We asked experts from several mower manufacturers: What are some of the new advancements regarding mowing and athletic fields, and what are the demands you’re seeing in the athletic fields industry? Also, what are some trends that this industry may see in the next five years?
Here’s what they had to say:
Two common themes we’re hearing from sports field managers today is productivity and field safety. Not only are they looking for ways to do more with less, they’re also putting a renewed focus on field safety. We incorporated that customer feedback into our new offering of rotary and reel products. We’ve added nearly 3 feet of cutting width on two of our mowers, both the all-new LF557/LF577 seven-reel mower and the world’s first 14-foot rotary mower, the HR700, significantly increasing mower productivity — up to 38 percent for the HR700. And to respond to field safety concerns, the HR700 and the forthcoming series of new Jacobsen HR rotaries are built primarily with lighter weight, high-strength steel. The significantly lighter machine helps field managers reduce the soil compaction that can lead to player injuries.
Research and Development Manager/Progressive Turf Equipment
We’ve seen a demand to reduce equipment maintenance requirements. This has driven Progressive’s design process for the last several years. We were the first company to introduce maintenance-free blade spindles on large (greater than 22 feet) turfgrass production mowers. These ultra-widearea mowers see more hours in a week than most other applications and, thus, more maintenance demands. We’ve also seen a demand for lower operating costs — running a mower costs money, but it has to be done. Progressive’s approach is to offer both increased utilization and higher production to combat cost. As far as industry trends, the simple reality of shrinking budgets is driving changes. Many facilities are moving to pull-behind rotary mowers; not only a lower-cost purchase option, but also ongoing maintenance costs are lower as rotary blades are easily sharpened and replaced.
Technology focused on productivity is everdeveloping in this industry, and we believe it’s important to be consistently building and innovating on a strong foundation of fieldproven maintenance and mowing equipment. Sports field professionals continue to place value on equipment that can complete any task in the most productive and efficient manner without sacrificing overall quality of cut. One example of how Toro is leading the way in this area is by introducing innovative new mowers, like the Reelmaster 3555-D and 3575-D. This is a new, lightweight reel mower built upon a compact chassis, making it gentle on the sports field turf. In the next five years, we believe that overall productivity — whether it’s out in the field, or by simplifying routine maintenance efforts — along with product versatility will continue to be key factors in the equipment decisions of field mangers.