I got a pretty big earthworks project going, and despite a lot of technical help; we all failed to see the obvious; field access. I feel pretty stupid myself because it was blatantly obvious on the map and modeling, after all the swales were in place, there was no place to access the field with equipment. I live on top of a hill so there is no huge water flow here, EXCEPT at spring run off. In the spring these swales get a torrent of water! Still I have various options:
The first choice should always be a ford, but I this has two problems. The first is that the approach angles coming off the roadway and down into the swale will be pretty severe for a tractor hauling 3 point hitch implements. Since I cannot change the location of the swale, nor cut into the roadway, I really cannot put a Ford in just anywhere. There is one spot that I could employ a Ford at the end of the road, but a Ford should never cross a swale at 45 degrees which is what this would require. The second problem is, this location would put my field access at one of the wettest parts of the field. Now I try to keep my farm looking nice, but I am okay with how Fords look.
The second choice would be a bridge, and I started to build the abutments for it, but am now thinking to do it right would be a significant investment in time, money and materials. I like this idea because a bridge looks really nice and would be functional too. As you travel down the access road, it would be on the far end spanning the swale and could look pretty, especially if it was a cute little covered bridge. I have a design formulated, but I it is a big commitment to build.
The third choice is the least costly, easiest to do, and could be done anywhere, and that is the installation of a culvert. Just dump in a $159 culvert, back-fill with gravel, and it is done. But honestly, I HATE culverts. Yes they work, but they are 100% utilitarian and UGLY!
Anyone have any ideas on what should be done? I have an upcoming meeting with the engineers this week, and while they control funding, ultimately as the landowner it is my say in the matter.
I will try to get some photos of the area I would like to Ford/Bridge/Ditch, but still am not sure exactly what to do. Thanks for the replies though. A lot to consider, but I will converse with the engineer this week and get her take on it.
My opinion & experience, nothing more. Fords are nice, but only with solid lead ins and outs. (You really shouldn't be going into fields that are wet with tractors and equip., by the way. Compaction and ruts are not nice.) Bridges are pretty (or can be) but in the long term are a maintenance problem. Culverts are the best solution, for a variety of reasons not the least of which is cost. If you want "pretty" put in a longer culvert and plant bushes or whatever at either end. I have mint and berries at either end of mine. BUT, I would not back fill culvert with gravel. Water tends to want to "sneak" down outside of culvert and will eventually wash the culvert out. Before you bury the pipe, add a plate to it (sorta like the interior wood stove plate you add for looks and sealing the chimney pipe going thru the wall to the outside chimney) that stops any water flow down the outside of culvert. Then backfill and tamp with the most non-porous fill dirt you have. You might want to get a pipe that will handle more water than the worst flow you have ever seen. You just never know when a "hundred year" flood will happen. P.S. My culverts look great (to the extent you even notice them). Appropriate landscaping works wonders.
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Definitely something to consider Jim. I jazzy up my culvert ends up as well, but with limited success mostly because I just rock around them. On one on this project I did add an old harrow, and filled the area with bark mulch, but it still looks like I put lipstick on a pig. I did look around the internet and saw some ideas that were cuter than what I did, so an idea I had sort of discounted was resurrected, which is why I brought this up for discussion. I know some people will ask questions on forums when they already have their mind made up and just want confirmation, but that is not the case here; I really am tossed up on what to do.
The maintenance issue for a bridge is an issue, but I thought for longevity I might do what the old duffers did, and that was cover it. I will attach a photo of a covered bridge about the size and style I was considering.
One thing I often forget is that because I post so much, I assume people know what I have for equipment. I do have a small Kubota tractor, but the majority of my farming is done with my bulldozer. Its fairly small, but still weighs 11,000 pounds, which is about 4,000 pounds more then my tractor. It spreads the weight out much better, but has to be factored into any of the Ford/Culvert/Bridge designs too.
Do you need the water to be able to flow from one side of the swale to the other? If the swale's on contour, you might be able to just fill in a crossing wherever you want and provide overflow on both parts of the now-separated swale.
No it has to move water from the top of the hill all the way to the bottom. It is moving a lot of water during spring run-off too, but not so much the other times of the year. I am not sure what the velocity or volume is, but there is 40 acres or so of open land above where the bridge/culvert/ford will be. I considered installing a double-ditch for 100 year events, but they are hard to cut without an excavator/grader and I got a bulldozer. To that end I just made a really wide, and deep swale; darn near a settling pond to be honest with you. I almost suggested one, but was smart enough to look up what a USDA-NRCS settling pond consisted of before saying so. Their requirements are pretty crazy and downright ugly, so I'll call it a swale on steroids instead.
I am not sure what they plan to do for cross-culverts going up the hill. They are required every 160 feet on a road with an 8% grade, but I cannot see the point of them here. There is no way to dissipate the discharge because of the lay of the land and the direction of the road. I know I am NOT cutting into my good fields just to dump the water knowing it is just going to turn and come back into the ditch of the road again. I consumed enough land just making good ditches for my roadway. In other words, it does not matter if the water is shifted from the right to the left of the roadway, it is still coming straight down the hill. I suggested rock check dams, but the Fed's like to over-complicate things sometimes, so it will be interesting what they suggest. If it is within reason I won't say too much, but will balk if it seems excessive.
So far I have been able to talk them into reasonable concessions, with the only exception being geofabric. They claim it is required, and it might be, but I am going to try one more time this week to get away from that garbage.
The first is a photo about halfway across the field. This shows how I tried to jazzy up a culvert with an old harrow I had kicking around, as well as to keep the trucks coming down the hill and into the Tee-Intersection from running their trailers over the culvert.
The second shows the bridge abutment I started and where I am thinking about putting a bridge/culvert/ford.
The third shows the Swale on Steroids, which is more of a settling pond then anything. As you can see from the photo I had a ton of silt down here from how the water came down the hill and just eroded everything. You can also see the bridge abutment I started.
Well the soil engineer came back with her engineered design, and it is both good and bad.
(1) She took one look at the roadways sub-grade I put in, saw how the logging trucks had really packed it down and said using geotextile fabric would be absolutely silly. I agreed and did not want to put the junk down in the first place. That was a communication error however because she could not picture what I envisioned, and she thought I was just going to put a foot of gravel across a field and call it good. Hardly, my sub-grade is 2 feet deep and has not even got the gravel on it yet. In any case that saves me several hundred dollars!
(2) She liked how the grade had changed from a varying from 5% to 9% to a pretty consistent 8% up the whole hill. She also liked the vertical alignment at the intersection, and the 80 foot radius too.
(3) She liked the swale-on-steroids
(4) She said I can use field stone for my check dams saving me from buying crushed rip-rap
(4) She said she "worked in a world of gray" and was not going to be concerned too much about exact distances from check dam to check dam, and rod dip to road dip.
(1) They said access to my smaller field "is on me". They would help me plan it, but that I would have to pay for it. I have a little heart burn over that as this is what the road is for: field access. However I really can't push it too far because they have saved me so much money in other areas like agreeing I do not need geotextile fabric, approving of the gravel in my own gravel pit, and not requiring culverts. It sucks though.
(2) Additionally they said because I was paid to construct the swales, I cannot impede them. That means NO CULVERTS. I can span them (bridge), and I can go under them (Ford), but I cannot limit the the swale. Where they wanted me to build a Ford, and where I have been crossing (or would have put in a culvert) has been leveled with gravel so the swale is about four feet deep. There is no way I can wallow into a Ford, not build my rock above the bottom of the existing swale, and expect to get 3 point hitch equipment across...no way.
(3) I have to install road dips, or rubber razors on my roadway because it is too steep. Words cannot describe how bad that sucks! (I thought that was the whole purpose of the crown in the road!).
The total payout for roadway is $9705 which is pretty good considering, but I had hoped to save a lot of money by using my own gravel. The Federal Soil Engineer did approve it. But when I contacted a contractor, he gave me a quote of $7000, and I was like no way, I can truck it in for $5000. Even then it would only leave me with $4000. I am too cheap for that.
In essence it was silly, I have a gravel pit 1/2 mile away, unused and approved by the engineer; I just had to move what I needed up to my road.
Well I do have a dump trailer...sort of. It only holds 1 yard of gravel and I need 300 cubic yards. That would be 300 trips! I cannot do that...or can I? I can put my dump trailer on my truck and haul it with that, then load the gravel out of the gravel bank and into the dump trailer with my Kubota tractor. It takes 4 bucket fulls to fill the sump trailer. It is quite the job, but I have already moved 800 cubic yards just for the sub-base of the roadway so my tractor can do it. Even if I only did 10 trips per day, in 30 days the job would be done. If I did 20 trips, the job would be done in just over two weeks (15 days). Fortunately, between yesterday and today I was able to move 110 cubic yards, so I got a pretty good start on it. I found I can do about 10 trips per hour, which is of course, 10 cubic yards. I figure if I had to buy that gravel, it would be about $16 a cubic yard, so for every hour I work, I am putting $160 in my own pocket. Granted I won't get paid until after the earth works project is done, but its nice to think I can keep all $9705 instead just $2000 by doing it myself.
The point here is that you can do big jobs by doing them yourselves, probably faster then you think, with small equipment. The key is to stay at it. Trust me, it got a little dull making trip after trip this afternoon. But it pays off too.
Here is a picture of my dump trailer.
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