The OTC agriculture department isn’t cooking with gas. Instead, they are cutting with it.
The program recently accepted a new propane-powered, zero-degree turn commercial mower that will allow students to study the properties of propane-powered mowers along with learning about efforts to make such landscaping work more environmentally friendly.
The mower, valued at more than $11,000, was donated from the Missouri Propane Education and Research Council. According to program director Rob Flatness, the college will be in line to receive a new mower every two years.
The college also is receiving two standalone engines along with conversion kits to learn how to connect propane to them.
“The engines and mower give students the opportunity to work with alternative fuels. There’s nothing to be afraid of when working with them. It will dispel a lot of myths,” Flatness said.
The program uses the machine to cut a section of grass on the college’s Springfield campus from National Avenue west to Hampton Avenue.
Flatness said there are myths that propane won’t deliver power equal to a gasoline- or diesel-driven mower.
“The propane mower is a good alternative to what is used now,” Flatness said. “It performs on a par with gasoline. It cost $1.50 a gallon for propane and gas is in the $3 neighborhood. Eventually, more will be turning to propane.”
In addition to lower costs, a propane-powered mower produces less harmful carbon emissions, offers easy on-site refueling options and is fueled by a source that is abundant in the U.S.
“This is a cutting-edge machine,” Flatness said. “It can run longer between oil changes and the oil doesn’t look worn out when it’s changed. It’s golden and clean.”
Students who took the first rides on the machine were impressed.
“It’s comfortable. It’s nice,” said Steve Harris of Fair Play. “It’s comparable power-wise to a gasoline machine.”
Clayton Smith-Miller of Springfield said the mower drove as well as a gasoline-powered machine.
“It handled great. It was more sensitive,” he said.
Steve Koehler is the coordinator of media relations at Ozarks Technical Community College.
College Director of Communications
Coordinator of Media Relations
Phone: (417) 447-2666