MJ71-600T Swift | Westpoint Centre Exeter

At Westpoint, the Devon County Showground, near Exeter, Devon the show-ground facility is holding an event or show virtually every weekend and often during the week.

The site is based on 160 acres, of which 150 acres are grassland, used for outdoor events and car parking. The Devon County Show alone attracts in excess of 90,000 visitors every year and so that places a big challenge on the organisers and maintenance team.

Ray Bater has been show-ground manager for the past ten years and with his team of three, says, “We are often non-stop when it comes to ground-care and maintenance, so much so that even with four of us, we can be pushed to the limits in getting everything ready for the next event. However, a recent acquisition of a high-performance mower has enabled us to reduce our mowing times by more than a half and that has given us a lot more breathing space and considerably reduced our operating costs!”

On average, the grass-cutting cycle happens once a week and covers 150 acres, but there are times when the weather is warm and there’s been plenty of rain, the grass growth can mean cutting is required more frequently so a high-output mower is an essential part of the armoury. Previously, the team used a small 8ft topper which would seemingly take forever, but now with a 6m wide trailed rotary topper, they can cover the entire grounds and car parks in just two days or less.

“We used to call in local contractors when we couldn’t manage with our previous system,” added Ray, “but the contractor sold one of his mowers and we couldn’t always guarantee getting the grounds ready in time – plus there was always an extra cost. Our local machinery dealer Devon Garden Machinery, who we use for a lot of our servicing and parts support, recommended we tried a Major MJ71-600T, which is a trailed rotary mower with folding wings, which means it can be driven safely down the road or, stored in a small space in our machinery shed, when not in use. We took it on a demonstration and we were sold on it immediately. This was the right machine for us. It was fast, very efficient and was easy to drive – it’s behind our one-hundred horse-power (100hp) Massey Ferguson tractor, which handles it very well. But above all, it left a very professional finish.”

Being a six-metre cutting width and having front and rear-rollers, the Major 600T, can cover the ground quickly, regardless of grass type and can be adjusted simply for height of cut and degree of mulching. Another big plus is that is driven through a direct gearbox and doesn’t use a belt drive, which further enhances durability and serviceability.

“Because of the front and rear rollers,” added Ray, “we can cover undulating ground and different surfaces very easily and it minimises scalping, leaving a perfect striped finish every time. In fact, if we have the time, we can often cross-cut the grounds, which means we have a very attractive chequer-board finish – it can be very appealing for our visitors. I think it also reflects the pride we place in our work.”

The Major MJ71-600T is a six metre machine but also comes in a choice of cutting widths. It’s built using high quality materials such as Strenx™ 700 high-strength steel which is stronger, yet much lighter than steel used in ordinary mowers. Likewise it has a fully galvanised finish, which means it resists rusting of components and enhances the durability and reliability of the machine, so extending working life and giving a much greater return on the investment.

“When you look how well constructed the Major mower is,” enthused Ray, “you can tell that this is going to last us a very long time and with minimal maintenance. It’s just what we need, we don’t have that much time to waste on machinery that takes a lot of time to keep in tip-top condition and performing to the level we need.

“This is an ideal machine for contractors, large outdoor facilities, parkland, sports grounds such as universities, golf courses, football pitches and so much more. It easily handles a wide variety of grass types – from rough to the very finest of turf, just by a simple change in settings. It is such a multi-purpose machine that doesn’t require a large tractor to power it and leaves an impressive striped finish where the residue is mulched so finely that it disappears quickly into the stubble. It’s a really great bit of kit and I thoroughly recommend it.”