Dykelands were formed by the tides resulting in a fertile and flat land. Since a large percentage of soil consists of fine silt particles, drainage through the soil is very slow. Dykeland drainage therefore is based on surface drainage requiring extensive use of open ditches.
Since open ditches have to be worked around, it's very critical that they be constructed at locations that allow maximum field size. This allows for more efficient use of farm equipment as well as reduced cost for ditch maintenance
Method of Ditching
Excavator with Bucket
The advantage of this method of ditch excavation is that it can be used for almost any size of ditch. It allows ditch side slopes to be constructed to the required slope based on soil type and ditch depth. Excavators are now available that have a reach of over 50 feet and can be used for new or existing ditches. V-bucket attachments are available with side slopes of 1 horizontal to 1 vertical that in many instances can be used for depths up to 4 feet.
The disadvantages of ditching with an excavator bucket is that ditch spoil has to be levelled. Side slope and bottom vegetation are removed thus making it more vulnerable to erosion and freeze-thaw slumping especially if the work is carried out late in the fall.
Excavator with Ditch Doctor™-Rotary Ditcher
This type of machine is ideally suited for maintenance work on open ditches. The main advantage of this equipment is that it spreads the material that comes out of the ditch as it digs and only a small percentage of ditch side slope and bottom has the vegetation removed. The cost is low in comparison to using an excavator bucket for ditching and bulldozer for levelling the spoil. In most situations the complete operation can be done with a rotary ditcher for what it would cost to level spoil with a bulldozer in conventional ditching.
Bush and tree growth are becoming more prevalent in dykeland ditches. These bushes and trees can greatly restrict water flow as well as being a big hindrance when ditches have to be cleaned out. The lowest cost method of controlling this tree and bush growth is by means of spraying with a suitable herbicide when the trees and bushes are relatively small.