Test: Vigolo Eagle-DT
Heavy-duty mulching is all in a day’s work for the Vigolo Eagle-DT
The importance of a heavy-duty, good quality mulcher should never be underestimated. This was evident when we visited the Far North to see the Vigolo Eagle-DT in action, transforming land littered with sizeable amounts of mature gorse, tobacco weed trees, and other ‘rubbish’ and making it useable for planting maize.
The company Vigolo was founded in 1963 by Luigi Vigolo right at the time agricultural machinery was taking off in Italy, and Vigolo wanted a slice of the pie. Luigi and his wife are still involved in the company today, which offers an extensive line-up of cultivation and mulching equipment in hot demand around the world.
While the machine is Italian-designed and built, on this side of the world, Agriline are the sole importer of the brand and have added their design requirements specific to the New Zealand market.
Based in Dargaville for their North Island branch, Agriline also has a branch in Gore to ensure it services the South Island, so the distributor practically covers the length of the country. Agriline also imports various cultivation machines, sprayers, and beet handling equipment, but our visit was all about the Vigolo heavy-duty mulcher range. These machines are well proven in New Zealand with somewhere between 200 and 300 of them in the country now.
The Vigolo Eagle-DT 2.5m heavy-duty machine has several key features that make it durable enough to tackle 15+-year-old tobacco weed trees and large gorse plants yet is also flexible enough to then go and mulch a paddock of Kikuyu.
Machine owner Dave Polglaze has been in Kaikohe (mid-Northland) after the big shift north from the Taranaki more than 25 years ago. The opportunities are plenty in Northland, and Dave and his family have had great success with leasing blocks of land off people who have let them go – mulching them, growing maize, and turning it back into productive land. As a result, Dave has used many different mulchers over the years, so knows a thing or two about durability and performance.
Northland is a unique place, where kikuyu runs rampant because of the almost tropical climate. That climate was nowhere to be seen on the day we visited, with a polar blast defying my tropical description. For the kikuyu to be palatable and efficient at either producing milk or putting weight on cattle, it needs to be well managed.
The best way to do this is to keep it in its lush, leafy growing state with something like a mulcher. This has been well proven with various trials at a Northland dairy demonstration farm, with a multi-year study showing that mulched kikuyu and imported supplements such as palm kernel could produce as much milk per cow and per hectare as ryegrass and palm kernel.
This shows that the kikuyu is not the noxious over growing weed that most people associate with the front lawn on the beach batch. Instead, you need to harness this fast-growing grass, get out the mulcher, and get stuck into some of that marginal land to make it become more productive.
Rotor and drive
The large 273mm diameter rotor is the heart of this machine, creating a huge amount of inertia combined with the four belt per side double drive. This rugged durability allows it to mulch grass in the morning and then get into the grunty stuff in the arvo.
The 135hp tractor we had on the front was obviously a great size partner for the machine. The large rotor is a bit like the old drum mower: once it gets going, it sort of runs itself. Because of the speed and size of the rotor, this is great for going into this size timber. You obviously need the power of the tractor, but also because the drum being so large, a huge amount of energy is created at 1800rpm, providing outstanding results that were clearly visible.
There was no magic of TV editing in the video or photos folks, to the point where Dave himself had never used this machine in timber this large and was simply blown away with the results (which speaks volumes in itself).
Rotor protection plates do exactly that. As the triple Y flails are chewing that timber up, these blocks save the flails denting and chewing into the drum. These blocks will wear out eventually, but the flails are naturally going to need to be replaced also. The rotor is the expensive part here, so if you can look after that in this hard going, these simple blocks offer great long-term protection.
Great features keep coming with the Vigolo mulcher. Large steel skids provide height adjustment and are also heavy-duty enough to not get knocked around in the tough going. They are also gusseted, which allows you to move timber around, push trees over on an angle, or generally just guard the machine against the tough stuff.
I thought the build quality all-round on the Vigolo was outstanding. It weighs in at 1450kg empty, which goes to show the amount of steel in the machine.
The large rear roller (with scraper) is great for bulldozing. Combined with the heavy-duty lid (which is 5ml steel and much heavier than a lot of its competitors), this allows you to push the tree over, do a first pass while it’s been pushed, run the mulcher over it, then forward again to create workable size woodchip. This can then be easily cultivated and breaks down quickly in the ground for farmers like Dave who want to use this fertile ground as an area to grow crops. For this rugged work, either the optional hydraulic rear door or forestry bar would have been a welcome addition to further protect the machine and manage the size of the chip.
Other features worth mentioning
Nice additional features include heavy-duty stands for when the machine is not on the tractor. Combined with a large hook to keep the PTO shaft off the ground and out of harm’s way, this also made it easy to grease the shaft.
Speaking of greasing, there are external grease nipples for the bottom bearings, on the rotor tucked out of harm’s way up front. This is a great feature because if you had to take those guards off all the time, the grease nipples would either not get done at the recommended intervals or possibly at all.
It’s also worth noting the confidence the manufacturer and distributor have in the brand, offering an industry-leading 2–3–4 warranty: two years full cover including belts, three years on roller bearings, and four years on the rotor.
Standout features for me are the overall build quality and impressive results in what would be considered tough going for a multipurpose mulcher, not a forestry spec machine. Big timber or simple grass mulching is all in a day’s work for the Vigolo Eagle-DT. Dave has been around mulchers for more than 20 years so knows a thing or two about what’s required in the tough volcanic Northland soil, which can often have hidden stones and the not-so-hidden large tobacco and gorse buses. The Vigolo got rave reviews from him, and from all accounts, the service from Agriline has been second-to-none so, all round it’s a win-win.
Vigolo Eagle-DT specifications
|Flails||Triple Y flails (hammers optional)|
- Large 273mm diameter rotor
- Dual drive, 4 belts on each side
- Double row of front chains
- Heavy-duty construction
- Triple Y flail
- Rotor protection plates
- Wide skids standard
- Large rear roller
- 1000 PTO speed for greater momentum
- Adjustable rear door, great
- for maintenance and spread pattern
- Dave was going to take the digger to the bigger trees, but a forestry bar would be in order for this type of going