Has anyone done this? What do I need to know because I'm about to plough about an acre. It's part lawn and part old tilled rows. The rows are in the wrong direction so I was just going to cut right through them and then bring in a excavator to put in raised beds/mini swales. SHould I go over the whole area with the level now? I was going to do that after the ploughing. If anyone has done this I welcome your advice.
I'm also have a difficult time getting anyone to do the work, so if it doesn't pan out is there anything else I can do, maybe some other technique I haven't heard of?
Berry, ask them if they can dig a shallow wide ditch
And if they can shoot a contour with a level. What is their hourly rate to do it with you on site (no equipment rental). Or go rent one and flag it yourself before they get there. Until you see the flags on the ground, you don't REALLY know and you don't want to be paying excavator time for them to watch you move the flags 10' uphill. Both times I hired a local contractor to do this with me, they ended up really getting into it, but they had no idea what I was on about when we started.
Maybe just not using the right key words-terms. I think i get what you mean. And if i am right, i would recommend having some one come and till the lawn, and maybe a few other passes with other implements if necessary, and then use a bed shaper on contour. This would make a lot of otherwise time consuming work, fast, and then easily maintained by hand for years to come, with much smaller human powered, wheel hoes, tillers and etcetera. Just make sure if you go this route, your contours are on spot, and that you have plenty of foot path and working room. If you can work fast enough to pick up flags, and stick them back down, i would mark contour before any work is done, and insist the soil be worked on contour, start to finish just keep the flags out of the way, or paint lines on the ground. This is done all the time. Most larger organic farms use this method, but tighter and less garden like.