EP Barrus. Designed specifically for mowing larger areas of grass, the Ultima mowers are suited to both expert domestic and professional gardener use. They incorporate lap bar-controlled dual hydrostatic transmission technology, believed to be one of the most sophisticated on the market.

The Ultima units combine the latest steering lever technology with robust construction, heavy-duty components and powerful engines. Barrus marketing manager Ian Seagar says: “Powered by Cub Cadet and Kawasaki engines, these machines can reach up to 12km/h and cut up to 50% faster than conventional mowers. They have square, lightweight, tubular steel frames and are incredibly strong and durable — and they have the largest premium tyres in their class.”

The hinged, removable floorpan allows easy and quick access to the cutting deck and engine for maintenance. Major investment has also been made to ensure low vibration and maximum fatigue-free operation, with high-back adjustable seats and armrests. The mowers cut in both forward and reverse.

The smallest in the Ultima series is the 42in (107cm) XZ5 L107 for mowing areas up to 10,000sq m and has an RRP of £4,499. Aimed at professionals, the 50in (127cm) XZ5 L127 and 54in (137cm) XZ5 L137 cut 11,500sq m and 12,500sq m respectively and carry RRP tags of £4,999 and £5,799.

Released this year, the Hydro 80 MKHP5 ride-on mower from Etesia UK benefits from a differential lock and boasts the capability to cut and collect in all conditions. Joining the established and popular Hydro 80 range, it offers extra traction and stability on difficult, uneven and undulating terrain by reducing wheelspin, which means less surface damage and better presentation. A mulching insert is provided in the standard specification.

With an 80cm cutting width and 240-litre collecting box, the new Hydro is powered by a Kawasaki FS481H 16hp (11.7kW) engine for raw power and cutting performance. Other features include hydrostatic transmission and electromagnetic blade clutch with built-in brake. Cutting height, from 44mm to 122mm, and emptying of the grass collector can be adjusted or carried out from the driving seat.

“The Hydro 80 MKHP5 cuts and collects both long and short grass — without clogging,” Etesia UK managing director Les Malin points out. “Add to that its compact dimensions, measuring just 1.98m by 0.9m wide, means it is easily transported in a van or trailer. It can pass through most gateways and its tight turning circle makes it ideal for small or awkward areas. It mows close to walls and fences and is highly manoeuvrable and efficient, offering the kind of output that would easily replace three walk-behind mowers.”

Popular in the commercial market and well-known for its high work rate, slope stability and manoeuvrability, the Ransomes Jacobsen Highway 3 triple-cylinder mower has been revised. Increasing the already impressive output, the Highway has a new drivetrain and is now fitted with a Euro Stage V compliant engine.

“Triplex cylinder mowers are still one of the most flexible and productive vehicles used to cut grass,” says Ransomes Jacobsen director of international product development Richard Comely. “The Highway 3 is typically used on large areas for extended periods, so productivity is an important aspect. It was a case of improving something that was already performing very well, but the new drivetrain has made a difference and we’re very pleased with the outcome.”

Focusing on durability, longevity and reducing downtime, Reesink Turfcare has two additions to its Toro Groundsmaster 3000 range of out-front rotaries. Models GM3200 and GM3300 have 24.7hp and 37.4hp engines respectively and a choice of 60in (152cm) or 72in (183cm) rotary rear and side or
rear-only discharge decks with 4.5mm high-strength steel, rugged spindles, a bull-nose bumper and reinforced skids. There is also a flail deck option.

A transport speed of 22km/h makes quick work of site-to-site travel and a 45.4-litre fuel tank maximises mowing time between breaks for refuelling.

Fairway mowing

For golf, John Deere has two additions to its economical 6000A Series. The 6080A and 6500A E-Cut hybrid electric fairway mowers are equipped with 24.7hp diesel engines and promise a high-performance electric reel drive that greatly reduces the number of potential hydraulic leak points. The mowers can operate at lower engine speeds to reduce fuel consumption and running costs. Cutting widths are 2m and 2.5m respectively and both carry e-Hydro transmission and LoadMatch as standard. Mowing speed is 8mph.

Where wider cuts are needed and a tractor or tow unit is available, the trailed mower remains a first choice for many. Launched in 2019, and although developed for golf course fairway and rough maintenance, the Trimax Snake S2 is ideal for sports fields and large open spaces. It features a highly manoeuvrable and floating deck design that handles undulating turf without scalping.

Recognising that greasing, cleaning, servicing, washing and adjustments all eat into active mowing time, Trimax aims to minimise or eliminate downtime wherever possible.

With this in mind, its added features on the S2 include a wider 4m width, LocTEK roller retention system as standard, thicker roller tubes to cut close to curbs and paving and over undulating terrain and potholes without blade strike or scalping, auto belt tensioning, maintenance-free pivot bushes, upgraded gearbox-mounting plates, increased clearance to help power take-off (PTO) fitting and removal and to increase access for servicing, new axle stubs, a 90° rotatable jack stand and anti-wear skids.

Of the LocTEK system, Trimax owner and founder Bob Sievwright says: “Servicing a roller mower with a stub can be complicated. Stubs need to be clean, adhesives need to be used, a given sequence of replacements needs to be followed and if not maintained regularly or correctly we see worn stubs and compromised retention. Our LocTEK system eliminates all that. It’s foolproof.”

For 2020, Major Equipment has introduced the 7.3m Swift trailed roller mower after trialling it at Cirencester Park Polo Club. Cotswold Turf Care contract groundsman Phil Cole used the Swift and reports: “It is a great performer and always leaves an excellent finish. The front and rear rollers ensure we leave a level and striped finish at precisely the right height of cut, every time. It levels the ground back down to its original condition after we’ve had eight or 10 horses over the park.”

The Swift is made of Strenx steel. Belts have been replaced by a heavy-duty driveline with a shearbolt on the PTO drive. Cole concludes: “For a big machine, it’s very manoeuvrable. It is also a very low consumer of power, therefore more economical with fuel, and the blades do a great job chopping the clippings and spreading them.” 

Image: SCH Supplies

Tackling meadows and fields: FM48 towed, long-grass cutter

SCH (Supplies) knows that managing fields and meadows can be difficult once grass growth hits a certain height and nettles and brambles move in. The company suggests the FM48 towed, long-grass cutter (pictured above) is a solution.

With a working width of 48in (1.22m) and powered by a 13hp Honda engine with electric start, the RM48 has 42 cutting flails driven by two V belts. As of 2020, the transport wheels are situated at the rear of the machine rather than at the side, so the mower now cuts closer to the edge and can squeeze through narrow entrances.

Mounted at the rear of the cutter is a one-piece roller, adjustable to fine-tune the cutting height and eliminate scalping. A screw jack raises or lowers the transport wheels, allowing travel to and from storage on pneumatic wheels and then dropping the mower onto its steel roller for work.

The centrally mounted tow bar can be offset if it is undesirable for the towing vehicle to run over the vegetation prior to cutting. Machine weight is 245kg.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read This Next

Horticulture Salary Survey: what do the past year’s job adverts tell us?

Horticulture Salary Survey: what do the past year’s job adverts tell us?

Horticulture has typically been seen as a low-paid job, but evidence from analysis of Horticulture Week job advertisements from across the industry portrays a different picture, Matthew Appleby reports.

Lawn care expert David Hedges Gower on weedkillers

Lawn care expert David Hedges Gower on weedkillers

Mowers Special Report: mitigating operator risk on slopes and embankments

Mowers Special Report: mitigating operator risk on slopes and embankments

Cutting the grass on slopes can be a safer job with these new mowers, Sally Drury writes.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +

Products & Kit Resources

Promoted content

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs


Build your business with the latest public sector tenders covering landscape, arboriculture, grounds care, production and kit supplies. To receive the latest tenders weekly to your inbox sign up for our Tenders Tracker bulletin here.