Husqvarna, Kew

Husqvarna celebrates one year partnership with Kew Gardens

A year on and horticulturists at the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew (RBG) continue to enjoy the benefits of the gardens’ partnership with robotic mower manufacturer Husqvarna, who teamed up with Kew in 2023 to install three commercial robotic lawn mowers – two Husqvarna Automower® 550 EPOS robotic mowers and one Husqvarna Automower® 535AWD robotic mower.

A Husqvarna Automower® 550 EPOS mower was also installed at Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex. Since then, the team has been able to overcome multiple challenges they previously faced using traditional machinery and see for themselves the benefits that robotics can have on quality, professional turf care.

Overseeing the partnership at Kew is Simon Toomer, Curator of Living Collections at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: “We have really seen the benefits robotics have brought to RBG, Kew over the past year, and the team has definitely embraced the change. Making the transition has provided a lot more consistency in terms of the grassland and lawn management in the different areas we’ve been running them in,” he says.

“Before our partnership, one of our biggest barriers was achieving that continuous and consistent cut. We’re always looking for ways in which we can make better use of our horticulturists’ time, so Husqvarna’s robotics felt like a no-brainer.

“Mowing grass is a highly important task and it’s a skill in itself. Finding machines that could do that, freed up time for our horticulturalists to be doing things like collection auditing, collections maintenance and development, and planting new plants. Mechanisation has been very welcome to us.

“In some of the areas, it has also allowed more planning in terms of long and short grass which is a huge benefit. So much so, the person who plans can now define exactly what they want from the mowers and then it just gets done. So, for example, when we’ve got the machines running in the Temperate House, it means that we’ve got that consistent and continuous pattern ready.

“The introduction of electric mowers is also supporting our Sustainability Strategy, which is great, as decarbonisation plays a large role in our 2030 strategy.”

Husqvarna and RBG Kew both share ambitious sustainability goals, and the introduction of electric autonomous mowers has significantly reduced carbon emissions when compared to petrol counterparts that were previously used, as well as reducing cost and noise emissions.

Simon adds: “Our visitors are really interested, and we have the mowers on our interpretation boards, so we’ve had a lot of people asking us about the partnership as well as about the sustainability and biodiversity aspects. Visitors are also keen to know whether they can be used in domestic gardens which is great as we can explain the benefits that can also be experienced by consumers in their own gardens.”

Husqvarna has been thrilled with the progress of the partnership with RBG Kew. Yvette Henshall-Bell, President of Husqvarna Forest & Garden Division adds: “It’s been a privilege to work closely with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew as such a respected horticultural institution, and it’s great to know the benefits that we have been able to offer the horticulturists working hard to maintain one of the most diverse living collections in the world.

“As an organisation, we also share a strong commitment to sustainability and it’s rewarding to hear how we have helped RBG Kew work towards their decarbonisation goals. There are so many advantages of autonomous technology for all corners of the professional turf management industry, so it’s fantastic to be able to showcase this daily at RBG Kew.”

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