Topping grassland

Just after people's opinions. What would you top this with?
Rotary topper
Flail topper
Disc mower

I've done it before with a rotary topper but I think it leaves a rough finish so the grass doesn't recover as well . Also used a lot of shear bolts.

Cut it all with disc mower first year we had it but baled it. Worried if it's left in a swath it will kill grass

Never used flail topper
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neilo

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Montgomeryshire
Sharpen the blades on your rotary topper and go slower to save breaking the shear bolts?

I’ve tried using a disc mower for topping, as well as my old Spearhead. Both make the same job of producing a clean cut, as long as the blades are sharp (quick visit with an angle grinder occasionally).
 
I have a rotary topper, cheap and cheerful, but it leaves strips where the wheels go, the off set topper were far more expensive and to be honest looked not that robust, I did work on a farm that had an airfield and had to top that in reverse for that reason. I like the idea of a flail topper, but they are far more expensive, never used a mower (son has and said it can be difficult to cut higher, guess you just lengthen the top link), I was at a farming connect day and James Daniel of Precision Grazing said toppers leave a rough edge on the grass so stunt growth so he recommended a mower. Having said all that, cost means I use the rotary topper.

Wet rushy field here, which I thought I would top and run the subsoiler through to try to improve drainage. Decided to do it in that order as the subsoiling could bring up stones which I thought could damage the topper, big mistake as the rushes have laid almost in swaths on the field and tush up in front of the subsoiler legs, disaster should have subsoiled then topped! Going to wait for the end of the summer for the rushes to rot down a bit and try again.
 
I’ve used both a flail topper and a disc mower this year to tidy up. The mower does a much neater job in thinner stuff but yesterday I did a thick sward that had gone to seed and I used the topper for that because it chops and spreads but it is not a very tidy job.
As you say there is a danger of smothering the grass underneath leaving a thick swath.
I think I would go into that with my flail.
 
Location
Ceredigion
If those are rushes , then my first job would be spray them , but that's not what you asked
My father Christmas Contractor has just bought a flail topper to do mine , slower more expensive , but will cut lower and cleaner and leave less trash
Looking at yours you may be better mowing and baling
 

shumungus

Member
Livestock Farmer
Mower will leave grass in swards so not good. Flail topper is slow and leaves rough finish compared to a mower or good topper.
A good quality rotary topper is designed for this type of work, a lot of the toy mickey mouse ones behind the tractor won't cut your wheel tracks and don't go hard enough to cut well. Another problem with toppers is people don't keep them sharp and blades are dear so don't tend to replace them till they are completely wore out. A good rotary topper properly set will cut evenly, cleanly, mulch the debris and spread it out. As regards cleanliness of cut a flail topper has a shaft speed of in around 2200rpm giving a flail tip speed of 110mph. Good rotarys like rhinos or SR's have a blade tip speed of 180 to 210 mph so if kept sharp will provide a cleaner cut.
 

milkloss

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
East Sussex
Rotary. You'd need a good offset flail to make it worthwhile and even then it'd but raggy imo. You could get a front mounted flail but then you mentioning shear bolts breaking would worry me if it was in the front.
 
I got a set foc with my Malone mower and thought they’d never be used. I have put them on a couple of times and the work well, lifting the bed a couple of inches which will protect it from stones more than just extending the top link to tilt it back.

You beat me to it Neil....

I have bought a new Malone specifically for mowing herbal leys with a 5-6" long stubble and it came with 3 topping skids for this. I reckon they are OK on billiard table surfaces, but I was advised by the malone rep, that for rougher land, I should fit a full set, "as the Irish lads do" to preserve the mower bed when topping. I also run a long top link.

First cut was all trad leys so on the floor with the bed. Then the herbal ley ...

After 30minutes on the ley, I was on the phone chasing down another 4 skids, which I found at Border Plant near Sandbach (thanks Steve!!) They transformed the ride on the bed... no more rattling and shaking!

I have subsequently used the Malone for topping, and the flail and the rotary moweres can stop in the shed now... Flail will be used on heavily BL infested areas still, but it is slow and power hungry, the Malone tootles around at 1300RPM on a whiff of fuel and leaves a grand job amd the stock tidy up nicely.

PS: Malone will also make even higher skids if required... I asked, but am delighted with the job it is doing.
 

LIVE - DEFRA SFI Janet Hughes “ask me anything” 19:00-20:00 20th September (Today)

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Hello, I’m Janet Hughes. I’m the Programme Director for the Future Farming and Countryside Programme in Defra – the programme that’s phasing out the Common Agricultural Policy and introducing new schemes and services for farmers.



Today (20 September) between 7pm-8pm, I and some of my colleagues will be answering your questions about our work including the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Farming in Protected Landscapes, and our test and trials.



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