31 May 1996

Need a conditioner?

BUYING a mower fitted with a conditioner is probably an unnecessary expense if the farm is also going to ted and rake, claim three Lackham College students.

Chris Wiltshire, John Newcombe and Mike Kingdom looked at the drying effect produced by flail and roller mower conditioners, and replicated the trials to compare them with the effect of separate tedding and raking operations.

Drying rates from the different conditioners were broadly similar. But, not surprisingly, the students found that tedding/raking gave the most dramatic drying effect over a 36-hour period and that, in most instances, conditioning was unnecessary if tedders and rakes were used.

"If already tedding and raking, buying a new mower with a conditioner is probably a waste of money. The conditioner increases the cost of the mower and uses more power," Chris Wiltshire reckons.

But Mr Wiltshire concedes that there are certain circumstances in which conditioning followed by tedding may increase drying rates – for example, when cutting older, stalky grasses which are more reluctant to release their juices.