Ditch digging soars to new depths

LANGHAM, Sask. — Indications are we’re heading into dry soil this autumn. On a slightly brighter note, this creates a window to catch up on drainage in preparation for the next wet year.

This year’s Ag in Motion field demonstrations near Saskatoon featured three different styles of drainage machines including rotary, tile and a big scraper. For producers who missed the field demos, here’s the basic rundown.

T-Rex

When hooked up behind a 300 to 600 horsepower tractor, T-Rex can throw mud as easily as it throws dry soil, so there’s no need to wait for dry conditions. Manufactured in Niverville, Man., this machine has a higher capacity than any other rotary ditcher on the market. The name T-Rex stands for Terra-Excavator, and with the ability to throw 2,000 cubic yards per hour, it stands up to its name as a machine that truly does move the earth.

The numbers say it all for T-Rex. It throws 2,000 cubic yards per hour of dry or wet soil, from a ditch up to one foot deep, uniformly spreading the soil so surface cleanup work is not necessary. With a 600 h.p. tractor, T-Rex is comfortable working at five miles per hour. The eight-foot diameter disc has ten-blades. | Ron Lyseng photo

The eight-foot diameter spinning disc has 10 blades capable of uniformly throwing soil up to 300 feet in either direction, thus eliminating the need for tillage to create a smooth surface. The driveline clutch is a Walterschild with CV joints as an over-running clutch. When operating at a depth of six to 12 inches, T-Rex can run at five mph. The machine is fully GPS compatible. T-Rex lists for US$40,000.

O’Connell

According to KNR ag, a pull-type tile plow eliminates the expense and hassle of outfitting a dedicated tile tractor. Located in Brunkild, Man., KNR handles the O’Connell pull-type dual-link tile plow, in both the six and seven foot models. They say hooking up to lay tile is a matter of dropping the pin, hooking up hydraulics and electrics, and go tiling. The dual link tiler accepts tile from three-inch up to 12-inch diameter, and works down to 85 inches deep.

Pull type tile ditchers eliminate the need for a dedicated tile tractor and are generally more cost-effective. The O’Connell Dual Link Swivelling boots on the O’Connell dual control system allows tiling on the contour. The operator uses lift for elevation control and pitch for slope control. | Ron Lyseng photo

Swivelling boots on the O’Connell dual control system allows tiling on the contour. The operator uses lift for elevation control and pitch for slope control. The shank fractures the ground so more soil falls back into the trench immediately after the till. This creates less of a mess and less work than other plow designs that push the soil too far away from the centre of the trench.

Elmer’s

Elmer’s Wolverine serves a dual role, working as a 62-inch scraper blade capable of cutting smooth tapered edges, while at the same time working as a rotary ditcher capable of throwing dirt 150 feet either left or right. The combination of the blade and disc allows smooth wide ditches that are easily farmed through because of gentle side slopes, absence of a lip and the fact that there’s no soil build-up out beyond the edge.

Elmer’s Wolverine serves two purposes, simultaneously working as a scraper that cuts and shapes the ditch, and a rotary disc ditcher that throws soil 150 feet either left or right. | Ron Lyseng photo

The secret to far-flung dirt is the kicker shaft that busts up dirt clods before they reach the blower. Elmer’s says feeding finer dirt into the blower increases disc efficiency by as much as 50 percent. If a rock or large object becomes lodged in the kicker shaft, the auto clutch stops the power and allows the operator to reverse to clear it out, then reset without leaving the cab. Wolverine comes standard with a 375 horsepower driveline clutch and is GPS compatible with all water management hardware.

V-Wing

The V-Wing is designed to create wide gradual ditches easily traversed with farm equipment. The V-Wing blade was designed to support a radical concept developed by Swan River, Man., farmer Jeff Penner who says the wing is key to changing the way we do field drainage. His idea is that a barely visible ditch allows gradual water movement off the field, thus allowing infiltration in drier spots and eliminating erosion.

The V-Wing is an assembly of blades and hydraulic cylinders capable of performing intricate soil moving operations. One feature in particular plays into the slow flow concept. The V-Wing requires highly accurate GPS RTK for automatic slope control. Instead of being tied to a straight-line ditch, automatic slope control keeps the blades at the correct cutting depth and angle as the operator follows a zigzag path from pothole to pothole, heading toward the ultimate destination, producing a uniform slope the length of the ditch.

Hurricane 24

The first Hurricane pull-type rotary ditcher appeared in 1982. The model 24 demonstrated at AIM may appear to be small in comparison to other rotary ditchers at the show, but it’s capable of throwing 18 cubic yards per minute, or 1,080 cubic yards per hour, to a distance of 100 feet when pulled by a 140 h.p. tractor. A terracing shield can be installed to place the soil in a windrow parallel to the ditch. The model 24 throws dirt only out the left side.

When coupled to a 140 h.p. tractor, the Hurricane 24 can throw 1,080 cubic yards per hour, to a distance of 100 feet. The Hurricane Model 24 utilizes a 36-inch digging wheel with four T1 steel paddles, each with a 24-inch cutting edge. Paddles and edges are easily replaced. The digger lists for US$16,650. | Ron Lyseng photo

The Model 24 has a 36-inch digging wheel with four T1 steel paddles, each with a 24-inch cutting edge. Hydraulic depth control uses the rear wheels to maintain grade and to give a smooth, flat bottom to the ditch. Telescoping axles on the rear wheels allow easier straddling of ditches and increases the machine’s stability when using it with the terracing shield. The Model 24 is laser adaptable for more precise grade control. The gearbox uses an enclosed double #80 roller chain running in an oil bath, with an external idler adjustment to maintain proper chain tension. The model 24 carries a list price of US$16,650.

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