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Drainage plough specifications

Model: Mastenbroek 40/20i

Weight: 30 tonnes

Pipe dimensions: 60mm, 80mm, 100mm or 160mm

Maximum working depth: 1.8m

Engine: 428hp, Stage V, Volvo Penta

Fuel tank: 700 litres

Blade: Double parallelogram with slew and tilt control

Grade control: Laser or RTK GPS

Track length: 6.4m

Overall length: 13.1m

Width: 2.98m

Price: (including Trimble GPS) £420,000

Check your drains

Where farms invested heavily in drainage during the grant schemes in the 1980s, infrastructure is now up to 40 years old and may now be starting to fail, Mr Burtonshaw says. “Farms are trying a number of soil improvement techniques such as using cover crops. While you are seeing improved soil structure, if the land still lies wet, it is time to revisit the drainage.”

 

Maintaining ditches and outlets is the first course of action, he suggests. “Dig the ditches and find the outlets – this will often solve the problem. We can bypass or repair a blockage where a drain has collapsed which can make a real difference, taking the field back into profit again. But if there are multiple blockages, repair costs will be too high and a new installation is needed.”

 

Mr Burtonshaw says that as drainage installations were done on a huge scale in the 19th century and more followed in the grant-funded years of the 20th century, there is little farmland which does not have a drainage scheme. “It is just a matter of finding it. Documentation may be on old plans or evidence of outlets can be found in the field itself,” Mr Burtonshaw says. “A drainage contractor’s experience of reading the lie of the land will usually indicate where the drains are.”

 

The signs can often be seen in the field. In spring, crop growth will be strongest along the drainage lines. “Google Earth is another good resource, especially as you can search images of a particular field at different times of year or in different parts of the rotation,” Mr Burtonshaw adds.

 

He suggests that farmers look at which fields or parts of fields that can benefit the most from drainage. “Sometimes draining one small area can improve the performance of the whole field and take that crop back into profit."

 

Drainage can give dramatic results, he points out. “We have one customer who purchased a grass farm which he is converting to arable and he has 20-30ha drained per year. Fields which were sodden and had standing water in them become productive and green by the time we return the following year.”

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