Mowing with Major in Ede and Wageningen
Sportservice Ede adds a second Major rotary mower system to its fleet.
Sports fields are mowed with a cylinder mower. That was the view of Jaap Dirksen, outdoor sports operator at Sportservice Ede, for many years. When he saw a Major rotary mower in action, he decided to deviate from his principle. And with success: Sportservice Ede now has two Major rotary mowers in use for mowing all fields in Ede and Wageningen in the Netherlands.
Sportservice Ede, the sports company of Ede Council in the Netherlands, is responsible for the maintenance of more than 30 pitches in the municipality. Jaap Dirksen has now been working at the company for four and a half years, having previously managed the sports fields in the neighbouring municipality of Wageningen for seventeen years. When Dirksen started in Ede, reel mowers were still mowing. ‘My idea has always been: you should mow sports fields with a reel mower, not with a rotary mower,’ says Dirksen. However, he discovered in his first two years that the reel mower wasn’t always a godsend. ‘The fields in Ede are quite a bit apart so you are limited with a reel mower. It takes a lot of time to drive it back and forth. We thought about buying a unit with a trailer for transport, but it would then be idle all day in between and that would require an extra investment.
No more sceptics
Due to the problem with transport, Dirksen decided to look at other options. At a trade fair he met rotary mower manufacturer Major, but he was still not convinced. A visit to the municipality of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, where a Major mower was working, was the deciding factor. ‘We saw a very nice mowing pattern there. That made us think. With us, the furthest fields are about 17km apart. With a tractor for the rotary mower you can quickly cover that. And a tractor can also be used to roll, drag and shred – all pluses. As a result of that visit, we purchased a Major front and rear mower, along with a Fendt 208. ‘ This combination has been running in Ede for almost three years now, to the satisfaction of the clubs, says Dirksen. ‘We had expected some comment from the associations, because volunteers there are passionate about the fields every day. But they were equally as satisfied as we were.’
Even cutting pattern
The Major system that Sportservice Ede purchased combines a 2.40 meter wide front cutting deck and a three-part rear deck with a total width of 4 meters. According to Dirksen, one of the advantages of a rotary mower is that the machine can be adjusted more evenly than a reel mower. ‘With a cylinder mower, the reels always change somewhat. There are more bolts to adjust and with five reels you will see a difference in the cutting pattern. We sometimes received complaints about this in the past, ‘says Dirksen. ‘They are no complaints now. The Major is easier to adjust. This gives you a much smoother cutting pattern across the full width of the machine. ‘
According to Dirksen it is a big advantage to have two cutting decks. He explains: ‘The biggest advantage of the combination of front and rear mower is the continuity. If you have a breakdown, you can remove it and continue mowing. If you have a serious problem with a reel mower, the whole machine will immediately come to a standstill. ‘ The rear deck is one of the few disadvantages of the machine for Dirksen. The cutting quality is great, but the deck consists of three parts and cannot be folded per part. ‘You can have a small angle, but a larger angle would break the PTO,’ says Dirksen.
‘The Major mower is at least 60 percent cheaper to maintain than a reel mower’
Sportservice Ede has noticed that the rotary mower works faster than the reel mower, especially on large areas. That pays off, especially on large surfaces without obstacles. The disadvantage is that it is less manoeuvrable. Dirksen explains: ‘We mow in corners with the front mower, but a small reel mower behind the goals is manoeuvrable.’ For Dirksen, however, the benefits outweigh the benefits. ‘With the rotary mower there are almost no clumps left. With the reel mower there were large grass lumps, especially in the autumn with dew. We had some small clumps with the Major in the beginning, but then we took the scraper bars off the roller. Now there’s almost no clumping and the grass just falls off the roller. That is a real advantage, because we now have to sweep a lot less. ‘
Because the Major is heavier than the cylinder mower, Dirksen had his doubts about the ground pressure before purchasing it. In practice, however, this has not been a problem. ‘Our expectation was that we would encounter problems in wet conditions and that more compaction would occur, but the opposite is true. It is important that the correct tyres are on the tractor. We regularly check the fields with a penetrometer. When we mowed another section with a reel mower, there was nowhere softer than the section we mowed with the Major.
In addition to his work in Ede, Dirksen has always remained involved in the monitoring of the fields in Wageningen. This year a new step was taken: Sportservice Ede, in addition to its own fields in Ede, will also mow all the fields in Wageningen. ‘At the end of last year, we asked the grounds people from Wageningen to come and have a look,’ says Dirksen. They were also enthusiastic about the mowing pattern of the Major. That is why we are now also doing the mowing there. In total we now have 47 fields to mow; we mow them all twice a week with our Major during the growing season. We have so much mowing to do, that we recently purchased a second Major rotary mower combination, along with a Fendt 211. ‘
The combination of a tractor and the Major rotary mowers was more expensive to purchase than a reel mower. However, the tractor can be used for more things, Dirksen explains. ‘The cylinder mower comes to a standstill from November to March. We can use our Fendt in the autumn for sanding and shredding, for example, or for rolling and spreading manure. So we use it a lot more. The Major roller mower is at least 60 percent cheaper to maintain than the cylinder mower. Our reel mower was nearing the end of its operating time. Then every autumn all the reels had to be taken off to sharpen. This is a lot easier with the Major rotary mower. It is much easier to access everything, including the cutting decks. ‘
Translation of article which originally appeared in FieldManager magazine here.