What Is A Rotary Cutter?

When it comes to construction or landscape clearing, you know you need to have the right tools for the job to make the most efficient use of your time. We all know that a digger does the same job as a spade or shovel but one will take a lot longer to dig a large area or bury a pipe than the other.

Making sure you have the right machinery for every part of the job is vital to the success of the project, but how do you know what machinery or attachments you will need?

Few of us are genuine experts on operation machinery since there are so many different types, and without knowing what you’re looking for and the name of it, you’re not going to be able to find or source the kit that you need.

Help is at hand though, because we’re on a mission to help you understand different types of operational machinery and learn what they’re used for, so you know what terms to search for and find exactly what you’ll need. Let’s take a look at the rotary cutter and find out in which situations one might come in handy. 

What Is A Rotary Cutter? 

You may have heard the term before, but not have known exactly what one is or what it’s used for. If you search this question, you’ll find plenty of information about fabric rotary cutters for sewing and quilt making, but not a lot about how a tractor-mounted rotary cutter will help cut anything thicker than satin.

Even if you do have the right search terms, you may still not be able to find the information that you need. That’s why we’re here to help. 

A rotary cutter is a tractor-towed tool that is dragged along the ground to help trim and control areas of pasture or similar which have become infested with weeds, or tall grasses.

They are designed to cut through thick and rough organic material of up to around an inch in stem diameter and typically leaves the waste on the ground in its wake to return the energy from the fallen vegetation back to the soil. 

What Do You Use Rotary Cutters For?

Rotary cutters are particularly handy if you have to mow meadows or other fallow lands. Farmers often have to mow wildflower meadows once a year to encourage new growth and help to feed the land. Rotary cutters would be ideal for this.

Another good situation to use a rotary cutter in would be trim roadside verges. Brush and tall weeds often dominate these areas but a quick once over with a rotary cutter will make them look neater and well maintained.

Tall grass and overgrown verges can often have a negative impact on driver visibility too, so mowing roadsides around bends or near junctions can be very useful for the safety of motorists. 

Owners or managers of large areas of land such as estates or farms may find that paths or even cut-throughs for tractors frequently get overgrown with thick vegetation and need regular trimming to keep them accessible. To clear dense vegetation, the rotary cutter is perfect.

You can always go over the area again with a grooming mower once the area is clear enough to do so, for a more manicured look. If you keep livestock in pasture fields, you may need to install electric fences or other types of fencing from time to time to move your livestock.

The rotary mower will clear the land enough to get your fencing established, so they’re very useful for farms with sheep or other animals. 

Keeping clearings in wooded land clear of dense growth can also require a rotary cutter. Letting sunshine through a canopy of leaves can diversify the suitability of a habitat for wildlife while encouraging younger trees to establish.

Is A Rotary Cutter The Same As A Grooming Mower? 

A tractor-mounted rotary cutter is not to be confused with a grooming mower as they perform different functions for different mowing situations. A grooming mower is designed to give a good, smooth finish to grass that is already well maintained.

A grooming mower may collect the organic waste as it cuts too, which is ideal for manicured lawn mowing since leaving cut grass on a freshly mown lawn will look unsightly and messy. However, a rotary cutter will not usually collect the clippings, but deposits them on the ground behind the implement as it cuts. 

A grooming mower may collect the organic waste as it cuts too, which is ideal for manicured lawn mowing since leaving cut grass on a freshly mown lawn will look unsightly and messy. However, a rotary cutter will not usually collect the clippings, but deposits them on the ground behind the implement as it cuts. 

What Are The Different Types Of Rotary Cutters?

Some smaller rotary mowers can be mounted on the three-point hitch on tractors while other larger ones will need to attach to your drawbar which means the head is controlled by the tractor’s hydraulic system. If you have a lot of rough land to clear or maintain, then so-called bat wing rotary mowers are even bigger versions of rotary cutters you might encounter.

Bat wing cutters can be up to fifteen feet in width so are best for very heavy-duty jobs that need to be completed fast. These will need a high horsepower tractor to operate them though, so make sure you check which type of rotary cutter will be compatible with your own tractor before you make a purchase. 

The three-point hitch rotary mowers are the most common amongst homesteads, ranches, and small farms though, as they can cover about five to six feet of cutting which is specific enough that you’re not going to accidentally cut an area that you didn’t intend to cut. 

What Are Other Names For Rotary Cutters?

Rotary cutters are also known as rotary mowers since their general purpose is to mow a rough landscape, but don’t let the name confuse you. These are not suitable for mowing a finely manicured lawn, they are for trimming brush, dense grassland, or even tree saplings with a trunk diameter of up to an inch. They are not designed for lawn maintenance. 

Final Thoughts

In summary, rotary cutters are a useful tool to have for clearing or mowing rough land. They attach to the back of tractors and are dragged behind.

Rotary cutters come in many sizes depending on the size of the task they will need to undertake and the horsepower of your tractor, so you should be able to find one that will suit your needs without much trouble.

Rotary cutters are generally cheaper than mowing machinery, so are an inexpensive alternative for reclaiming old fields or mowing down fallow lands for the good of the environment and to encourage a diverse natural habitat for local nature. 

Ryan Genkin
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