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Mutton

Query on cleaning silted and overgrown ditches

So we have a ditch across our land that is silted up and overgrown - grass, reeds. We've been working along it with spades and that is getting pretty old..... (so are we).

For most of its length there are mature trees that would make it very difficult to use a mechanical digger - and we absolutely, do not want to damage, let alone cut down the trees.

Any suggestions for a small scale mechanical/powered method for cleaning this out? Ideally something that would cope with breaking up the plants and remove them and the silt - just onto the bank would be fine.
Ty Gwyn

Without a photo to show the extent of the tree`s along the ditch,
I`d say there lies the problem with the silting,tree roots and leaves.

Can you not compromise and trim the tree`s back to allow a digger in?
Hairyloon

There are some very small diggers available, are you sure you can't get one in?
Other than that, I can only suggest a water cannon. Wink
Rob R

There are some very small diggers available, are you sure you can't get one in?


What the 'loon said. There was an episode of George Clarke's Amazing Spaces recently where they drove one through the house, with standard doors, to get it into the garden, so I suspect you can manage it without too much cutting back.
Hairyloon

Also, it rarely hurts to give trees a bit of a trim: if they're mature they can probably lose some lower branches quite happily and look better for it.
Mistress Rose

You may be able to hire one of the tiny ones, but you should also look at the wheels to make sure they are large enough to cope with the ground. If it is an old ditch it was probably kept open every year by the hedger and ditcher who dug it out, threw the mud under the hedge and layed the hedge too, so wouldn't be designed for mechanical diggers.
Treacodactyl

Do you need to clear it out? It's not uncommon to see ditches deliberately filled with branches to slow the water down.

Could you dig a new one parallel? No trees to worry about and a normal sized digger could be used?
Mistress Rose

It very much depends upon what the ditch is for, the effect of it on the larger drainage system and vice versa. In some places drainage has been recently partly blocked as it was cutting back and draining wanted mires. Trees and branches are also left to slow down water to prevent flooding downstream by keeping the water back and releasing it more slowly.

In other cases, blocked ditches have been the cause of significant flooding of adjacent and upstream property.

I know of examples of both within Hampshire, so would recommend finding out the how that ditch fits in before going with one or the other.
Mutton

Thanks all. We've been maintaining it by hand for some years and know how it fits in the wider landscape and that it needs clearing or "upstream" will flood. It is very shallow in terms of pitch/flow. We always leave a rim of plants for the wildlife and follow good practice.
Mechanical digger is a no-no, there are other access issues as well as the trees - a really small digger such as described wouldn't be able to reach.
Digging a new one is out - apart from other considerations it starts on someone else's land and continues across our other neighbour.

We just got behind last year and this year it is far more work and we have limited time, so were hoping for an easier, faster option.
Rob R

What are the other access issues? It sounds like paying someone to do the work is going to be the only option that will suit all the criteria, but it's hard to say without seeing it.
dpack

det cord ,three strands twisted into a rope should empty a smallish ditch and trim any low branches:lol:
Mutton

We are not going down the mechanical digger/tree trimming route.

We were hoping for an answer along the lines of "ooh I've used the super-duper (TM) silt sucker and its great." Or "I made a xxx I can sell you one" etc

I've been looking on line (from before posting this question) and so far all tools seem to be split between pond vacuum cleaners - which would do what we want but would have to be emptied every other minute - and whacking great hydraulic/diesel things for use on building sites.

Once we have the plants out and are back on to keeping the silt levels down, anyone got any suggestions for a mechanical way, ideally pumping, for removing silt? Has someone used a pond vacuum cleaner in such a way that it is not a bucket at a time but got some sort of continuous output?
We just want a way of moving the silt from the bottom of the run, to the top of the bank next to it, that doesn't involve us and a spade each.
Rob R

Something such as this?
Mutton

That looks promising, thanks Rob. Could use it to clean the yard too. Stuff sweeping. Smile
Mutton

Further to previous - Rob, do you have a BigBrute or other farmyard/industrial vac of your own?
Rob R

No, bur I used one in a previous job & it was very effective for hoovering the farm yard.
onemanband

Have you tried searching under 'suction excavators' or 'vacuum excavators' ?
Will mostly throw up big machines, but a few trailer mounted and small tracked machines out there, also a few smaller things like on Rob's link.
Mutton

Thanks Rob

@onemanband - I hadn't, no, not even heard of such things. I did searches with things like "silt pump" and "ditch/pond clearance" and the like. Some fun things on YouTube, like a whacking great pump hung off a JCB pumping silt out of a drainage cut on the Somerset Levels, and pumps with an agitator on the front that can pump gravel but...
I'll go do those searches. Good idea.

(The silt pumps are generally needing tractors, or three phase electricity, or are a 2m cube diesel thing. Lovely engineering, but.....)
onemanband


@onemanband
I'll go do those searches. Good idea.


Don't get your hopes up. My search terms will mostly throw up stuff that is too big. Worth a look tho.

There's also 'air spades' - basically blasting with compressed air - dunno if that's of interest/relevance.
dpack

my first option is fun and easy though it might upset the wildlife

it was the "farming with dynamite" post years ago that made me think of it and a quick google chi confirmed that it works with modern kit .

a big hoover seems a nice tool ,my 50 lt one was ace for blocked drains ,builders muck etc .

maybe a pressure hose and a slurpy tube combo would be the machine for small ditches

a 500m rise of mud is my idea of a fun morning Laughing
Ty Gwyn

How long,wide and deep is this ditch?
Presume the silting is due to the field being flat,not that the tree roots help,but is it the same situation either side of you on the neighbour`s land?
How much water does this ditch carry?
RichardW

Unless this if a concrete ditch of some sort I cant see a vacuum even one of steroids being up to the job. Perhaps if you also use an air spade to do the digging / shaping of the ditch & then use the Vac to remove whats left over.
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