- Before weeds go to seed, including any plant in the pasture not to the liking of your animals.
- Before woody brush and weeds that propagate asexually form green leaves. With repeated mowing, root systems die.
- When a cover crop needs to be terminated.
- When mulch is needed for the garden.
- When green matter is needed for composting.
- When forage/hay needs to be made.
The most popular of these is the sickle bar attachment built by BCS. Because material is cut just once at the base, the height of the material does not influence ground speed. And the all-gear-driven tractors can power cutting widths that range from 30” to 82”! The cut material is relatively easy to gather due to its length, and there are even 50” and 60” side delivery rakes available that create windrows to further facilitate pickup.
With a choice of 10 different length bars, the sickle bar is ideal for maintaining grass paths between perennial plantings, such as high bush blueberries and Christmas trees. The narrowness of the tractor’s wheel base relative to the length of the cutting bar enables it to cut under low-lying branches without danger of limb damage by the wheels, and makes it ideal for mowing pond banks, under fences, and across steep slopes.
At the other end of the mowing spectrum are the flail mower attachments. Instead of cutting each stalk once, the flail mower pulverizes plant material it into tiny bits. Mowing heights as low as ½” make this the preferred means for terminating a cover crop, and the resulting small particle size speeds its decomposition. When equipped with a full-length roller, even cover crops and plant residues on raised beds are processed quickly, efficiently, and with minimal compaction. The flail mower also acts as a “shredder on wheels” with the ground serving as the bottom of the shredding chamber. Prunings from grape vines and cane-fruit can easily be mulched in the pathways, rather than having to be carried off and processed elsewhere.
As the mowing height of the flail mower is increased toward its maximum of 4”, the particle size also increases and resembles the results achieved with the rotary brush mower. The brush mower is a smaller version of models designed for four-wheel tractors – a heavy-duty square deck to process large quantities of material per unit of time; swing blades that fold back when a solid object is hit; and a “stump jumper” blade holder that protects against collisions with large unseen obstructions. Unlike the models for four-wheel tractors, the brush mower attachment “floats” side-to-side to limit scalping and conform to changing ground contours.
For manicured lawns, lawn mower attachments are available. For the organic gardener, the most noteworthy feature is that a bagging system is standard with every model, and grass clippings are a great amendment to the compost pile or mulch for the garden.
As a final note: a single Canada thistle produces more than 10,000 seeds. The need to mow ALL such weeds requires accessing areas where four-wheel tractors can’t go – but a two-wheel tractor can.