JAY — A new research project at the West Florida Research and Education Center in Jay is examining the quality of grass cut with a robotic mower.

The study, according to a press release from the Santa Rosa County Extension Office, aims to determine whether the quality of St. Augustine grass can be improved by continuous mowing with a robotic mower. The robot will cut the grass at 2.4 inches rather than the traditional mowing height of 3.5 inches, removing only a third of leaf blade material per pass by the robotic mower.

The mower being tested is the Miimo manufactured by Honda, the press release said. That particular model mows and charges on its own and can mow up to 0.37 acres on one charge. It can mow in three programmable cutting patterns: directional, random or mixed. The study is using the random cutting pattern.

The mower’s three, two-sided blades are mounted on a circular head that can rotate both clockwise and counter-clockwise. The head automatically switches between clockwise and counter-clockwise rotation to reduce wear on the blades. A buried guide wire is installed on the perimeter of the lawn to serve as a boundary.

Officials at the center said the plots cared for by the robotic mower look promising. The blades are much finer than those found on a common rotary mower, so they cut more cleanly and tear the grass blades less often than a rotary mower.