East Ayrshire Council has just taken delivery of 12 new John Deere 997 Z-Trak zero-turn mowers equipped with 60in rear discharge decks from Glasgow dealer Nairn Brown Ltd, which brings the fleet size to 20 models in all.
The council was the first in Scotland to buy the 997 mowers shortly after their launch in 2005, and was immediately impressed by their road speed, general productivity and reliability compared with previous front rotary mowers.
"We use these mowers on all the open spaces throughout the whole of East Ayrshire, but mainly in villages where our bigger tractor-mounted mowers can't go," says the council's operations manager Felix Wright. "The main reason for increasing the fleet size is that the zero-turns have considerably reduced the amount of pedestrian mowing we have to do. The 997s can be used in the same areas as the walk-behinds, but we can now get round the route that much more quickly.
"We generally replace the mowers every three years, and to date we've been very happy with them," he adds. "Because the mowers can go for a day and a half on one tank of fuel, they can be out working all day every day without having to return to the depot for refuelling, which considerably reduces downtime. This means the overall grass cutting cycle has been cut by one day, which in turn has reduced fuel consumption across the fleet.
"When we first decided to buy John Deere, their mowers come out on top on both the operators' and mechanics' evaluations, for comfort and ease of use, manoeuvrability and easy maintenance - we do all our own servicing, and the mechanics in particular find it very easy to get in and around the machine and engine."