Following a chance encounter with Marolin hedgecutters at an Irish hedgecutting world record attempt, Tractor Guard, a specialist in polycarbonate window protection, has since become its UK importer.
It was this initial encounter which prompted Tractor Guard to get in touch with the Italian firm asking if it could borrow a hedgecutter for its Lamma stand. After a little more research, and finding out Marolin had no UK importer, Tractor Guard offered to bring them in.
To find out what one is like, we got our hands on an M61CT - quite a high specification machine and the second largest available in the Marolin range.
Features include a 65hp gear pump (85hp piston pump optional), parallel linkage, a 1.5-metre (5ft) reversible flail head with bolt-adjustable roller and a seven-metre (23ft) telescopic reach.
Options fitted comprise an adjustable floating system, which allows for high-speed verge mowing, and full proportional electronic controls. Other control options available are cable-based joystick and lever types.
Cooling and lighting packages are standard and all sales, naturally, include a three-piece window guard.
For transport, it slews to the rear. A nifty feature, and one which could potentially save hundreds of pounds, is an adjustable stop which prevents the main headgecutter arm hitting the cab roof when put into transport position.
It takes 540rpm to drive, so it is quite feasible to put the tractor’s pto into economy mode and run the engine with fewer revs.
From the outset, build quality looks good. Metal work appears quite substantial, especially the main A-frame. Guards are also thick gauge sheet metal which look like they could stand some hammer, although they do need unbolting for servicing - clips might be handier.
While these Italian-made hedgecutters are, in the most part, suited to UK demands, there are a couple of areas which are being looked at to make it more suited to our conditions. For example, the Italians use the hedgecutters a lot for ditch trimming ,and as a result, they like the motor mounted on the inside of the head.
For the UK, this will be moved to the outer end of the head to make it more suitable for hedgecutting. The front flap on the head is also going to be made hydraulically-adjustable as an option.
The hedgecutters can be pretty much made to how you would like them. For instance, cranked arms can be specified which reach around the cab to place the head alongside, saving neck strain. You can also get front-mounted and left- or right-handed versions.
Attaching and detaching the machine to the tractor is relatively simple, with the machine connected to the tractor via the three-point linkage and screw-adjustable struts to hold the machine rigid.
However, jack legs are a little short and the machine requires a couple of pallets to sit on, but the manufacturer is looking into this, we are told.
As an option, axle brackets can be specified to fit the machine to the tractor.
Controls just slip over the tractor’s existing armrest, which makes fitting convenient, especially if the hedgecutter is being swapped
Control layout is fairly self explanatory, with the main joystick taking care of all arm and head movements, and buttons to activate various functions such as flail engagement and float. Float sensitivity can also be adjusted via a knob.
Electronic proportional controls are pretty sensitive and take some getting used to, but after a day in the seat we reckon a good operator will have them mastered. Responsiveness is good and actions are pretty smooth. Oil-flow is also good enough to make multiple actions swift enough.
While we were not exactly attacking hedgerows with two or three years’ growth, the amount of foliage being cut in one pass was pretty sizeable and the cut quality and finish were decent. T-flails were fitted which also managed grass cutting well.
At 1,400kg, you know the machine is there, but in our case, using a 140hp Case IH Maxxum stability remained pretty good throughout the evaluation, even at full stretch and reaching over hedges to do the far side.
With seven metres (23ft) of telescoping reach, this particular model should be able to tackle most situations. Articulation of the arm was quite generous, affording close quarter hedge trimming to deep ditches.
Its parallel linkage also does a good job, for the most part, at proportionally moving the second part of the arm when the main arm is moved. Depending on whether you are doing the sides or top of a hedge, a little bit of manual compensation is required to assist the parallel linkage action.
With what appears to be decent build quality and user-friendly operation, the Marolin M61CT is well worth a look as an alternative to big brands.
A close inspection of the machine actually reveals it uses a lot of the same components UK hedgecutters do anyway.
With some updates still to come, the machines are only set to get better. And from our short driving impressing we are struggling to find much fault with the machine - perhaps long-term use may prove otherwise.
Apart from the colour scheme, the only other off-putting thing could be back-up of the machine, although Marolin UK (Tractor Guard) says it can get parts within two to three days.
If you’re looking for farm machinery or equipment check out our partner LammaXchange’s website. With thousands of pieces of kit you’re sure to find what you’re looking for www.LammaXchange.com