With massive budget cuts being made by local authorities and councils to address fiscal deficits, one area that has come under the glaring spotlight of the accounts department is groundcare. Unfortunately for the beleaguered accountant trying to save money wherever possible, the grass keeps growing and just can't be stopped - and parks and green spaces are seen as ever more critical by an increasingly ecologically-minded public.
The outfront flail mower has long been part of the armoury of groundcare contractors and councils; with its highly manoeuvrable power unit, excellent verge-cutting ability and relatively low cost, the outfront flail mower easily earns its place in the machinery line-up. However, these machines have tended to be seen by users as a coarse cut mower, and certainly not something you'd use on parks or fine turf. That's a view that may be consigned to the park bench from now on, according to Steve James of Broadwood International.
"With councils and authorities increasingly reducing budgets for groundcare duties, the flail mower's chance to shine has finally come," says Mr James. "Instead of the usual fortnightly or three-weekly cut, many councils are considering reducing this to four or five weeks between cuts. What this will mean is that the grass will be that much longer at cut time, and therefore the mower used needs to be able to cope with that longer sward." Many councils and contractors currently using cylinder mowers will suddenly find that these machines are simply inadequate for the task, with most cylinders only cutting grass of a maximum height of around 3 inches.
"Where an outfront flail really scores is its raw grass-cutting ability," says Steve James. "These machines will cut the rough just as well as the fine turf, so longer swards are no problem to a flail. Some users will try to combat longer swards by using a rotary, and while these mowers will handle longer grass than cylinders, they leave a terrible mess with cut grass balled up and left in unsightly clumps; whereas a flail doesn't just cut the grass, it also mulches and shreds the cut grass leaving it evenly distributed across the width of the mower, and the finished effect is so much neater than with a rotary." Sceptics of the ability of the outfront flail to produce a fine finished cut include the manager of a prestigious public park near London who was initially wary of the effect an outfront flail would produce on his turf. After reassurances from Broadwood's demonstrator, the parks manager was pleasantly surprised to see the finished result from the demonstration unit.
Additionally, the outfront flail is an extremely low cost item to purchase and maintain in comparison to a cylinder mower, making it an even more attractive opposition to local authorities and contractors looking to reduce costs; at time of going to press, a Wessex ProLine TGX-150 flail mower has a retail price of £4290 plus VAT, with replacement flails costing just £5.69 each plus VAT. These aerodynamic blades are designed to slice through the air efficiently meaning fuel consumption is kept to a minimum, while ensuring a premium finish on all types of grass.
"In times of economic instability it's the flexible and willing-to-change who survive," states Mr James. "Do what you've always done and change will overtake you; and that's why our sales of outfront flail mowers are on a steady rise."
The Wessex ProLine TGX-150 mower is available to fit all popular makes of outfront power unit in PTO-driven and (exclusively for the Ransomes HR3300T) hydraulic-powered formats. Dealers nationwide can provide demonstrations of these superb machines, or contact Broadwood International for more information on 01420 478111 / www.broadwoodintl.co.uk
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