lbl landprep

Cost of land leveling

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The initial cost of land leveling using contractors and machinery is high. The costs vary according to the topography, the shape of the field and the equipment used. The table below shows a cost comparison for leveling one hectare of land using animals and machines.

 

Animal + leveling board

2-wheel tractor + harrows

4-wheel tractor      + blade

Purchase price ($)

500

1000

12,000

Time (days)

12

7

0.5

 

Operating cost $/ha

Labor

15.00

9.00

2.50

Fuel &oil

 

22.00

32.50

Repairs

 

5.00

7.50

Pumping costs

6.00

6.00

 

 

Fixed Cost $/ha

Depreciation orReplacement cost

12.00

4.00

7.50

Total Cost ($ ha-1)

33.00

46.00

50.00

Table: The time and cost comparison for land leveling

The table shows that the cost of leveling onehectare of land using tractors is between $40 and $50. This cost varies with the volume of soil to be moved and the soil type. Studies over many sites have shown that the actual cost ranges from $3 to $5 per 10mm of soil moved per hectare. Contractors charge between $30 and $100 per hectare.

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Land planes - smooths neither levels

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Laser-guided bucket leveler

As the sophistication of the equipment increases, so does the capital cost. A 2-meter drag bucket costs $1,000 to manufacture locally, A laser control system will cost between $6,000 and $10,000. However, using more sophisticated equipment increases the area that can be leveled each day.

The application of additional fertilizer, especially phosphate, is necessary in areas from which soil is moved. Depending on the soil type and the volume of soil moved, it may be necessary to add and extra 25 to 50kg/ha of DAP at a cost of between $6 and $13 per hectare.

Once a field has been leveled, ploughing techniques must be changed to keep it level. Farmers are encouraged to plough from the center of the field out rather than continuing to use the traditional technique of ploughing from the outside of the field in to the center. If appropriate ploughing techniques are used, re-leveling the whole field should not be necessary for at least eight to ten years. Measurements taken in fields in the second and third year after leveling have shown very little variation in surface topography. The levelness of the field has been maintained after two crops.

Financial benefits of land leveling: Although the initial cost of land leveling is an extra expense, a cash flow over a period of years shows that financial benefits do result from land leveling. The table below is a cash flow that outlines the additional cost and benefits over an eight-year period. The costs allow for an extra ploughing and extra fertilizer in the first and second years. The benefits include reduced weeding costs of 40%.

Year

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

 

Additional Cost ($ ha-1)

Leveling

50

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Plowing

15

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Fertilizer

13

6

0

0

0

0

0

0

 

Benefit ($ ha-1)

Grain yield

53

53

53

53

53

53

53

53

Reduction in weeding

8

8

8

8

8

8

8

8

Cumulative cash flow

-17

38

99

160

221

282

343

404

Table. The financial cost and benefits from land leveling ($/ha) over time.

This table shows that there are major financial benefits to be gained through land leveling. What the table does not include are the other benefits and opportunities of being able to direct seed, plow the field on time, harvest evenly ripened crop and shed floodwaters more rapidly.
 
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Level fields result in evenly ripened crop 

While poor farmers may have problems financing a contractor to level land, it is quite possible for all farmers to level part of their land each year using animals and harrows during the normal plowing cycle.