So I found a company that has been making a 'ditch plow' for over 50 years . . . it looks like it would work great with non-concrete type of ground.
It throws the dirt equally to both sides of the swale, which isn't what we want. But I am sure with a little ingenuity, we could modify it to throw it all to the downhill side. It says it can dig a swale (ditch) 7 1/2' wide and 36" deep. Or smaller than that based on how deep you push it in the ground. It is meant to be pulled behind a dozer of some kind. Probably the heaviest dozer you could get your hands on for more effective swale creation.
I'd like some 2nd and 3rd opinions on this piece of machinery. Anyone have any experience with anything like this?
They can be found on farm auctions (real and online) from time to time. They work, take a LOT of horsepower unless your ground is well tilled (dead big ag land), and have been replaced by rotary machines by most farmers that use them:
They make smaller versions now, and some have a deflector that will throw the dirt down into a swale/terrace.
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I don't know about the ditch plow, I've never seen those. However you can make swales just using box blade set at an angle. The more passes the deeper the swale/ditch. This might work better on clay due to the ripper teeth.
You need a tail water ditcher, it moves the soil to one side only. And I would like to say Yonkers & Johnson inc. Builds the best ditch plow your money can buy. Check out page 158 in http://www.agmag.com/view-magazine/ and http://www.y-jinc.com/ ; also Known as a Single wing ditch plow. http://www.californiatractors.com/store/p227/Single_Wing_Ditch_Plow.html At 60 miles per hour, divided via 6.2 miles per gallon.
A truck would use 9.67 gallons per hour. Divide 9.67 via 2 i get 4.83 gallons per half hour, at $2.40 a gallon it would cost $11.59 per half hour to run the engine. At 4 gallons for 4 hours of work, at $2.40 per gallon it would cost $9.60 for a half mile bank. With a plow i could do a half mile bank in a half hour and move on to the next job. At $9.60 divided 4 equals $2.40 divided via 2 equals $1.20 for fuel for a half hour job. If farmer John thought it was cheaper to put banks and ditches in with a crawler with a blade they would not buy ditch plows. Right.
Many a terrace was made using just a single bottom turning plow. It would still work, not require as big a piece of equipment as some of them were pulled by mules/horses/oxen and the good ole Ford 8N tractor which is only a whopping 28HP. Don't know why you couldn't use that for the digging part and a scrape blade for any contouring.
They make better modern versions of that ditch plow, but why not just use a bulldozer with a 6 way blade? I am including a YouTube Video of it, but honestly a bulldozer with a 6 way blade can accomplish the same thing, with a few more passes granted, but still a nice finish on the swale. Last year I installed a half mile of swale and then got hungry and then stopped for lunch! To do all that it took about 4 gallons in diesel fuel, 4 hours time...and the end result was a perfectly shaped swale.
I have my own bulldozer granted, but a small 450 John Deere only costs $350 a day to rent, and $85 in delivery fees.
(BTW: Walt Chase is right on target as well, I am just adding another piece of equipment that excels at the job as well and can be rented for reasonable cost).