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By Mike Fitzpatrick
Grounds Management Article Use Policy
Fuel choice. More manufacturers are offering mowers powered by alternative fuels. Propane-powered mowers have been the biggest development because propane offers the potential for reduced fuel costs when compared to gasoline. Propane also burns cleaner and creates fewer combustion byproducts when compared to gasoline, and it will not contaminate the soil or groundwater if operators spill it.
As more managers continue looking for fuel alternatives, clean diesel-powered mowers are also becoming more popular equipment options for several reasons. Clean-burning diesel provides more than 50 percent greater power than propane per gallon equivalent, and it emits less carbon monoxide and certain greenhouse gasses than propane- or gasoline-powered equipment. Biodiesel fuel can power any conventional diesel engine, and it is renewable and produced domestically from new and recycled vegetable oils and animal fat.
Environmental issues. Few operations in facilities have been affected more by the rise of sustainability than mowing. Environmental issues have played a key role in an increased selection of environmentally friendly features, such as biodegradable hydraulic oils, lower noise levels, and lower emission levels — all of which are designed to reduce the impact of mowers on the environment.
With propane, stringent Tier 4 emission standards, electronic fuel injection and electric power all becoming hot topics, managers can expect to see these options more often when purchasing mowers.
Ergonomics and safety. Working in the hot sun is hard enough for mowing crews. Throw in an uncomfortable, stiff mower seat, and the day feels even longer. Manufacturers have made a concerted effort in recent years to address these issues by redesigning equipment to increase operator comfort.
Now, more mowers are equipped with such ergonomic features as independent four-wheel suspension, seat suspension, vibration absorption, and improved steering and additional control enhancements. Some models have electric deck lifts for ease of operation, as well as easier control of the mower’s cutting height. One model can be set at 19 different cutting heights.
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