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Trying to Decide on the First Piece of Heavy Farm Equipment  RSS feed

 
Posts: 25
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After spending a few days walking our new property and talking with my neighbor I have a high-level plan for the new property and it’s clear I am going to need some equipment but I’m not sure what to get and in what order.  When all said and done, we will end up with 60 acres of hay/gain field, 60 acres of pasture, a few acres of orchard/windbreak trees, and 20 acres of dryland wildlife terrain.

Priority Tasks
Clean out the main drainage ditch – Based on my discussion with the neighbor to the west, virtually no work has been done on the property in the last 20 years and the silted drainage system combined with a badly implemented culvert has led to waterlogging and flooding.  The solution will be to dig out the bottom portion of the ditch (which is 4 or 5 feet wide) to a depth of 4 feet to effectively act as a runoff pond.
New Fences and Gates – Every bit fencing on the property needs overhauling or replacement.  The cattle that have been grazing on the land have had free reign of the place, including the buildings and steep slopes that are undergoing heavy erosion.  This will include pounded in fence posts and cemented gate posts.

Long Term Tasks
Pond construction/repair
Building/Repairing irrigation ditches
Installing the septic/leach field for the main house and guest cottage
Pier foundation for the guest cottage
Disking the hay fields to remove greasewood (apparently, that's the best way without herbicide)
Installing drainage tile in the hay fields
Swales and terraces for the orchard
Planting shelter beds and associated earthwork
Erosion control projects  
Geothermal Greenhouse build

I had originally planned on getting a tractor with a backhoe loader but given the amount of earthwork needed I was thinking a mini-excavator might be a better choice.  I can push in the fence posts, get an auger attachment for the gate posts, the treads will allow me to work in the muddy drainage field to clean out the ditches, and eventually put the drainage tile in the hay field.  Then get a tractor at a later date without the need to worry about a backhoe attachment.
A skid loader is another option that always has use around the farm but I feel like there are more tractors with loader attachments.  Does anyone have any thoughts?

Conversely, I could just get a used UTV and hire out the drainage ditch work and get earthmoving equipment at a later date but with the accelerated depreciation in the current tax plan, it seems like it might be a good idea.
 
Alex Arn
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To add some context, this will be a multi-year project with work happening a few weeks at a time for the next several years.  It will be at least 7 years before we are onsite full-time.
 
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It sounds like the first piece of equipment you need is a tractor. Preferably one with a front load bucket and back hoe attachment.
 
pollinator
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An awful lot of the listed stuff seems like an excavator would do it best... maybe you don't need a tractor for several years?
 
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I have always had a backhoe as the #1 piece of equipment. Very versatile . Especially with all of the earthworks you will be doing. Just be sure to get one with good hydraulic hoses or be prepared to replace them.
 
pollinator
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Alex,

I can see your dilemma.  At present you do have a lot of excavator tasks.  A tractor with backhoe would work, but a dedicated excavator would be better and take less time to finish your numerous jobs.

Have you considered renting an excavator to get a good chunk of your tasks done?  The reason I ask is that I think any task you do with an excavator would be doable with a tractor with backhoe.  Excavators are expensive and once your tasks are done, what will you do with it?  An excavator is sort of a 1 trick pony.  It does that trick very well, but that is all it does.

A tractor on the other hand is a jack-of-all trades and also the master of several.  The loader is infinitely useful.  Much of what you want to clear out could probably be done with a loader and bucket.  A box blade or grader blade will help you smooth out anything you dig up.  You of course can mow and do numerous other tasks with a tractor you just can’t do with an excavator.

I think my point is obvious by now, but this is your property and your money so do what you think is appropriate.

Please don’t hesitate to ask further questions if you have them.

Eric
 
pollinator
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I would rent or hire an excavator and buy a tractor.  A road grader might work best on the ditch. The township road boards here will hire them out, Ive heard.
 
Dillon Nichols
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If you can find a contractor with an underutilized machine, renting can work out pretty affordable.

I think of my excavator as more of a three trick pony... it digs holes or ditches, it is amazing for clearing thick broom or handling logging debris, it fells trees, removes stumps, grades with a chunk of steel...it carries rocks that the tractor can't handle.. it makes a great crane for things that are out of the tractors weight range, and it will go through worse terrain in a pinch.

If my tractor was 100hp like the excavator, instead of 50, some of these differences would fade... but most wouldn't...

I decided to take the higher risk approach and bought old cheapish equipment; I'm banking on getting more work per dollar than renting, with the downsides being a substantial amount of time invested in repairing/learning to repair the equipment, and the risk of a critical component failure potentially doubling the cost or writing off the whole machine..

A backhoe can do *most* of what an excavator can. I've seen an ex200 build a bridge fit for logging trucks, out of lock-blocks and two old semi trailers... I think a good sized backhoe could have done everything except placing the trailers, and it would have been a fair bit slower.
 
Alex Arn
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Eric Hanson wrote:Alex,

I can see your dilemma.  At present you do have a lot of excavator tasks.  A tractor with backhoe would work, but a dedicated excavator would be better and take less time to finish your numerous jobs.

Have you considered renting an excavator to get a good chunk of your tasks done?  The reason I ask is that I think any task you do with an excavator would be doable with a tractor with backhoe.  Excavators are expensive and once your tasks are done, what will you do with it?  An excavator is sort of a 1 trick pony.  It does that trick very well, but that is all it does.

A tractor on the other hand is a jack-of-all trades and also the master of several.  The loader is infinitely useful.  Much of what you want to clear out could probably be done with a loader and bucket.  A box blade or grader blade will help you smooth out anything you dig up.  You of course can mow and do numerous other tasks with a tractor you just can’t do with an excavator.

I think my point is obvious by now, but this is your property and your money so do what you think is appropriate.

Please don’t hesitate to ask further questions if you have them.

Eric



Thanks Eric, I've been leaning that way, especially given the infrequent usage for the next few years.  I can rent out a mini-excavator for the short time periods I will be on the property and then get a better tractor when the time comes.  Thanks for the advice.
 
Alex Arn
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Thanks for everyone's thoughts.  It looks like renting an excavator is the way to go and getting a tractor with a backhoe.  I noticed the local Kubota has a 2011 Kubota L3800 Tractor with loader and backhoe for 23k so that will be the goal next year.
 
pollinator
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I am a heavy equipment operator and have experience with multiple types of equipment.

First thing to mention is skid steers are expensive for what they are capable of. Unless you have tight working space they really aren't worth it. That is where they shine. When you need the maneuverability of a small machine. Otherwise you are better off with any other machine that can do what they do but better.

Now that leaves tractor with backhoe/loader and excavator.

Yes an excavator is a good piece of equipment. I am however amazed at the over use of them for jobs that really should be done by something else.They shine at digging trenches on level ground. Really really shine at that. But after that, they start to even out with other equipment. The big reason they are so used in construction is well trenches are highly needed. But a good construction backhoe can dig trenches almost as fast and as well as an excavator. Plus with the front loader can fill that trench in a fraction of the time an excavator can. I have had races with other operators and the back hoe will win every time if it is to the finish of fill the trench back in, but the excavator will be a moment ahead in the actual trench digging.

However if the ground is not level, the backhoe with the leveling ability is so much better than an excavator. Unless you like angled trench walls that might collapse don't even try it with the excavator.

From all you described, I would choose a tractor with loader back hoe. For the price of what you would spend on an excavator you can find a pretty good tractor with backhoe and loader, since they tend to be little less costly. And yes a tractor backhoe is a jack of trades master of none. But the amount of work you have listed (and the stuff that will come up) that is exactly what you need. Something that can be flexible and do many different tasks. That loader will be a life saver the first time you need to move a pile of dirt from where it sits to 40 feet or more over to where you want it.

Definitely opt for a 4 wheel drive tractor, you will be happy you did. Look for a good PTO on the tractor, that will come in handy so many times later. I would suggest you also look for front forks for the tractor they are so useful that it is amazing they don't just come standard with any loader.

I wish you luck and hope you enjoy working the land into shape.
 
Devin Lavign
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OH I forgot to mention, when shopping for your equipment, before you buy anything make sure to figure out what brands are serviced in the area. Make sure what you buy is serviced near you by someone who knows that equipment. No fun to find out your area only works on the other brand and not the machine you have. That can lead to bad repairs, or worse having to take your equipment a long way to get fixed.
 
Eric Hanson
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Alex,

I think that is a very wise choice.  That Kubota, if in good shape, could serve you well into the future and appears well equipped at present to help you with your most immediate needs.

A thought for you going forward is to think about a possible well made grader blade.  I have ontogeny these and it is very solidly built, has both tilt and offset functions and may serve you well.

If you are still curious, let me know and I can give you more details.

Eric
 
pollinator
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Just to quickly chime in with an observation of the OP statement. Now, I'm not there to see things first hand and original posts usually don't have all the information people need to give advice, but here I go anyway.

Though many people might be really good at wanting to know what they want to do with a property, I'm not convinced that "a few days walking our new property" is enough observation to inform a detailed plan. Observation is the one thing that too many people neglect because of their desire to "get going" on their land -- especially if that includes earthworks. This usually has repercussions down the road. Having said that, I offer this:

The Kubota L3800 is a good machine and approved Kubota dealers with repair shops can be found pretty easily in most states. When operating a tractor-mounted back hoe, move much more slowly than you think you need to. I've seen people swing and stop the arm and bang the scoop way too much and that not only is hard on the articulation points, but is hard on the hydraulics. Most of the smaller tractors with mounted back hoes are not designed to the industrial tolerances as construction equipment. Put it simply, baby the machine and it will serve you well. If it's hydrostatic transmission, even better. What I loose in horsepower with an HST I gain partly back by using ag tires. I'm a fan of ag tires and not industrial tires because of the better traction and less loss of horsepower. If the 'bota you see for sale has R4 tires, you may want to save up for some new ag tires later. I also will recommend beet juice in the rear tires as ballast. As much as I love these smaller tractors, they are often a bit too light and the addition of beet juice in the rear tires is a must. Don't use other fluids, use beet juice. Your dealer should know what you're talking about. It is the only mistake I made when I purchased my small tractor. I wish I would have had them add the beet juice for ballast. Finally, the front-end loader is one of the most indispensable pieces of equipment on our homestead. My wife shared a useful insight with me one day which led me to finally buy a tractor. She said, "you know, one trip to the hospital for a broken bone or an injured back will be far more expensive that the cost of a new tractor." My tractor and FEL have saved me many hard hours of labor that I can do literally in minutes. You'll never regret having the FEL on your tractor.

Best of luck.
 
Alex Arn
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Devin Lavign wrote:

However if the ground is not level, the backhoe with the leveling ability is so much better than an excavator. Unless you like angled trench walls that might collapse don't even try it with the excavator.



Thanks, Devin, that is some insight I would not have guessed.  I had assumed the tracks and increased maneuverability would have made the mini-excavator the better choice for uneven ground.
 
Alex Arn
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Eric Hanson wrote:Alex,

I think that is a very wise choice.  That Kubota, if in good shape, could serve you well into the future and appears well equipped at present to help you with your most immediate needs.

A thought for you going forward is to think about a possible well made grader blade.  I have ontogeny these and it is very solidly built, has both tilt and offset functions and may serve you well.

If you are still curious, let me know and I can give you more details.

Eric



It's funny you mention a grader, I was reading the Army Core of Engineering manual on earth moving projects yesterday (my wife think my in-flight reading material is weird) and the section on graders was very interesting.  I didn't realize you could dig ditches or build terraces with them.  It's definitely something I need to keep in mind for the future.
 
Dillon Nichols
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Alex Arn wrote:

Devin Lavign wrote:

However if the ground is not level, the backhoe with the leveling ability is so much better than an excavator. Unless you like angled trench walls that might collapse don't even try it with the excavator.



Thanks, Devin, that is some insight I would not have guessed.  I had assumed the tracks and increased maneuverability would have made the mini-excavator the better choice for uneven grounid.



If I am understanding correctly, Devin, you're referring to using the stabilizers and bucket on the backhoe to set it level, to get vertical walls as you dig on sloped ground, yes?

My 150 sized excavator can't do this, true. However, an excavator with a backfill blade could, and these are commonly available on mini through 60 sized in my area, occasionally you see them on a 120.
 
Dillon Nichols
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Devin Lavign wrote:I am a heavy equipment operator and have experience with multiple types of equipment.

First thing to mention is skid steers are expensive for what they are capable of. Unless you have tight working space they really aren't worth it. That is where they shine. When you need the maneuverability of a small machine. Otherwise you are better off with any other machine that can do what they do but better.

Now that leaves tractor with backhoe/loader and excavator.

Yes an excavator is a good piece of equipment. I am however amazed at the over use of them for jobs that really should be done by something else.They shine at digging trenches on level ground. Really really shine at that. But after that, they start to even out with other equipment. The big reason they are so used in construction is well trenches are highly needed. But a good construction backhoe can dig trenches almost as fast and as well as an excavator. Plus with the front loader can fill that trench in a fraction of the time an excavator can. I have had races with other operators and the back hoe will win every time if it is to the finish of fill the trench back in, but the excavator will be a moment ahead in the actual trench digging.

However if the ground is not level, the backhoe with the leveling ability is so much better than an excavator. Unless you like angled trench walls that might collapse don't even try it with the excavator.

From all you described, I would choose a tractor with loader back hoe. For the price of what you would spend on an excavator you can find a pretty good tractor with backhoe and loader, since they tend to be little less costly. And yes a tractor backhoe is a jack of trades master of none. But the amount of work you have listed (and the stuff that will come up) that is exactly what you need. Something that can be flexible and do many different tasks. That loader will be a life saver the first time you need to move a pile of dirt from where it sits to 40 feet or more over to where you want it.

Definitely opt for a 4 wheel drive tractor, you will be happy you did. Look for a good PTO on the tractor, that will come in handy so many times later. I would suggest you also look for front forks for the tractor they are so useful that it is amazing they don't just come standard with any loader.

I wish you luck and hope you enjoy working the land into shape.



You don't consider a full sized excavator better for digging larger ponds?

Doing something with the piles after digging is certainly a problem. A backhoe definitely has an advantage there. That said, moving really big piles one bucket at a time still sucks, and when the pile is going a ways it sucks a lot... My current theory is hire a dumptruck for longer moves, and use a dozer for shorter ones... hoping it will be more cost effective as well as quicker, time will tell..
 
Devin Lavign
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Alex Arn wrote:

Eric Hanson wrote:Alex,

I think that is a very wise choice.  That Kubota, if in good shape, could serve you well into the future and appears well equipped at present to help you with your most immediate needs.

A thought for you going forward is to think about a possible well made grader blade.  I have ontogeny these and it is very solidly built, has both tilt and offset functions and may serve you well.

If you are still curious, let me know and I can give you more details.

Eric



It's funny you mention a grader, I was reading the Army Core of Engineering manual on earth moving projects yesterday (my wife think my in-flight reading material is weird) and the section on graders was very interesting.  I didn't realize you could dig ditches or build terraces with them.  It's definitely something I need to keep in mind for the future.



Alex I think Eric was referring to a rear attached grader blade for the tractor. Not a Motor Grader machine.

I too was amazed at the possibilities Motor graders are capable of. They are a very complex machine though and take a lot of time to get decent at, and even more time to really start to fully understand what you can do. I do mean more time like a decade of using them. They are the highest learning curve piece of heavy equipment out there. You can get decent in a few weeks but over time you realize you only scratched the surface and there is a lot more going on, and as well your skills increase as you get better and better with the controls. To see a real expert running on of those is amazing.

Dillon Nichols wrote:If I am understanding correctly, Devin, you're referring to using the stabilizers and bucket on the backhoe to set it level, to get vertical walls as you dig on sloped ground, yes?

My 150 sized excavator can't do this, true. However, an excavator with a backfill blade could, and these are commonly available on mini through 60 sized in my area, occasionally you see them on a 120.



Not sure what you are suggesting could be done with a backfill blade to level an excavator using it with. It is not a set of stabilizers. The only way you can level an excavator is to have it sit on level ground, and if it is not level it can dig at angles undercutting the trench it is digging.

Dillon Nichols wrote: You don't consider a full sized excavator better for digging larger ponds?

Doing something with the piles after digging is certainly a problem. A backhoe definitely has an advantage there. That said, moving really big piles one bucket at a time still sucks, and when the pile is going a ways it sucks a lot... My current theory is hire a dumptruck for longer moves, and use a dozer for shorter ones... hoping it will be more cost effective as well as quicker, time will tell..



For a large pond, I would say loader/backhoe and/or dozer are the batter options. Though for a large enough pond a large excavator rental would not be out of my thoughts. Yes dump trucks are the best option for longer moves of earth. How far are you planning to move your earth? While not the most fun, a loader bucket should be able to move dirt removed from a pond a fair distance. Most folks generally wont need to move their dirt that far from their pond site, unless they are moving it off their property. Only major issue with moving dirt with the loader bucket is terrain, but if the terrain is poor for the tractor to move with the loader, a dump truck wont be happy either.
 
Eric Hanson
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Just to set the record straight, when I mentioned a grader blade, I was referring to the 3- point attachment that fits to the rear of the tractor.

I have owned a grader blade for about a dozen years and I consider it to be a highly flexible important available at reasonable prices.  My two biggest uses for the grader blade is moving snow and maintaining a driveway.  When I first got the grader blade, the sales representative insisted that the box blade was the way to go (it was more expensive).  However, the angle function really aids in snow removal and generally aids in moving long runs of earth movement.  I just a couple of months ago got a new blade for my new tractor and it has an offset function in addition to the angle and tilt functions that are normally present.  I highly recommend the offset function.  I would not be surprised if you could dig/clear your ditches & waterways by using the grader blade and taking out a slice of dirt at a time (don’t try to sink the blade in all at once, you will stall your tractor).

The blade I got was purchased new and is very high quality and available for a reasonable price.  If you are still interested, let me know and I will get you more details.

Eric
 
Alex Arn
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Dan Grubbs wrote:Just to quickly chime in with an observation of the OP statement. Now, I'm not there to see things first hand and original posts usually don't have all the information people need to give advice, but here I go anyway.

Though many people might be really good at wanting to know what they want to do with a property, I'm not convinced that "a few days walking our new property" is enough observation to inform a detailed plan. Observation is the one thing that too many people neglect because of their desire to "get going" on their land -- especially if that includes earthworks. This usually has repercussions down the road. Having said that, I offer this:



Sorry, I shortened it for brevity.  My wife and I have been obsessed with this property for almost a year and have visited it multiple times and gone over the available satellite, climate, and USGS data with a level of obsession that's in line with our primary careers (I'm a data analytics consultant and she is a forensic accountant).  I had not planned on doing any earthwork until I had witnessed a few rain cycles but the neighbors comment about the drainage system needing work and my discussions with the ditch rider made it clear that I need to empty the drainage ditches right away which is what prompted this post.


Dan Grubbs wrote:
The Kubota L3800 is a good machine and approved Kubota dealers with repair shops can be found pretty easily in most states. When operating a tractor-mounted back hoe, move much more slowly than you think you need to. I've seen people swing and stop the arm and bang the scoop way too much and that not only is hard on the articulation points, but is hard on the hydraulics. Most of the smaller tractors with mounted back hoes are not designed to the industrial tolerances as construction equipment. Put it simply, baby the machine and it will serve you well. If it's hydrostatic transmission, even better. What I loose in horsepower with an HST I gain partly back by using ag tires. I'm a fan of ag tires and not industrial tires because of the better traction and less loss of horsepower. If the 'bota you see for sale has R4 tires, you may want to save up for some new ag tires later. I also will recommend beet juice in the rear tires as ballast. As much as I love these smaller tractors, they are often a bit too light and the addition of beet juice in the rear tires is a must. Don't use other fluids, use beet juice. Your dealer should know what you're talking about. It is the only mistake I made when I purchased my small tractor. I wish I would have had them add the beet juice for ballast. Finally, the front-end loader is one of the most indispensable pieces of equipment on our homestead. My wife shared a useful insight with me one day which led me to finally buy a tractor. She said, "you know, one trip to the hospital for a broken bone or an injured back will be far more expensive that the cost of a new tractor." My tractor and FEL have saved me many hard hours of labor that I can do literally in minutes. You'll never regret having the FEL on your tractor.

Best of luck.



There is  Kubota dealer in Powell WY (around 45 minutes by car) which I was pleased to discover.  I've been trying to read up on operations and I'm hoping the area is dry enough when I am up there in August.  It was frozen solid when I was there last week and I'm not scheduled to go up there again until we take possession in August.  Well I had never heard of beet juice before (or liquid ballast in general), looks like I have more reading to do.
 
Alex Arn
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Eric Hanson wrote:Just to set the record straight, when I mentioned a grader blade, I was referring to the 3- point attachment that fits to the rear of the tractor.

I have owned a grader blade for about a dozen years and I consider it to be a highly flexible important available at reasonable prices.  My two biggest uses for the grader blade is moving snow and maintaining a driveway.  When I first got the grader blade, the sales representative insisted that the box blade was the way to go (it was more expensive).  However, the angle function really aids in snow removal and generally aids in moving long runs of earth movement.  I just a couple of months ago got a new blade for my new tractor and it has an offset function in addition to the angle and tilt functions that are normally present.  I highly recommend the offset function.  I would not be surprised if you could dig/clear your ditches & waterways by using the grader blade and taking out a slice of dirt at a time (don’t try to sink the blade in all at once, you will stall your tractor).

The blade I got was purchased new and is very high quality and available for a reasonable price.  If you are still interested, let me know and I will get you more details.

Eric



Ah, that makes sense.  While I was going through the property I found a 3-point grader attachment (along with a V plow) but not sure what sort of shape it is in and if it would be compatible with a size tractor I am looking at. I am planning on having the driveway done professionally in the next year.  It's a half mile long, too narrow, and in need of a lot of work.  Something to consider for future work.
 
Alex Arn
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Devin Lavign wrote:

Alex Arn wrote:

Eric Hanson wrote:Alex,

I think that is a very wise choice.  That Kubota, if in good shape, could serve you well into the future and appears well equipped at present to help you with your most immediate needs.

A thought for you going forward is to think about a possible well made grader blade.  I have ontogeny these and it is very solidly built, has both tilt and offset functions and may serve you well.

If you are still curious, let me know and I can give you more details.

Eric



It's funny you mention a grader, I was reading the Army Core of Engineering manual on earth moving projects yesterday (my wife think my in-flight reading material is weird) and the section on graders was very interesting.  I didn't realize you could dig ditches or build terraces with them.  It's definitely something I need to keep in mind for the future.



Alex I think Eric was referring to a rear attached grader blade for the tractor. Not a Motor Grader machine.

I too was amazed at the possibilities Motor graders are capable of. They are a very complex machine though and take a lot of time to get decent at, and even more time to really start to fully understand what you can do. I do mean more time like a decade of using them. They are the highest learning curve piece of heavy equipment out there. You can get decent in a few weeks but over time you realize you only scratched the surface and there is a lot more going on, and as well your skills increase as you get better and better with the controls. To see a real expert running on of those is amazing.

Dillon Nichols wrote:If I am understanding correctly, Devin, you're referring to using the stabilizers and bucket on the backhoe to set it level, to get vertical walls as you dig on sloped ground, yes?

My 150 sized excavator can't do this, true. However, an excavator with a backfill blade could, and these are commonly available on mini through 60 sized in my area, occasionally you see them on a 120.



Not sure what you are suggesting could be done with a backfill blade to level an excavator using it with. It is not a set of stabilizers. The only way you can level an excavator is to have it sit on level ground, and if it is not level it can dig at angles undercutting the trench it is digging.

Dillon Nichols wrote: You don't consider a full sized excavator better for digging larger ponds?

Doing something with the piles after digging is certainly a problem. A backhoe definitely has an advantage there. That said, moving really big piles one bucket at a time still sucks, and when the pile is going a ways it sucks a lot... My current theory is hire a dumptruck for longer moves, and use a dozer for shorter ones... hoping it will be more cost effective as well as quicker, time will tell..



For a large pond, I would say loader/backhoe and/or dozer are the batter options. Though for a large enough pond a large excavator rental would not be out of my thoughts. Yes dump trucks are the best option for longer moves of earth. How far are you planning to move your earth? While not the most fun, a loader bucket should be able to move dirt removed from a pond a fair distance. Most folks generally wont need to move their dirt that far from their pond site, unless they are moving it off their property. Only major issue with moving dirt with the loader bucket is terrain, but if the terrain is poor for the tractor to move with the loader, a dump truck wont be happy either.



I was talking about a mini-excavator which is more inline with my budget and for size wize much more manuverable for foundation and leach field work.  For my projects, the loader should be able to handle any earth moving so no dumptrucks for me.
 
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Devin Lavign wrote:

Dillon Nichols wrote:If I am understanding correctly, Devin, you're referring to using the stabilizers and bucket on the backhoe to set it level, to get vertical walls as you dig on sloped ground, yes?

My 150 sized excavator can't do this, true. However, an excavator with a backfill blade could, and these are commonly available on mini through 60 sized in my area, occasionally you see them on a 120.



Not sure what you are suggesting could be done with a backfill blade to level an excavator using it with. It is not a set of stabilizers. The only way you can level an excavator is to have it sit on level ground, and if it is not level it can dig at angles undercutting the trench it is digging.



Hm... I have a friend with an EX60-3 with blade; he uses it exactly like stabilizers. Rotates the tracks so the blade is downhill, then lowers it til the unit sits level.

I would guess that perhaps it can't level on as steep as slope as a backhoe, but I'm not sure.

He tried to convince me this feature was worth buying a 60 for, but with the cost being equal I opted for the larger but bladeless unit.
 
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Dillon, while you might be able to use that blade for that, it is not the intended purpose, nor is it good for it. That blade is meant for light scraping and minimal pushing of dirt. Not for the machine to rest it's weight on it while working.

It also does not have the range of adjustment that a loader bucket and two stabilizers has.

But if your friend wants to use it that way, that is up to him. I would not.
 
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Devin Lavign wrote:Dillon, while you might be able to use that blade for that, it is not the intended purpose, nor is it good for it. That blade is meant for light scraping and minimal pushing of dirt. Not for the machine to rest it's weight on it while working.

It also does not have the range of adjustment that a loader bucket and two stabilizers has.

But if your friend wants to use it that way, that is up to him. I would not.



Thanks for the added info. He's worked that machine hard for years as a contractor, currently its down so he can replace the pivot bearing. The blade seems to have stood up well to his (ab)use.
 
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Dillon Nichols wrote:

Devin Lavign wrote:

Dillon Nichols wrote:If I am understanding correctly, Devin, you're referring to using the stabilizers and bucket on the backhoe to set it level, to get vertical walls as you dig on sloped ground, yes?

My 150 sized excavator can't do this, true. However, an excavator with a backfill blade could, and these are commonly available on mini through 60 sized in my area, occasionally you see them on a 120.



Not sure what you are suggesting could be done with a backfill blade to level an excavator using it with. It is not a set of stabilizers. The only way you can level an excavator is to have it sit on level ground, and if it is not level it can dig at angles undercutting the trench it is digging.



Hm... I have a friend with an EX60-3 with blade; he uses it exactly like stabilizers. Rotates the tracks so the blade is downhill, then lowers it til the unit sits level.

I would guess that perhaps it can't level on as steep as slope as a backhoe, but I'm not sure.

He tried to convince me this feature was worth buying a 60 for, but with the cost being equal I opted for the larger but bladeless unit.



Okay that makes more sense to me now.  For clearing out an existing trench I don't think it mattering since you are working perpendicular to the trench.
 
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Dan Grubbs wrote:Just to quickly chime in with an observation of the OP statement. Now, I'm not there to see things first hand and original posts usually don't have all the information people need to give advice, but here I go anyway.

Though many people might be really good at wanting to know what they want to do with a property, I'm not convinced that "a few days walking our new property" is enough observation to inform a detailed plan. Observation is the one thing that too many people neglect because of their desire to "get going" on their land -- especially if that includes earthworks. This usually has repercussions down the road. Having said that, I offer this:

The Kubota L3800 is a good machine and approved Kubota dealers with repair shops can be found pretty easily in most states. When operating a tractor-mounted back hoe, move much more slowly than you think you need to. I've seen people swing and stop the arm and bang the scoop way too much and that not only is hard on the articulation points, but is hard on the hydraulics. Most of the smaller tractors with mounted back hoes are not designed to the industrial tolerances as construction equipment. Put it simply, baby the machine and it will serve you well. If it's hydrostatic transmission, even better. What I loose in horsepower with an HST I gain partly back by using ag tires. I'm a fan of ag tires and not industrial tires because of the better traction and less loss of horsepower. If the 'bota you see for sale has R4 tires, you may want to save up for some new ag tires later. I also will recommend beet juice in the rear tires as ballast. As much as I love these smaller tractors, they are often a bit too light and the addition of beet juice in the rear tires is a must. Don't use other fluids, use beet juice. Your dealer should know what you're talking about. It is the only mistake I made when I purchased my small tractor. I wish I would have had them add the beet juice for ballast. Finally, the front-end loader is one of the most indispensable pieces of equipment on our homestead. My wife shared a useful insight with me one day which led me to finally buy a tractor. She said, "you know, one trip to the hospital for a broken bone or an injured back will be far more expensive that the cost of a new tractor." My tractor and FEL have saved me many hard hours of labor that I can do literally in minutes. You'll never regret having the FEL on your tractor.

Best of luck.



Somewhat related, is a Kubota L3800 big enough for "deep plowing"?  Part of the field is infested with Greesewood and from what I have read the choices are herbicide or deep plowing multiple times at offset angles (do destroy the roots).  
 
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Alex Arn wrote:

Dan Grubbs wrote:Just to quickly chime in with an observation of the OP statement. Now, I'm not there to see things first hand and original posts usually don't have all the information people need to give advice, but here I go anyway.

Though many people might be really good at wanting to know what they want to do with a property, I'm not convinced that "a few days walking our new property" is enough observation to inform a detailed plan. Observation is the one thing that too many people neglect because of their desire to "get going" on their land -- especially if that includes earthworks. This usually has repercussions down the road. Having said that, I offer this:

The Kubota L3800 is a good machine and approved Kubota dealers with repair shops can be found pretty easily in most states. When operating a tractor-mounted back hoe, move much more slowly than you think you need to. I've seen people swing and stop the arm and bang the scoop way too much and that not only is hard on the articulation points, but is hard on the hydraulics. Most of the smaller tractors with mounted back hoes are not designed to the industrial tolerances as construction equipment. Put it simply, baby the machine and it will serve you well. If it's hydrostatic transmission, even better. What I loose in horsepower with an HST I gain partly back by using ag tires. I'm a fan of ag tires and not industrial tires because of the better traction and less loss of horsepower. If the 'bota you see for sale has R4 tires, you may want to save up for some new ag tires later. I also will recommend beet juice in the rear tires as ballast. As much as I love these smaller tractors, they are often a bit too light and the addition of beet juice in the rear tires is a must. Don't use other fluids, use beet juice. Your dealer should know what you're talking about. It is the only mistake I made when I purchased my small tractor. I wish I would have had them add the beet juice for ballast. Finally, the front-end loader is one of the most indispensable pieces of equipment on our homestead. My wife shared a useful insight with me one day which led me to finally buy a tractor. She said, "you know, one trip to the hospital for a broken bone or an injured back will be far more expensive that the cost of a new tractor." My tractor and FEL have saved me many hard hours of labor that I can do literally in minutes. You'll never regret having the FEL on your tractor.

Best of luck.



Somewhat related, is a Kubota L3800 big enough for "deep plowing"?  Part of the field is infested with Greesewood and from what I have read the choices are herbicide or deep plowing multiple times at offset angles (do destroy the roots).  



Maybe, sort of? How deep? My TN55 seems just big enough for most things. I'd hate to lose weight and traction more than HP.

I have a 2-tine subsoiler, ~24" tines; it can leave me spinning 3 wheels if I hook a root or big rock.
 
Alex Arn
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Dillon Nichols wrote:

Alex Arn wrote:

Dan Grubbs wrote:Just to quickly chime in with an observation of the OP statement. Now, I'm not there to see things first hand and original posts usually don't have all the information people need to give advice, but here I go anyway.

Though many people might be really good at wanting to know what they want to do with a property, I'm not convinced that "a few days walking our new property" is enough observation to inform a detailed plan. Observation is the one thing that too many people neglect because of their desire to "get going" on their land -- especially if that includes earthworks. This usually has repercussions down the road. Having said that, I offer this:

The Kubota L3800 is a good machine and approved Kubota dealers with repair shops can be found pretty easily in most states. When operating a tractor-mounted back hoe, move much more slowly than you think you need to. I've seen people swing and stop the arm and bang the scoop way too much and that not only is hard on the articulation points, but is hard on the hydraulics. Most of the smaller tractors with mounted back hoes are not designed to the industrial tolerances as construction equipment. Put it simply, baby the machine and it will serve you well. If it's hydrostatic transmission, even better. What I loose in horsepower with an HST I gain partly back by using ag tires. I'm a fan of ag tires and not industrial tires because of the better traction and less loss of horsepower. If the 'bota you see for sale has R4 tires, you may want to save up for some new ag tires later. I also will recommend beet juice in the rear tires as ballast. As much as I love these smaller tractors, they are often a bit too light and the addition of beet juice in the rear tires is a must. Don't use other fluids, use beet juice. Your dealer should know what you're talking about. It is the only mistake I made when I purchased my small tractor. I wish I would have had them add the beet juice for ballast. Finally, the front-end loader is one of the most indispensable pieces of equipment on our homestead. My wife shared a useful insight with me one day which led me to finally buy a tractor. She said, "you know, one trip to the hospital for a broken bone or an injured back will be far more expensive that the cost of a new tractor." My tractor and FEL have saved me many hard hours of labor that I can do literally in minutes. You'll never regret having the FEL on your tractor.

Best of luck.



Somewhat related, is a Kubota L3800 big enough for "deep plowing"?  Part of the field is infested with Greesewood and from what I have read the choices are herbicide or deep plowing multiple times at offset angles (do destroy the roots).  



Maybe, sort of? How deep? My TN55 seems just big enough for most things. I'd hate to lose weight and traction more than HP.

I have a 2-tine subsoiler, ~24" tines; it can leave me spinning 3 wheels if I hook a root or big rock.



The USDA plant guide says 10 inches so substantially less but the soil is pretty rocky.

"Deep plowing to a depth of 10 inches or deeper and plowing in two directions is often the most effective treatment where soil conditions are favorable. After the first plowing, wait until the plants start growing again and then make the second pass at a 45 degree angle to the previous pass. Regrowth normally occurs in the next growing season but can happen in the year of the first plowing."

https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/pg_save4.pdf
 
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Alex Arn wrote:

Dillon Nichols wrote:

Alex Arn wrote:

Dan Grubbs wrote:Just to quickly chime in with an observation of the OP statement. Now, I'm not there to see things first hand and original posts usually don't have all the information people need to give advice, but here I go anyway.

Though many people might be really good at wanting to know what they want to do with a property, I'm not convinced that "a few days walking our new property" is enough observation to inform a detailed plan. Observation is the one thing that too many people neglect because of their desire to "get going" on their land -- especially if that includes earthworks. This usually has repercussions down the road. Having said that, I offer this:

The Kubota L3800 is a good machine and approved Kubota dealers with repair shops can be found pretty easily in most states. When operating a tractor-mounted back hoe, move much more slowly than you think you need to. I've seen people swing and stop the arm and bang the scoop way too much and that not only is hard on the articulation points, but is hard on the hydraulics. Most of the smaller tractors with mounted back hoes are not designed to the industrial tolerances as construction equipment. Put it simply, baby the machine and it will serve you well. If it's hydrostatic transmission, even better. What I loose in horsepower with an HST I gain partly back by using ag tires. I'm a fan of ag tires and not industrial tires because of the better traction and less loss of horsepower. If the 'bota you see for sale has R4 tires, you may want to save up for some new ag tires later. I also will recommend beet juice in the rear tires as ballast. As much as I love these smaller tractors, they are often a bit too light and the addition of beet juice in the rear tires is a must. Don't use other fluids, use beet juice. Your dealer should know what you're talking about. It is the only mistake I made when I purchased my small tractor. I wish I would have had them add the beet juice for ballast. Finally, the front-end loader is one of the most indispensable pieces of equipment on our homestead. My wife shared a useful insight with me one day which led me to finally buy a tractor. She said, "you know, one trip to the hospital for a broken bone or an injured back will be far more expensive that the cost of a new tractor." My tractor and FEL have saved me many hard hours of labor that I can do literally in minutes. You'll never regret having the FEL on your tractor.

Best of luck.



Somewhat related, is a Kubota L3800 big enough for "deep plowing"?  Part of the field is infested with Greesewood and from what I have read the choices are herbicide or deep plowing multiple times at offset angles (do destroy the roots).  



Maybe, sort of? How deep? My TN55 seems just big enough for most things. I'd hate to lose weight and traction more than HP.

I have a 2-tine subsoiler, ~24" tines; it can leave me spinning 3 wheels if I hook a root or big rock.



The USDA plant guide says 10 inches so substantially less but the soil is pretty rocky.

"Deep plowing to a depth of 10 inches or deeper and plowing in two directions is often the most effective treatment where soil conditions are favorable. After the first plowing, wait until the plants start growing again and then make the second pass at a 45 degree angle to the previous pass. Regrowth normally occurs in the next growing season but can happen in the year of the first plowing."

https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/pg_save4.pdf



I'd be reasonably confident that you could rip at 10" deep with the right size of implement. What that size might be I'm not sure, hopefully someone else has a better guess. But more tractor would equate to a wider swath, and less time...
 
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Skid steer is best for excavation, but those projects tend to be finite and skidsteers are really expensive, even used. You could buy one with the intent of selling it, but I would definitely buy used, in good shape. Or you could rent when you’re in “doing projects mode.” Renting is likely going to be cheaper in the long run, but of course it’s more convenient to have the equipment always on your property. Any major backhoe projects? I’d definitely rent for those. You can get a backhoe for a tractor, but it will be less efficient to use for larger, deeper excavations.

For long-term, all-round use, it’s hard to beat a tractor. You’ll likely want to do baling at some point so make sure to get a tractor large enough to run a baler. I personally think it’s great to have a backhoe for the tractor for smaller projects. Make sure you get one that will take skid steer implements on the loader arms. (it goes without saying that you need a loader). A cab is expensive and we don’t have one, but if you plan to regularly be on the tractor in inclement weather it will be worth the money. We did not get set up for a grapple and will need to rectify that. (Oops.) All around, the tractor is the most versatile machine you can buy. You can use it for some excavation needs, but anything very intense, you’ll want a skid steer or track steer. Eventually though, you do work yourself out of the need for it. You’ll always want that tractor. You can buy used or new, but we weren’t able to find what we wanted used. We had to wait two months just to get the new one we wanted. If you live in a more populated area, you’ll likely have more options.

Best of luck, and have fun!
 
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Cindy Skillman wrote:Skid steer is best for excavation, but those projects tend to be finite and skidsteers are really expensive, even used. You could buy one with the intent of selling it, but I would definitely buy used, in good shape. Or you could rent when you’re in “doing projects mode.” Renting is likely going to be cheaper in the long run, but of course it’s more convenient to have the equipment always on your property. Any major backhoe projects? I’d definitely rent for those. You can get a backhoe for a tractor, but it will be less efficient to use for larger, deeper excavations.

For long-term, all-round use, it’s hard to beat a tractor. You’ll likely want to do baling at some point so make sure to get a tractor large enough to run a baler. I personally think it’s great to have a backhoe for the tractor for smaller projects. Make sure you get one that will take skid steer implements on the loader arms. (it goes without saying that you need a loader). A cab is expensive and we don’t have one, but if you plan to regularly be on the tractor in inclement weather it will be worth the money. We did not get set up for a grapple and will need to rectify that. (Oops.) All around, the tractor is the most versatile machine you can buy. You can use it for some excavation needs, but anything very intense, you’ll want a skid steer or track steer. Eventually though, you do work yourself out of the need for it. You’ll always want that tractor. You can buy used or new, but we weren’t able to find what we wanted used. We had to wait two months just to get the new one we wanted. If you live in a more populated area, you’ll likely have more options.

Best of luck, and have fun!


Good point about the baler.
 
Alex Arn
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A few Pictures.
IMG_5788.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_5788.JPG]
Former Hay Field half covered with Black Greasewood
IMG_5931.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_5931.JPG]
The "Drainage Ditch" (where the grass is sticking up)
IMG_3073.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_3073.JPG]
Summer shot of the grazing pasture
 
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Alex Arn wrote:A few Pictures.



+1 to excavator, perhaps a mini excavator and a used older model tractor?
 
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Perric Falcon wrote:

Alex Arn wrote:A few Pictures.



+1 to excavator, perhaps a mini excavator and a used older model tractor?



beatiful land by the way!
 
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I learned that with an old, reliable, bulletproof tractor like a JD 1120 (60's era stuff), and a simple blade behind the tractor, I was able to grade and smooth my 750ft driveway up a cliff, dig swales, build ponds, pull old huge fence posts out, drive new ones in, fix well plumbing, move portable watering stations for cattle (mob grazing), tow things, clear snow, create berms, pull trees, clear trees, make roads and a zillion more things.

And, I was able to repair everything that went wrong. A simple knowledge of some mechanics is helpful, but I am no diesel mech - and it still worked.

With the attachements you can put on a tractor, the sky is the limit. From tedding, to ploughing (I had a 3 blade moldboard plough - yugh), keyline plowing, seeding, tilling, bush hogging, I honestly dont see a tractor being beat for versaitility.

However, you've received excellent advice here. Depending on budget, and time available, rent the backhoe and enjoy a solidly built tractor. Having service in the rural area is a great tip from someone - an important one. (Although a tractor is not really high tech lets face it unless you get one with all the electronic stuff in the world. Then, you better had service - I've watched JD newer tractors - and the big, fancy ones, come to an absolute stand still and requiring technicians whereas my old one would have been going in no time)
 
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