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Tractor, ZeroTurn or Wide Area Mower for Large Acreages ?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by EcoGreen Services, Jan 13, 2010.

  1. EcoGreen Services

    EcoGreen Services LawnSite Member
    Messages: 205

    I'm bidding on some large commercial property.

    It's tendered per zone. Each zone is 20 to 40 acres. It's a one year contract with 2, 1 year renewal terms. They're mostly flat and open.

    When I get them, I will need larger / Wider equipment suitable for large acreages.

    I'm thinking of going with a small tractor like a John Deere 3000 or 4000 series because those are the largest I believe you can put a mid mount mower on. Also the availability of a full cab would make life more comfortable. A 3 point hitch mounted spreader would also greatly speed up fertilizing. A small tractor would also be useful in other aspects of my business.

    A large ZT would also be usable on some large residential accounts I have.

    I know a wide area mower like a John Deere 1600 turbo would eat up the acres but would be limited pretty much to that account.

    I'm leaning towards the compact tractor right now

    Anyone using compact tractors for large acreages ? What actual acre per hour production are you getting ? How do you find them for fuel consumption compared to large gas powered ZTs ?

    Thoughts ?
  2. Mickhippy

    Mickhippy LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,274

    Is it smooth?
    How many acres all up?

    I mowed a new development with a 31/60 SuperZ (see pics). Think it was about 10 or 11 acres of really rough ground, long grass etc that was usually bush hogged. It took me about 7hrs. I was told it usually took 11 to 13hrs with the tractor/bush hog.

    Theres more to this place than in the pics, behind the trees on the left/top pic. Only grass I didnt mow is 2 narrow strips next to the concrete path and a couple of other small areas.

    Point is, unless you go a WAM, your best bet would probably be zero turns... IMHO!



  3. RonAyersMotorsports

    RonAyersMotorsports LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 854

    Love the mower! :weightlifter:
  4. hackitdown

    hackitdown LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,632

    I have a tractor with a Bushhog, which I have used to mow rough lawns a few times. It is very, very slow.

    But if it is flat and wide open, I have to think a tractor with a rear batwing style mower attachment would be faster than a ZTR. There is a local private school in my area that uses one, and it can cut in (what looks like) 10 foot wide passes. They are cutting huge lawns, playing fields, etc. And as you said, a tractor is very usefull for loads of other applications.
  5. hackitdown

    hackitdown LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,632

  6. Mickhippy

    Mickhippy LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,274

    Thanks mate. Goes good!
  7. jkilov

    jkilov LawnSite Bronze Member
    from MS
    Messages: 1,415

    I would recommend a 72" ZTR with a big block engine and some sort of suspension. A 2 man crew with a regular truck + trailer + residential ZTR you already have + 72" ZTR is an efficient, mobile, practical and safe way to mow large areas.

    Don't consider a WAM until you have at least 150-200 acres. They cost $30k+, may require special trailers and aren't strikingly faster than 72" ZTRs.

    Compact tractors have a mobility problem, though they fit easily on trailers, their attachments often don't. There are other more practical issues with tractors and WAMs.
  8. 1993lx172

    1993lx172 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,305

    Sorry to hijack but, Mickhippy what do you guys down there run for trucks and what not does the the "big three" (ford, Chevy, Dodge) have much presence or are Izzu's and Toyota's (being so close to Japan) have a larger market share?

    Hijack over.

    To the OP, I'd try and do like what one of the others said, get a decent sized tractor (JD 4000 series or another comparable brand and series line up) and run one of those 12' or 16' batwing finish mowers.

    With a bunch of Ztrs you'd have to hire on more operators, WAMs are expensive and can't do much else other than mow. I've looked on line and a WAM will run you about the same as a tractor with a batwing but be less use full to you as far as other applications go.

    I wouldn't go with a belly mower, the biggest you can go is 72" and the tractor will be slower than a Z.
  9. EcoGreen Services

    EcoGreen Services LawnSite Member
    Messages: 205

    All up there are about 480 Acres. But it is tendered in parcels, so the machine I buy will depend on how many parcels I get. It's also unknown at this point how many parcels will be tendered.

    I saw the new Toro Groundsmaster 5900 at the Landscape Ontario show today.. 16ft wide and cuts a acre in 5 minutes. 99hp Cummins turbo diesel and a quick way to blow about $50,000. That thing is a beast.

    If I go ZT I want a diesel , they tend to be much easier on fuel and most of my other equipment is diesel fueled.

    There are some advantages to the compact tractor route, I have a 8ft X 20ft 12,000lb flat deck trailer so transporting it isn't a problem. The largest mid mount deck you can get on the ones I looked at were 72". The John Deere 7 Iron decks do produce a really nice cut. The advantage is being able to run 3PT PTO equipment.

    Also had a look at the Ferris IS5100Z with the 33.5HP Cat Diesel. I have a great Ferris dealer close and have had great luck with the 48" IS1500Z with the Kawi and I have to admit I love the suspension. Old Bones I guess.
  10. doubleedge

    doubleedge LawnSite Senior Member
    from ND
    Messages: 911

    Lastec makes both 3 point hitch and zero turn wide area articulating mowers, if quality is a concern. A tractor would be the most useful for year round applications.

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