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Small gravel pit on property....possible income?  RSS feed

 
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I have a small san/gravel pit on my property that hasn't been used in over 20 years. The material is in excellent condition, and the pit has easy access. Wondering if anyone has experience with selling this, and if it would be worth it to pursue?
 
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pretty much anything is worth something, you just have to find someone that needs or wants what you have. I think it would depend on a few things; what quantity you have, if it's clean, that you have a reasonable price and if you have a method to load it onto a truck/trailer. would be good for drainage or concrete, check local suppliers and under cut their price, try selling on craigslist or local newspaper ads.
 
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I have a gravel pit myself that is similar to what you describe, and while it is only 7 acres in size, yes I have made a little money off it over the years.

It really depends on what projects people have going as to how much money can be made and if it is even wanted. The problem with gravel is that it must be moved, and to do so long distances costs a lot of money for a contractor. A dump truck only gets 6-8 miles per gallon, so the shorter the haul the better, especially if they will need a lot of it for a project.

In the past I have sold some gravel to a dairy farmer putting in a big liquid manure pit, a guy building a house who just needed fill, and some nearby road work. For awhile a local dairy farmer was taking out sand every year; only a few hundred cubic yards to spread on his floors to keep his cows from slipping, so that was a nice little bonus, but typically my gravel pit sits for a few years, returns to life when someone has a project going, then settles back down. This year, after years of being idle, the town is rebuilding my road so its being resuscitated.

Here anyway, it is bought from the pit owner by the cubic yard. The loader operator (I was one for two years) has a trip meter on his loader and counts the bucket loads of gravel that go over the screen or into the trucks. Here the going rate is $2 bucks a cubic yard for "stumpage"...a term taken from the forestry side of things here. That is, money a contractor owes a landowner for taking his gravel. A ton truck holds 3 yards, a single axle dump truck holds 7 yards, a "wheeler" (2 axles) holds 14 yards, and a tri-axle holds 21 yards. I used a 4-5 yard loader and most days I moved 2000 yards a day. That means $4000 for the pit owner!! Nice huh?!! However some pay by the wight, with a cubic yard of gravel weighing 3000 pounds, just so you know so you can convert to cubic yards if you wish.

The biggest thing to know is how much gravel you have. I say that because I use a lot of gravel for my own farming projects. It really has saved me money and so I am leery to sell too much gravel now, but more on that in a moment.

The calculations are really easy. You have to know how many acres your gravel pit covers, how deep the gravel bed is (called head), then subtract how deep the overburden is (topsoil) and get your number. Mine is 7 acres in size, and with an acre being 42,000 square feet, and the gravel bed being 32 feet deep, I have 9,362,000 cubic feet of gravel. Now a cubic yard is 27 cubic feet, so if we divide 9,362,000 by 27, we get 346,740 cubic yards. We still must subtract the overburden, and on mine it is a a foot deep, so I must subtract 301,000 cubic feet, or 11,148 cubic yards. So that means I have 335,592 cubic yards of gravel in the ground. However we need one more calculation. When you dig gravel out of the ground where it is tightly compressed, you get what engineers call "bucket swell" or swell factor. You said your gravel is good gravel, or clean gravel so it should be around 15%. For me, that would give me an additional 50,338 cubic yards of gravel for a grand total of 386,000 cubic yards of the stuff.

Why go through all the numbers?

Well I wanted you to know how everything pencils out, but also so you could figure out your own gravel pit. Yeah it may only be worth $2 a cubic yard, but my gravel pit is worth over half a million dollars!! The right dirt is really worth some money! Still the resource does not grow back, so once it is gone, it is gone. It is not like trees. I'll sell some here and there, but upon retirement when the price is higher then it is now, other pits in the area have run out of gravel, and I am too old to do anything but watch trucks drive up over the hill; I'll really sell it.

It is definitely a great asset to have.

 
Michael Adams
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Travis, thank-you very much for these details. All that math and their description was exactly what I was looking for, as I have absolutely no clue on prices/volumes for the aggregate industry. Also appreciated is the advice to be aware of the finite resource of the sand/gravel. I want to establish some walking paths and will be using it to upgrade the main road which runs though the property as the previous owners have done, so will be planning for that. A lucky role of the dice is that the main (paved) road in front of our land is way overdue for an upgrade.
Thinking perhaps the town would need SOME of this supply like you provided for your road. It would be direct service for approx 10km of road work. Just an initial thought though.

The sand/gravel is in terrific condition. It's very fine, with no weeds. I'll upload some photos in the next few days, and try to see if I can grade its classification better.

In the meantime, any other 'must have' veggie farm projects this would be good for? We don't have any livestock, mostly veggies.
 
Travis Johnson
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Actually I do...get a cement mixer. Having your own gravel can really save a lot of money. Dry bags of portland cement costs about $5 a bag and it takes 5 of them to make a cubic yard. Do the math on that and you end up with $25 a yard. Considering pre-mixed concrete costs me $90 a cubic yard here and you can see a cement mixer quickly pays for itself.

The biggest project I have made is a 13 x 18 x 6 inch slab for my mud room, but I have done lots of small projects with it as well, like footbaths for my sheep, some slate in my entryway (I got a lot of slate here as well), and chimney mortar. One of the biggest jobs effort wise, but not volume wise, was making concrete countertops for my kitchen. I am just the type of person that tries to do as much for myself as I can for myself, with as much materials off the farm as I can.

But beyond making my own concrete from my own gravel pit, I use my cement mixer more for mixing soil then I do concrete. I use mine to make my own veggie potting soil. Loam, perlite and sheep manure work well mixed in a cement mixer. Another member on here suggested using gravel instead of perlite which is another byproduct for your gravel pit. So while having your own gravel pit can justify the cost of buying a cement mixer, the other mixing tasks they do is just icing upon the cake.
 
Travis Johnson
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I once made money with my gravel pit another way that is homestead related...

I was driving my sheep through a small stream to get to a distant pasture, so I applied for a cost-share conservation program for a roadway and got it. The way cost share programs work is, they figure what it would cost the Federal Government to build the road and you get a certain percentage of that money...typically 75%. You kick in the other 25%. Well since they had to calculate in what it would cost to truck and buy the gravel they got a cost of $10,200, but since I had my own gravel pit, it costs me far less to build the road. Any money left over you get to keep, so with it I went out and bought more sheep to increase my flock size.

I mention this because you can do the same thing. Bartering is a great tool and often people need gravel for projects and they might have things you need for your homestead. It can really work out!
 
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One thing to be aware of before starting to sell gravel is whether a mining permit is required. As it sounds like your place has been mined commercially before, it is probably zoned to allow it, but you might need to get a current permit. Different areas have different requirements, and this may or may not be an issue for you.
 
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Greetings All,

Found your information on this topic. Here is my situation, I have 52 acres on the Comite River in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. Am interested in leasing the land for excavation of the Sand. Have EPA and all documents needed to operate as a dirt pit.  What I don't know is how much I could lease the property for and how much I should ask for each Cubin Ft. of material sold. Additionally I have been approached by an individual who wants to set up a concrete crusher plant, should I be asking for "royalties" for the use of the access road on my property to the main highway if used for his trucks hauling the concrete? Comments and opinions would be helpful.  Thank you,  
 
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Katherine Lorena wrote:Greetings All,

Found your information on this topic. Here is my situation, I have 52 acres on the Comite River in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. Am interested in leasing the land for excavation of the Sand. Have EPA and all documents needed to operate as a dirt pit.  What I don't know is how much I could lease the property for and how much I should ask for each Cubin Ft. of material sold. Additionally I have been approached by an individual who wants to set up a concrete crusher plant, should I be asking for "royalties" for the use of the access road on my property to the main highway if used for his trucks hauling the concrete? Comments and opinions would be helpful.  Thank you,  




My suggestion would be to contact you local Dept of Transportation or Public Works Department and ask them what the going rates are. They might...at the very least...be able to get you in touch with the right people (or right agency) so that you will get the proper money for your aggregate.

Here I often access internet listed rates by the Maine Dept of Transportation, or go to the Maine Geological Survey for information.
 
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Hi, I’m not sure if this needs a new topic thread, but I was wondering about the health/safety aspects of having the gravel pit on your property. I’m considering buying land that was previously used for a Minnesota DOT gravel pit. I want to buy it to use for recreational land. I’m just not sure if gravel pits have any health issues that I might not be considering (like allowing excess radon gas to escape,  or something that I haven’t even imagined). I appreciate any help you can give!
 
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Travis Johnson wrote:I have a gravel pit myself that is similar to what you describe, and while it is only 7 acres in size, yes I have made a little money off it over the years.


The calculations are really easy. You have to know how many acres your gravel pit covers, how deep the gravel bed is (called head), then subtract how deep the overburden is (topsoil) and get your number. Mine is 7 acres in size, and with an acre being 42,000 square feet, and the gravel bed being 32 feet deep, I have 9,362,000 cubic feet of gravel. Now a cubic yard is 27 cubic feet, so if we divide 9,362,000 by 27, we get 346,740 cubic yards. We still must subtract the overburden, and on mine it is a a foot deep, so I must subtract 301,000 cubic feet, or 11,148 cubic yards. So that means I have 335,592 cubic yards of gravel in the ground. However we need one more calculation. When you dig gravel out of the ground where it is tightly compressed, you get what engineers call "bucket swell" or swell factor. You said your gravel is good gravel, or clean gravel so it should be around 15%. For me, that would give me an additional 50,338 cubic yards of gravel for a grand total of 386,000 cubic yards of the stuff.




How did you determine size and depth?
 
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