Are Robotic Mowers Cheaper Overall?



Robotic mowers can help landscapers increase their bottom lines while delivering healthier lawns for customers, according to a white paper released recently by STIHL Inc. and 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 included:

  • The iMOW robotic mower costs came in at $41 to mow an acre over a growing season, which reflected the cost of electricity.
  • 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 cost about $760 for twice-weekly mowing and $380 for once-per-week mowing.
  • 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.

The STIHL iMOW White Paper is available for download here.

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