These machines are unique from previous verticutters in that the blades are set in an offset circular pattern that is similar to the shape of the blades on a reel mower. As such, instead of just cutting grooves in the turf like a traditional vertical blade, it can cleanly remove all of the surface to the desired depth of the turf manager.
These units are now being used around the world for a variety of turfgrass management applications. In addition to their effectiveness at maintaining organic matter levels in turf surfaces, they have also been shown to effectively remove weed seeds from the soil, reduce diseases associated with thatch or organic matter, and can be an important tool for renovation projects.
The process of surface removal of plant material and thatch has been commonly called “fraze mowing” by turfgrass managers and the companies associated with the machines. We currently have a USGA-funded project at the University of Arkansas and the University of Tennessee where we are looking at combining fraze mowing with herbicides to improve the effectiveness of Bermudagrass eradication. During the 2018 research season, I Tweeted a photo of our “fraze-mowed” plots and a friend of mine, Kevin Hicks from Idaho, corrected me and said it is spelled “fraise.” While I do not like to admit mistakes to Kevin (another story for another day), I am certainly capable of misspelling a word, so I looked it up and what I found surprised me. I could find four different spellings of the word – fraize, fraise, fraze or frase – in product literature and on the internet. In addition, I could not find anyone who could tell me what the word “fraze” means, regardless of its spelling. I assumed it had some root meaning in the Dutch language, but Google Translator was not giving me any leads. As such, I started working my way through the Campey USA distributors and eventually my question made it all the way back to Ko Rodenburg. Here was his response through an Imant employee:
“It is actually a Dutch word ‘Freesmaaien’ that Ko made up and it is a word composition between ‘Frezen’ and ‘maaien’ which means rotovating (tilling with a rototiller) and mowing. Frezen is then directly translated to fraise + mowing or fraze + mowing. He doesn’t even know how it is written.”
OK, since the inventor is not sure how to spell it, I am going to go out on a limb and propose that it is spelled “fraise” in future publications. When reading the product literature from Campey and Imants, this seems to be the most common spelling they have used, even though they even have some inconsistencies in the spelling. In addition, they define fraise mowing as “when the machine is set to remove only herbage from the top of the pitch.” As such, deeper removal of plant material and underlying soil may not technically be referred to as fraise mowing.
So here you have it in a nutshell – fraise mowing is a combination of rotovating and mowing with the goal to remove the green herbage from a turf surface.
I would like to offer a special thanks to Sam Green, President of AQUA-AID Solutions, the North American distributor and importer for the Campey/Imants product line, for passing my questions back through their corporate channels.
Dr. Mike Richardson is a professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University or Arkansas.