Is it a ditcher — or is it a time machine?

FARGO, N.D. — In a wet year, any given quarter on Nathan Boll’s farm will see 10 to 20 percent of the acres lost to water. Some fields lose up to 50 percent.

It’s really more of a time management issue than a water management issue says Boll, who farms at Newburg, North Dakota.

Boll is located in typical prairie pothole country, about 160 kilometres south of the Canadian border. Like his neighbours in southwestern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan, drainage is a major concern.

He says it’s not simply a matter of finding a machine you like.

In talking to Boll at the Big Iron Farm Show in Fargo this fall, he says it’s more a matter of finding a machine that can cover all the acres you need to cover in the short drainage season every fall.

“We bought a rotary ditcher about five years ago. But after two years we were frustrated with the way it left our fields,” recalls Boll.

“We got the water to move off the fields pretty well, but we didn’t like the finish from the rotary. We couldn’t farm through the ditches.”

Last year he saw the V-Wing at the Big Iron show.

“When I saw it up close, I figured this machine would let us get all the acres done in a timely manner and give us the kind of quality ditch we’d been looking for.”

Boll used the V-Wing to fill in ditches previously started with the rotary ditcher.

“I know it’s counter-intuitive to think about filling in a ditch that’s already proven it drains the field. But you can move so much dirt so fast with this machine that we were better off just starting over. That lets us make a nice wide, shallow profile ditch. We build the contour the way we really want it so we can farm through the ditches.

“Ditching with the rotary and the scraper, we wasted a lot of diesel and a lot of time, especially time. The diesel is expensive, but at least it’s replaceable. Time isn’t. You never have enough time in the fall.

“We make very good use of our time now. Last year we got a late start, but we still drained a couple thousand acres. I expect we’ll do another three or four thousand this fall.”

Boll says he has a lot of potholes that were not drainable in the past, but he is concentrating on maintaining and enhancing ditches cut years ago.

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