Monday, July 18, 2016

Making the grade

So after making mistakes with previous tillage (which I talk about in this blog entry) I'm using a land-leveling device to make my field smooth and level.
The green and yellow thing is the land level device
So you plow up your land to loosen the soil and make it easier to scrape and move.  There's a laser on a tripod that isn't visible in the photo (it's a few hundred feet away) and there's a laser receiver on the top of the post (you can see a cord going up to it.  When the device sees that you are going above or below the laser it'll adjust the blade and basically what you do is drive in circles until the ground is level, and then move on.
broken and welded laser reciever post
 The post that holds the laser receiver broke, (you can see it broken in the picture with the tractor) and I had to bring it in and weld it.  I had a piece of rebar laying around, so used it to reinforce the original pipe.  This pic is before painted it.  My welding skills are farm-capable but not pretty.
the next problem I had was a hydraulic leak on the leveling cylinder.  Wasn't sure what the problem was, so took the whole thing apart and inspected it.  The valve is pretty interesting.  Just a pair of electromagnets, and inside the valve there's a little metal tab that slides back or forth based on the magnet.
since I wasn't sure where the problem was, i had the whole thing apart, but it turned out that it was an O ring failure
you can see the rubber o ring bulging out in the picture above.  the post that the electromagnet mounts on got loose, unscrewed a little, and  the pressure of the fluid forced the O ring out and eventually broke it.
this device works pretty well as long as you're dealing with a difference in elevation of about 16".  Bigger than that and the receptor on the blade loses contact with the laser and the blade freezes in the last position.  So I dealt with that by doing smaller moves.
to level 5 with a + or - 6" diffrence took about 20 hours of tractor time.  That seems like a lot, but this only has to be done once - EVER - so while it's a little slower than I would like, it's done.  I was able to see the level the next time it rained - the water didn't pool anywhere, just made a very flat pool when it rained hard, and then soaked in straight down.

I'm using it to make level fields, but it can be used to make two-axis grades by adjusting the sending laser.  So you can have a field that is flat in one direction but has a slope in another.

The operation was relatively easy, and I'm pretty happy with the final result.  The fields are flat and smooth.

I have a few hundred yards of composted manure that I'll be dumping on this field and then using this same laser level device to spread it evenly over the entire area.  I'll put down 1" of manure using the same laser technique as with dirt.


Steve said...

Isn't this so nice compared to walking the field with a construction level? I grew up doing this with my father. We would layout a grid of stakes and hubs every 100 feet. Then one person would "shoot" the levels of each hub and another person would walk from stake/hub to stake/hub. Then back home to mathematically calculate the elevation of each stake/hub. Painting each spot as a "grade, fill or cut" followed so the final work of the dozer and scraper could be done.

I help a friend set up a rig similar to yours to level a baseball field before planting. So much nicer. Thank you for the reminders.

Bruce King said...

the only thing I wish was that it was faster, but sometimes it takes time to do it right.

I did do a rough survey of the ground to get an idea of what the finished average grade would be; set up the laser and then used a survey stick to make measurements around various points. did the average and then set the laser level an inch below that so that I could have some extra dirt to work with.

This would actually make a very nice baseball field. Or concert field, now. flat is good for all sorts of things.