Mowing is a simple, but remarkable farm maintenance practice that offers many benefits in orchard and vineyard management. More concretely, mowing is a unique farm practice that improves soil condition, reduces pest occurrence, and enhances crop growth. Therefore, farmers who practice mowing regularly are definitely on path to a well-maintained orchard.
The only possible disadvantage of mowing is that it requires maintenance at a high frequency, particularly when the weather conditions are favorable for rapid grass growth. Due to the high frequency of needed mowing, there is a larger possibility of the potential damage to the trees. In this respect, farmers must manage mowing carefully to avoid any potential damage to the trees. However, farmers who possess suitable mowing machinery have no excuse for grass-overgrown orchards.
Let's Get to Know Mowing Machinery
In an attempt to keep their orchards neat and well-maintained and manage the weeds, farmers use mowers or mulchers. The major difference between machinery for mowing and mulching is in the main principle of cutting the grass.
Mowers are designed to cut the grass while leaving the grass leftovers on the orchard surface. On the contrary, the construction of mulchers allows them to cut the grass and turn over the leftovers, thus chopping them into tiny particles. Therefore, mulchers evenly deposit grass mulch layer, significantly improving soil organic matter.
How is that possible? Well, there is one major difference between the mulcher and the mower- the construction.
The construction of the mulcher is closed (by a removable or openable cover, depending on the model or producer) so the grass doesn't fly out of the construction on the orchard floor. Instead, the grass is chopped up multiple times and evenly deposited as mulch layer on the orchard floor. For this reason, farmers usually prefer using mulchers rather than regular mowers.
Frequently Used Machines for Orchard Floor Maintenance
In order to keep their orchards or vineyards well-maintained, farmers generally use one of two types of mowers/ mulchers:
1. Flail mulcher
The main component of the flail mulcher is a horizontally-mounted spinning drum (also called tube, rotor, or axle) with the “flails“ (knives or blades) attached to the drum. As the drum rotates, the centrifugal force rotates the flails at a high speed. The flails cut the grass vertically. Since the flails are not attached to the drum in a fixed position, they bounce off the rocks or other stationary objects. The closed construction enables shredding of the grass leftovers, turning them into a grass mulch layer. The flail mulchers are usually attached to a tractor by a three-point linkage system. They come in a wide range of sizes suitable for maintaining different crops.
2. Rotary mower/mulcher
It's important to point out the difference between rotary mowers and mulchers. Rotary mulchers involve closed construction that enables chopping of grass leftovers. Oppositely, rotary mowers have open construction so the grass immediately flies away. Generally, orchard and vineyard growers use mulchers to maintain the grass.
Regardless of the construction, they both cut the grass by using two horizontally rotating blades. As the blade rotates parallel to the ground, rotary mowers/ mulchers do a great job of cutting the grass quickly. They vary in size and additional attachments, such as with the additional swinging arm that allows for easy mowing around trees.
Farmers desiring the best results should pay close attention to every aspect of their crop production, including grass maintenance. There are so many benefits to one simple farm maintenance practice, like mowing. Therefore, mowing machinery is something that every successful orchard or vineyard grower must include as part of the standard farm equipment.
Text sources: University of Vermont