Ideal for land clearing, vegetation management, and utility or roadside maintenance, a drum mulcher serves a variety of needs from maintaining agricultural property and mitigating the spread of invasive species to infrastructure development and right-of-way clearing. But how do you know which drum attachment is right for the job at hand?
Drum mulchers get their name from their cylindrical, drum-like shape. These lean, heavy-duty mulchers attach to skid-steers and shred small trees and brush with a forward spinning motion – a quality that makes them great options for quick brush and undergrowth removal. There are two common types of drum mulchers – depth control and open. Understanding the distinct functions, features and intended applications for each will enable you to determine the best attachment for your land management needs.
Depth control vs. open drum
From a cutting standpoint, depth control and open drum mulching attachments are offered in varying widths for tackling different sized jobs. Diamond Mowers, for instance, offers both depth control and open drum options with 60” and 72” cutting widths with the power to efficiently process small trees, brush, and undergrowth up to 9” in diameter. Both attach easily to virtually any skid-steer or compact track loader and are compatible with different types of mulching teeth, allowing users to interchange for various applications while maintaining drum balance. The key differences between depth control and open drum mulchers lie in their operation and applications.
Depth control and open drum mulchers differ in how they process material. The Diamond depth control drum features a helical tooth pattern, modeled after a vacuum brush, that feeds material toward the center of the drum, while depth control rings limit bite size for optimal infeed. The processing chamber is shaped to effectively mulch on the first pass, limiting the need for back-dragging. The drum is optimized for sharp steel teeth and mulch is created when those teeth first engage the materials. The depth control rings work in conjunction with the teeth to give the operator control of the cutting action, making it a great option for processing larger material.
An open drum mulcher is better suited for applications involving smaller material and greater ground interaction. This attachment engages the entire surface of the tool at ground level for larger bites and maximum productivity. Its carbide teeth also make it ideal for tackling rough, rocky terrain. Diamond’s newest model, the Drum Mulcher OD Pro X, offers a hybrid design that fuses performance features of depth control and open drum mulchers into one versatile attachment.
Primarily used for large-scale brush clearing, undergrowth removal, and vegetation management where there is limited ground contact, depth control mulchers excel at taking down larger material. Depth control mulchers are also masters at processing hard or fibrous wood such as bamboo or palm because their sharp teeth make them more efficient than open drum models. By limiting the bite size, these models create a finer mulch, which makes them a great choice for landscaping and other jobs where aesthetics are a factor. They also work well for pasture reclamation, residential retention, and pond maintenance.
Made for a wide range of heavy-duty mulching applications, an open drum mulcher is your best bet for land clearing for agricultural use and infrastructure development, vegetation management and habitat restoration. Because it gathers and takes in entire pieces of vegetation, it is most productive on smaller materials and is a good choice for applications where significant ground contact is expected or when mixing mulch into the soil. This drum is also preferred for applications where the attachment may take some abuse, such as pasture maintenance, creating defensible space around mountain properties, and use in rental fleets.