Reprofiling grain paddocks is leading to increased crop production

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Growers investing in their grain paddocks by levelling and reshaping for water capture or run-off are realising increased returns from production gains

Ballarat based farm and general construction earthmoving contractor Damien Pitman of Pitman Contracting has seen first-hand the higher yield benefits of a reprofiled paddock and the flood of growers interested in making the upgrade

Growers and contractors are rushing local manufacturers of earthmoving and levelling equipment to get their paddocks into pristine condition for easier operation at planting and harvest equipment.

It is a combination of factors, including the high returns of most grain crops, sound seasonal conditions, and importantly record and still rising farm land values that is filling growers with confidence.

As a result, more and more growers in every state are seeking productivity gains and the profits that will follow by reprofiling their cropping paddocks.

In southern cropping districts of Victoria especially the cropping areas of the Western District a number of growers have purchased an O’Bryan Carry Grade scraper to reprofile their paddocks.

Manufactured in Swan Hill Vic by Murray Valley Lasers with the O’Bryan Carry Grade scraper, growers are able to undertake a survey and then know just what volumes of soil they will need to shift and contour within their valuable cropping paddocks.

There are many important benefits that come with reprofiling current or future cropping paddocks.

Reprofiling is an instant winner with low-lying, often waterlogged and low yielding blocks that typical remain damp and are recognised poor yielders. With reprofiling these paddocks can be drained correctly and become high yielders instead.

Any unproductive cropping blocks will benefit from reprofiling and many growers will use the system to fix up that 10 to 20% of some paddocks that consistently show low yields, and return the area to too full production yields.

Overall drainage lines can be improved so that ponded surface water drains away quickly enabling growers to get onto their seasonal work such as sowing and spraying without any hold-ups.

And blocks that are always poor yielders such as heavily tussocked, can be reprofiling and revived to more highly reproductive levels.

Similarly, as tractor power has grown larger trailed implements like cultivation and spray gear need larger turning headlands, with reprofiling these factors are considered.

Paddocks are redesigned and reconstructed for better turning circles and made ready for a considerable time saving and cropping efficiency boost.

Contractor Damien Pitman (left) with Colin O’Bryan manufacturer of the O’Bryan Carry Grade scraper at the Murray Valley Lasers Swan Hill Vic factory prior to delivery

Linton Vic contractor Damien Pitman of Pitman Contracting has been running two O’Bryan Carry Grade 4.5 hydraulic scrapers behind his 441kW (600hp) four wheel drive tractors to reprofile numerous farm paddocks for grain croppers.

Such is the demand for his services and forward order book for dryland grain paddock reprofiling that Damien has just ordered his third O’Bryan Carry Grade 4.5 scraper and intends to run it with a recently purchased New Holland T9700 tractor with 456kW (620hp) of power to tow it.

The available power is important when working in wet ground or where large floater rocks can be encountered.

Damien explains that his first action after being engaged by a farmer is to undertake a mobile GPS survey of the paddock that it is planned to be reprofiled.

He says “the survey will invariably show a number of existing and natural slopes within the paddock, invariably some depressions and the existing drainage designs.

“At times we find five separate and natural slopes within one paddock, and this has a major effect on water flows and distribution”.

“What our survey will show us is how to interrelate these slopes, tell us the depressions that in many seasons will remain wet, ponded and therefore unproductive, and how the overall drainage design can be improved.

“And we will do a redesign and improve the headlands at the top and bottom runs of the paddock for more efficient operation of today’s larger machinery.

“We may not need to cut and fil major quantities of soil as we are just reprofiling the overall and natural shapes of the field for better water efficiency.

“My farmer clients tell us the return they achieve from higher yields from the first harvest after that paddock has been reprofiled can often be as much as a 20% increase in the volume of grain harvested.

“That makes their investment in reprofiling their paddocks an impressive return when compared with the investment in survey and earthmoving. It also has an enduring long term effect on the return from that acreage,” Damien concluded.

Colin O’Bryan the owner of Murray Valley Lasers and the manufacturer of the unique Carry Grade earthmovings scrapers says although his machines were originally built for highly accurate land levelling in flood irrigation, they now find multiple uses in accurate other land levelling or reconstruction applications.

He says there are now over one hundred O’Bryan scrapers in use throughout Australia.

For instance, multiple machines are used in the beach sand mining industry to remove, stack, and then replace topsoil at dredge mining of deposits.

In South Australia they are used for clay spreading or sandhill reshaping for increased productivity.

This is the second unit in Damien’s contracting fleet while he has a third O’Bryan scraper on the way and has ordered a New Holland T9700 tractor with 456kW (620hp) of towing power awaiting delivery in time for coming peak dryland cropping paddock reprofiling projects at the end of 2021 and early 2022

On several outback stations or large cropping farms they are used to construct major drainage systems, roadways and water storages.

Colin adds, “in the last two years we have sold our scrapers to large scale dryland farmers with high power tractors and usually quite significant acreages under grain to do their own on farm work, especially to improve drainage on dryland paddocks and to fill low lying water logged sections”.

“Damien Pitman has been a leading contractor in refining the use of our scrapers for dryland paddock reprofiling.

“He is able to quickly undertake a mobile GPS field survey that identifies the actual fall, its direction and shape of the paddock, to transform this into a paddock plan and then a recipe for the GPS guided tractor and trailed scraper to follow once it starts work in the paddock.

“Farmers like Chris Shady at Bradvale near Skipton Vic advise us that they are seeing up to 20% tonnage improvements in the paddock’s grain production and usually a significant per hectare yield gain as our O’Bryan grader scraper have a heavy duty deep ripping capacity during the reprofiling.

“This often breaks up the cap of the soil that may lay unseen and have existed for many years.

“And a benefit for the farmer is easier access to a well-drained paddock and better operation of larger implements”,

The basic function of an O’Bryan Carry Grade Scraper is a working width of 4.5 metres, a carrying capacity of 14.5 cubic metres of fill, with a hydraulic unloading and spreading capacity in the right place.

Using heavy duty steel construction and advanced hydraulics the machines are very efficient and reliable in all soil types from granitic or sandy soils to heavy loams.

And as indicated they match the increased use of high power multi wheel or track tractors.

The O’Bryan machines are manufactured to order in Swan Hill Vic and at their width are permitted for on road travel with a single pilot.

For more information contact Damien Pitman at Pitman Contracting at Linton on tel: 0459 990 734 or manufacturer Colin O’Bryan at Murray Valley Lasers at Swan Hill on tel: 03 5032 9555 or 0427 388 121, or email admin@mvlasers.com.au

See more information about the range ofO’Bryan Carry Grade scraper here.

A reprofiled paddock increases yields

This 80 hectare or 200 acre wheat cropping paddock at Brad Vale near Skipton in Victoria has been reprofiled by contractor Damien Pitman of Pitman Contracting from Linton vic.

The farmer, Chris Shady expects to see about a 20% yield increase at harvest due to the infilling of numerous wet spots and a return from unproductive patches that although they were seeded but never performed because they were unproductive depressions in the paddock.

Other benefits are the better overall drainage of surface run off so that growers can achieve earlier access to the paddock for seasonal cropping works.

The headlands at the top and bottom of the paddock runs were redesigned to enable easier turning of larger sized machinery, especially sprayers. and enable these areas also to be cropped.