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Farmer-Built Land Plane "Shapes" Wet Ground
Mark Dodd wanted a land plane to use in his soil consulting business but couldn't justify the cost of a commercial unit.
So the Hope, Ind., farmer built his own 42-ft. long unit to cut and fill low spots and to also dig drainage ditches and waterways.
The 15-ft. wide machine has a rectangular-shaped frame built of 3-in. tube steel. It's equipped with six 1/2-in. thick steel blades, mounted at a fixed 45 degree angle that cut a 15-ft. wide path. One 18-ft. finishing blade mounts on the rear and five 9-ft. blades spaced 10-ft. apart mount under the frame.
It features crab steering so the rear wheels follow front wheels for easy transport. Depth is adjustable with a hydraulic cylinder mounted on both front and back. A third cylinder mounts on the tongue to move it right or left, if necessary, in transport.
A linkage on the right side, connecting the frame to adjustable pipes, permits independently adjusting cutting depth on the right side for digging ditches.
It's fitted with four 16 by 16-in. tires that provide excellent flotation on soft ground. The machine is manually adjusted, but Dodd eventually plans to equip it with a laser mast and GPS system so it can be set to adjust itself automatically.
Cost of operation is about $12 per acre per pass, says Dodd, who pulls the rig with a 220 hp Deere 8400 MFWD tractor. Minimum hp requirement is 130 hp, he notes.
"I recently used it on about 80 acres, traveling diagonally across the field on the first pass, then going the opposite direction on the second," he says. "It improved my drainage considerably, as well as helped to take the load off my existing tile. I had pockets of water and old plow furrows in the field and both were eliminated in two passes. This was one of my wetter fields but now it's one of my driest.
"Two things I've learned are: you have to use the machine when it's perfectly dry and where there isn't much trash on the ground." Dodd says the machine works so well he turned down an offer of $15,000 for it.
Out-of-pocket expense was about $6,000, compared with some commercial machines that cost $16,000 or more.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Mark Dodd, 11931 E. 800 N., Hope, Ind. 47246 (ph 812 546-5602).

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1998 - Volume #22, Issue #5