Every year in Australia there are many severe grassfires that begin on our roadsides. The tall, tinder dry straw-like seeded grass is highly flammable even in the winter months.
Usually these areas lie directly below powerlines which typically follow the path of rural roads. Powerline induced grassfires contribute to hundreds of severe fires each year causing untold property damage and loss of human life. Statistically these fire events are becoming more common particularly as summers prove to be hotter and drier each year and powerline and road maintenance is neglected. It is an area that needs to be addressed urgently.
This disaster in waiting is largely ignored – by councils, power (powerline) authorities and property owners. Often, even if the danger is acknowledged, then the situation is often reasoned to be a risk that must be taken as there just aren’t any cost-effective solutions to address the problem! To some extent perhaps that is true; tractors with slashers are typically employed to maintain these areas, but in traditional format are actually quite ineffective at managing long grass on roadside applications. Traditional tractors are cumbersome and unable to operate effectively on slopes and tight spaces. They are also quite damaging to soft ground and lack the visibility required to effectively mow difficult terrain. For this reason, we largely see a small strip mown along country roads, but the crucial areas that are typically under powerlines and allowed to grow to dangerous heights are left (pictured on the following page).
Slashers are also a poor choice for grass control on roadsides and actually pile long grass into windrows effectively collecting the long straw into bundles of ready-made kindling. If it were not for the seriousness of grassfire in Australia which results in massive property, livestock and infrastructure losses as well as more tragically, the loss of human life, then the lack of action to address roadside grasses would almost be laughable. Almost.
Enter a highly obtainable and effective solution –The MULTIHOG and boom-arm grass flail mower
Victorian educator, businessman and entrepreneur, Ian Leonard has been so alarmed by the human tragedy and serious infrastructure and property loss resulting from fast moving grassfires which have more often than not started from long roadside grass igniting under powerlines, that he decided something really had to be done. After researching equipment that could address the task effectively he struggled to find decent options in Australia. Taking the search further afield to Europe resulted in a breakthrough; Multihog Tractors. “These incredible machines offered everything I was after” Leonard Said. “They are capable of operating in any weather and in all terrain. Their all-wheel drive, large footprint provides exceptional traction without damaging surfaces and their manueverability is second to none due to a unique centre articulation joint”. Manufactured in Ireland, Multihog are a new take on the traditional tractor. With forward controls providing exceptional visibility, a low centre of gravity providing excellent slope capability and high flow hydraulics for various attachments they are incredibly capable machines. Built very robustly they are becoming very popular across Europe, Canada and the United States for many varied applications.
Leonard was particularly taken with the boom arm flail mower attachments for the Multihog. “As a combination, this is exactly what I think would revolutionise the issues we face in rural Australia maintaining the high fire prone and hard to get at long grass edges on our roadsides and under our powerlines”. “Not only is the boom arm and the tractor able to access hard to reach terrain but the flail mowers are designed to heavily mulch the grass in to fine pieces and this actually turns it into a fire retardant material, effectively creating somewhat of a fire break as well as clearing fire fuel”.
Now that an effective solution has been found, Ian has been busily establishing a professional relationship with the Multihog manufacturer in Ireland and setting up the provision for the machinery to be imported into Australia.
He is currently working toward setting up a pilot program to demonstrate the abilities of this set up to all interested stakeholders and whilst based in South West Victoria, an interactive website with media clips demonstrating the machinery in action will be established to provide this information to anyone in Australia or worldwide.
Leonard says “now that we have an effective strategy in place we are in the process of raising capital to purchase a complete unit. This is game changing machinery and I look forward to getting it out there and taking care of a ridiculously neglected area that has resulted in the loss of too many lives”.
Please keep an eye out for Multihog in Australia and if you are interested in knowing more about the pilot program please contact Ian directly, email: [email protected]
For more information, go to www.multihog.com