Frequently asked Questions


Should I have my property surveyed before leveling?

Yes, the survey provides a road map for the equipment to follow. It can save a considerable amount of money in wasted time and eliminate the chances of unexpected grade changes as the project progresses. If the slopes are known and the slope is consistent across the entire field, then a survey might not be necessary. Current survey programs can add a great benefit to cost analysis and functionality of the ground before any work is performed or money is spent.

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What slope should I use when leveling?

The slope requirements can vary somewhat, depending on crop, run length, soil type and equipment to be used. The most common slope is .15’ of fall per 100’ of run length. Most permanent crops require a much flatter slope to increase water penetration. Inversely, vegetable crops in clay loams could require an increase in slope. Leveling with lasers, or GPS control, will provide a much more accurate finish and could allow for a flatter slope versus leveling by visual references. The most common run length for uniform water penetration is 1250’.

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Should I be concerned about the side slope?

Yes, when planting crops that require basin irrigation. Alfalfa is the most common crop affected by side slope. Border distances can vary on harvest equipment, but typically are 30’, 60’, and 80’. If the side slope is drastic, then wide border distances can’t be used. Water will follow the side slope and run to only one side of the check instead of spreading across the full check. Wider border spacing increases yields and decreases labor for irrigation. Side slopes below .10’ per 100’ is generally acceptable for most basin irrigation systems.

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When should I rip the ground when leveling?

Always rip the soil after the leveling is complete. Although leveling equipment’s load is well distributed across several sets of tires, it can still compact the surface and impact the initial germination of seed. Sometimes heavy cuts and fills are necessary to level the ground. In these cases, it may take a touch up or re-finish after the ground has been ripped. The cuts will continue to expand and the fills will continue to settle, creating an uneven surface after a few irrigations. This scenario is unavoidable and most economic to simply re-enter the property and float the surface back to design grades.

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Can I run a land plane after leveling to prep for planting?

Preferably not; landplaning the field is supposed to help fill minor humps and holes on an uneven surface. After leveling is complete there will be no humps or holes. Therefore, most operators try to find the dirt to cut and the holes to fill which can cause more harm than good. The operator creates the holes and humps through his effort to operate the machine.

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If I am installing drip systems, will I need to do any land leveling?

Only if there are any significant holes that will pond water during Spring or Summer rains. An unexpected rain might drain off of 90% of the field, but remain in a few isolated low areas. This creates problems for equipment re-entry. The field may be ready to spray or till, but can’t because of a couple of small areas that pond water. This problem can perpetuate itself as growers are eager to get back into the field. Tractors will traverse through the only wet spot, which further compacts a larger area and creates an even larger low spot. This problem can become very difficult to remedy in permanent plantings. Most properties should at least be reviewed prior to any significant investments.

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