Using your walk behind or ride-on field mower on a steep slope can be tricky business. The loss of traction and the sense of unease when brush cutting on a slope can make you uncomfortable. What’s more, the pull of gravity downhill along with the added safety risks to you and to the mower make it important to adjust your cutting style when brush mowing on a slope. Safety should always be a consideration when using a field mower but when using a field mower on slopes, it becomes that much more important. Here are some tips on how to stay safe when field mowing on slopes, as well as what to look for in a field mower if you need to cut slopes on a regular basis.
Safety First! Keep You and Your Field Mower from Harm on Slopes
Here are some tips to keep in mind when field mowing on slopes:
- Direction of Cut: If you are using a walk behind field mower, then you should cut side slope (back and forth across the hill, rather than up and down). This not only helps keep the machine from getting away from you when cutting downhill, it makes oil sloshing (oil tipping out of the engine pan, causing the engine to run dry) less likely. When mowing with a ride on mower, you should cut up and down the slope unless the operator’s manual says otherwise.
- Watch those Turns: If it is possible, you should avoid turning on a hill. However, if you absolutely need to turn when you are using a walk behind field mower, you should turn uphill. Thus when possible, you should mow from the bottom of the hill when using a walk behind field mower on a slope.
- Take it Easy, Tex! You will want to mow more slowly when field mowing on slopes. This will help you to more easily spot and avoid any ruts, obstacles or holes in the ground. And, of course, it will make it easier to keep control of your mower.
- Read that Operator’s Manual: Mower manufacturers create those operator’s manuals for a reason: they provide tips and guidelines for best mowing practices, including slope mowing. Read your operator’s manual to understand what grade of slope your field mower can handle and how to best operate the machine on a hill.
- Don’t Feel Comfortable? Stop Mowing: If you begin to feel uncomfortable when you are field mowing on a slope then you should definitely stop mowing and safely leave the area. Don’t feel that you should “push on” just to finish an area that may safe enough to mow. It’s better to leave an area uncut than to risk harm to you or to your machine.
What to Look for in a Field Mower When Mowing on a Slope
Some field mowers will operate more efficiently and with greater safety than others. What should you look for in a field mower if you need to clear brush on slopes on a regular basis? Here are some important features to be on the look out for when selecting the right field mower:
- Added Traction: A field mower that will give you the option of added traction is a must for cutting on slopes. If the field mower is wheeled (walk behind or ride-on), then a differential locking option, such as the one available on Orec America’s Brush Rover Riding Brush Mower or Orec’s Samurai Walk Behind Brush Cutter, can give you the added traction for greater performance and peace of mind when cutting on slopes.
- Tracks are where it’s at: A field mower with tracks, like Orec’s Cyclone Walk Behind Flail Brush Mower gives you added traction as well; and with its independent brake turning system, you can one track or the other to keep the Cyclone level when cutting on slopes. This will give you greater control and stability when field mowing on slopes.
- Keep a Low Profile: If you are using a riding field mower to mow on a slope, then a mower with a low profile like Orec’s Brush Rover is a great idea. A field mower with a low profile will hug those slopes and are less likely to tip than a field mower with a higher profile.
Remember, safety is always the first consideration when you field mow, and it should be at top of your mind when you mow on a slope. Stay safe and make sure that you are using a field mower that can handle slopes.