Tanco has been busily making farm machinery for over 50 years at its home base in Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow, the Republic of Ireland. The company is best known for its range of bale wrappers, but back in 2019 it quietly moved into the mower market. When entering a new market, most companies would start off with a small machine to both test the water, and to test itself and its ability to manufacture the equipment. Tanco has taken a different route - the new mower models are full butterfly sets, which are available in either 9m or 10m versions.

The butterfly becomes a bee

An entomologist might frown at comparing them to butterflies though, for instead of the mowers' beds folding up vertically, they fold back horizontally onto a trailed frame, making them more like the wings of a bee or wasp.
Tanco beds fold back like a bee
The two mower beds fold back alongside the frame for transport
The advantages of this arrangement are manifold, according to Michael Dollard, Ireland and UK sales manager for Tanco. View the mowers in action in the video below.

More acres with less fuel

The first and most important point he makes is that of efficiency; by mounting the mower beds onto a trailed frame, the flotation characteristics are greatly improved, resulting in a reduced power requirement.
foatation of mowers
Floatation characteristics are said to be much better than a mounted unit, although standing stones are still a challenge
Along with this claim goes the assumption of reduced fuel consumption, which those already operating the mowers appear happy to confirm.

Tanco quotes one user as achieving up to 25% reduction in fuel usage as well as 50% increase in productivity.

These are impressive figures, and watching the lack of drama in the field as the beds lift out of work on the headlands, and the smooth progress when in the crop - they don't appear unreasonable.
smooth progress from Tanco M9 mower
Smooth progress in the shadow of the Knockmealdown Mountains
Having less weight hanging from the back of a tractor is also considered a plus. There is some debate as to how well tractors can cope with the stress of a fully mounted butterfly set.

Big is not always best says Tanco

Many farmers and contractors are happier with something bigger, heavier and more powerful than may actually be needed, to provide the strength and stability they feel is required. This latter point will become ever more relevant as the power density of engines increases and the power-to-weight ratio shifts in favour of lighter tractors, providing greater outputs.
Stability of Tanco mower
Stability is one bonus of the trailed arrangement
Such a development suggests that less massive tractors will be able to offer the performance required to drive a full set of mowers, with the resultant concern over stability.

Losing weight is good news

Splitting the weight of the mowers between the rear axle of a smaller tractor and an extra pair of wheels, will obviously reduce overall soil compaction. Less weight also reduces the rolling resistance of the whole unit, further increasing fuel efficiency, as does having to move less metal about the field.
Mower weight is split between tractor and tanco
The weight of the mowers is split between the tractor and trailer wheels
Adding to the attraction of the Tanco mowers is the ease and speed at which they fold for transport. It really only takes a few seconds, with none of the shaking and swaying associated with heaving the mower units into an upright position. When folding the steering system for the trailer, wheels are automatically adjusted back to ensure that the unit follows the tractor round bends, rather than shooting off the road altogether.
steering is geared up for field use
The steering system allows sharp turns on the headlands
This is the third season that the mowers have been out in the field and Michael Dollard reports a keen interest and a swelling order book. Reliability has been excellent he is happy to note, with very few problems. The major bought-in components include Commer beds and gearboxes, and Walterschied power shafts, which are one and the same company now.

Tanco branches out

Why a company well-known for its bale wrappers and sheer grabs should branch out into the mowing business, is an interesting question.

Michael Dollard explains that the concept was brought to them by another company which had considered, and then discarded the idea of producing them.

Tanco felt that they were an ideal sized firm to take them on, as they had the engineering expertise as well as the flexibility of being a medium-sized company not bound by corporate blinkers.
tanco no corporate blinkers
Tanco felt that it was the right product at the right time for the company
At present, the company does not see mowers coming to dominate its business, or any other product displace bale wrappers, 95% of which are exported. Meanwhile, these mowers are garnering a great deal of appreciative comments wherever they are demonstrated. They are seen as sitting somewhere between fully mounted butterflies units and Krone's Big M self-propelled machine.
M3 front unit
The front mounted M3 has a 3m cutting width
The mowers are available in either 9m or 10m cutting widths and cost €52,140 for the smaller, M9, unit and €58,860 for the larger, M10, set. The front unit, known as the M3, comes in at €18,860.