Virginia Beach, Va. — Robotic mowers help landscapers increase their bottom lines while delivering healthier lawns for customers, according to a white paper released by STIHL Inc. based on research findings by the Virginia Tech Turfgrass Research Center.
Over the 2018 and 2019 mowing seasons, the Virginia Tech Turfgrass Research Center compared the performance of the STIHL iMOW RMI 422 P robotic mower against a conventional gasoline-powered self-propelled push mower on mixed cool-season turfgrass.
Key findings include:
- In fuel and labor costs, the iMOW saves money.*
- The iMOW robotic mower costs came in at $41 to mow an acre over a growing season, reflecting the cost of electricity.
- Comparatively, energy costs for conventional mowing were $50 for twice-weekly mowing, and $25 for once-per-week mowing.
- When labor costs are incorporated at current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, push mowing would cost about $760 for twice-weekly mowing and $380 for once-per-week mowing.
- iMOW promotes healthier lawns even in drought conditions.
- Turf plots maintained by iMOW had better or equal turf quality to those maintained by push mowers, including plots that didn’t receive supplemental fertilization or irrigation.
- Turf plots maintained by iMOW recovered more quickly from drought events. During the recovery period in August 2018, iMOW-cut plots consistently reflected higher healthy grass scores than plots maintained by conventional mowers.
- Turf quality increased when robotic mower treatments increased, possibly showing benefit that mowing frequency can affect stressed grass recovery.
For professional landscapers, robotic mowers represent the new frontier, offering a tool that is easy to add to a current equipment fleet with seamless implementation in the field. The STIHL iMOW delivers performance and precision with a host of intelligent features, including automatically adjusting to terrain and relying on sensors to navigate obstacles. AT&T LTE connectivity allows users to monitor and control the iMOW via a smartphone, tablet or web browser. Intelligent charging and scheduling allow the mower to complete work regardless of weather interruptions and without the hassle of manually plugging in to charge.
*Gasoline $2.49/gal, $0.1083/KWH, minimum wage labor $7.25/hr. Estimate does not reflect retail, installation costs or maintenance costs for equipment.