Flail Mowers: Berta, BCS, And Bellon Brands
These heavy-duty mowers feature a horizontally-mounted drum with numerous sets of hinged blades mounted to it. The blades “flail” out by centrifugal force (at a drum speed of about 3000 rpm) to pulverize material. Flail mowers are excellent for reducing mowed material to a very small size for quick incorporation/breakdown into the soil. They are very popular for cover crops for this reason. A six-foot tall cover crop can be reduced to 2” – 4” pieces in a single pass and left evenly distributed across the width of the mower.
Because of the time and horsepower required to “grind up” the material that is being mowed, the taller and denser the material is, the slower this type of mower typically has to travel (unlike a Cutter [sickle] Bar Mower, which only cuts material off at the bottom and therefore doesn’t care how tall it is…or a Brush Mower, which will give a decent cut at higher speeds but just not grind the material up much).
HOWEVER, with the introduction of the BERTA brand (the same company that builds our Rotary Plow) flail mowers in 2010, this has changed…Berta is the first manufacturer to offer flail mowers with an adjustable-size discharge port on their flail mower. The adjustment is achieved via a removable “baffle”: If installed, the discharge port is SMALLER, and the material stays inside the mower longer and gets chopped up more; If the baffle is removed, the discharge port is LARGER, and the mower discharges the cut material in larger pieces, therefore requiring less power, and the mower can be run at higher ground speeds. This allows the Berta flail mowers to double as an effective and fast Brush Mower, as well as being a great cover-crop mower.
BCS "Blade Runner" flail mower
The BCS brand (“Blade Runner”) and Bellon brand flail mowers have caster wheels standard equipment; they adjust via a screw-crank. On the BCS BladeRunner mowers, the wheels can also be lifted and locked in a “straight up” position, if desired, to get them out of the way (like the Berta caster wheels in the picture above), and then the BCS BladeRunner mowers rest on “skids” (which are NOT adjustable in height). The BCS BladeRunner mowers do have an option available of a full-width “anti-scalp” steel roller for height regulation (like what the Berta mowers come with standard)…this is NOT adjustable in height; cutting height is about 2” with this installed. Also, the BCS and Bellon brand flail mowers DO NOT have a removable discharge baffle like the Berta mowers, so they chop up the material to the same size all the time. NOTE: BCS claims that their “High-Dome” chamber design on their “BladeRunner” models eliminates the need for a removable discharge baffle…but in reality, the end result is that the BCS flail mowers (like tractor-mounted flail mowers) do NOT have a way to control the amount the material gets chopped up. The “High-Dome” design simply means that the material is not held as closely to the blades, so it will never get chopped up as fine as what a Berta can do with the discharge baffle installed.
The Berta and Bellon flails have an oscillating PTO mount (IF the tractor is equipped with a quick coupling) which allows the mower to “float” on uneven terrain, for an even cut. The BCS flails do NOT have a “floating” feature.
In late 2016, BCS introduced a new flail mower option: The “RollerBlade”, which is available in a 30” width only. Interestingly, it is modeled almost precisely after the Berta brand flails, except it does NOT have a “floating” feature to aid the quality of cut on uneven ground, and it does NOT have a removable discharge-baffle to adjust material-discharge size. However, we have this model available as well, if someone should want it.
|Berta Flails||BCS “Rollerblade” Flails||BCS “Blade Runner” Flails|
|Material Discharge Size||Adjustable by removable baffle: With baffle IN, makes material “small” (for cover crops & vegetable residue) OR, with baffle OUT, (larger discharged material) for brush mowing||Fixed, always shreds material “small” (good for cover crops, but not great for brush mowing)||Fixed, always shreds material to a “medium” size (not as versatile)|
|Width options||26”, 30”, 34”||30”||24”, 30”, 35”|
|Cutting Height adjustment||6 positions within 2.5” range via adjustable full-width steel roller: causes no compression on beds, stays on top of raised beds (caster wheels optional if desired)||Variable within 2” range via adjustable full-width steel roller: causes no compression on beds, stays on top of raised beds||Variable within 3.5” range via adjustable caster wheels (OK for field mowing, not good for raised beds)|
|“Floating” mower deck||Yes, mower “swivels” in PTO coupling to allow mower to follow ground contours separate from tractor wheels (smoother cut)||None, deck is rigid to tractor||None, deck is rigid to tractor|
|Blade type||Heavy-duty Y blades standard, scarification or lawn mowing blades optional||Heavy-duty Y blades standard, lawn mowing blades optional||Light-duty Y blades standard, lawn mowing blades optional|
|Caster Wheels||Optional, adjustable (only potentially desirable for field mowing…no good on raised beds)||Not available||Standard, adjustable (full-width roller optional for raised beds [extra cost])|
|Front “Louver” (guard)||With individual swinging “flaps” for protection, Adjustable in height to accommodate different height materials||With individual swinging “flaps” for protection, NOT adjustable||Spring-loaded adjustment, no individual flaps|
All the flail mowers have an oil bath input-shaft gearbox with grease fittings on rotor bearings. They use two V-belts to transfer power to the blade rotor. Belts are easily adjustable and replaceable.
20" Bellon flail mower on Grillo G107 tractor
All our Flail mowers come standard with Y-blades, which will cut anything from grass and weeds to ¾” hardwood or 1” softwood saplings. The mowers can also be equipped with straight “scarification” blades, which will do light slitting of the ground for overseeding. Another blade option is “lawn/finishing” blades, which will do a smoother, nicer-looking job on a lawn. (NOTE: The Y-blades on the BCS BladeRunner flails are not as heavy-duty as the ones on the Berta or Bellon mowers, so they will not cut material quite as large [½” hardwood / ¾” softwood saplings], and they are not as durable.)
NOTE: Some farmers are starting to grow a cover-crop called SUN-HEMP. Virtually NO flail mower can cut this stuff once it is mature!! If you plan on growing sun-hemp, it must be mowed while the plant is young (first flowers just visible) and the stalks are still very supple and not woody / fibrous.