A newly constructed school situated on steep slopes needed a mower that could cope with the ups and downs of grounds maintenance more than most.
St Ninian's Lower School in Onchan, on the Isle of Man, moved to its new £37 million site in September 2012. Built on a field with a natural fall of 17 metres from top to bottom, sports facilities such as tennis courts and football pitches had to be carved out of the landscape to form flat tiers. But this created steep banks in between each tier, posing a problem for the grounds maintenance team.
Alan Harrison is groundstaff foreman for the government division responsible for maintenance of the island's educational estates. He realised that the tractor-towed and pedestrian mowers his team usually use to cut school sites wouldn't be suited to the unique demands of St Ninian's.
"Mowing the school's steep banks is quite a challenge," he comments. "Every time there's a tier, there's a bank for us to cut - in total, we have 200 metres of banks, which reach 30 metres in height. Tractor-towed mowers are only capable of cutting slopes of up to 12 degrees and using hand mowers was impractical as it would have taken eight hours to cut all the banks each time."
Alan consulted with Toro distributor Lely and machinery dealer Isle of Man Farmers. Using a Toro Angle Indicator, they confirmed that the bank had a slope of 22 degrees and recommended the Groundsmaster 3500-D, which has been certified to work at angles of up to 25 degrees. Site tests with competitor mowers proved that the Toro machine was the only one up to the task.
"The Groundsmaster was bought especially for the new school because of its ability to cut at 25 degrees," Alan concludes. "It's an amazing piece of kit and the operators think it's brilliant, too. It now takes us just half an hour to safely and easily mow the banks, so it's saving us a lot of man hours. We've very pleased."
For more information visit www.toro.com. Alternatively, call distributor Lely UK on 01480 226800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.