Field Level II: A Must For Land Design

Investing in an equipment upgrade has dramatically increased efficiency for earthmoving contractor, Mark Ratcliffe, Ratcliffe Earthmoving, Wee Waa.

Mr Ratcliffe has been a long time Trimble Agriculture customer, purchasing his original Spectra-Physics laser levelling system from local Trimble distributor, Vantage NEA, Moree. 

His business predominately focuses on earthmoving and laser levelling for irrigation industries, servicing flood irrigated cotton and cereal growers across the North West.

Mr Ratcliffe specialises in water management, surveying and developing field designs to increase water flow and prevent pooling, offering improved yields and water efficiency to growers. 

He also focuses on designing new paddocks for irrigation and redesign, such as forming multiple fields into one large field, to boost farmers’ efficiency.

Originally, Mr Ratcliffe operated on a traditional laser method to conduct his earth moving but has upgraded to GPS design in the last 12 months, using Trimble’s Field Level II and Vertical Point.

Since upgrading to Field Level II, Mr Ratcliffe said the efficiency of his business has improved tenfold.

Field Level II is a GPS based surveying, design and levelling tool that allows users to develop accurate, basic surface designs from the cab of their tractor.

Traditionally, lasers work off a 300 to 400 metre radius from a laser transmitter, meaning operators have had to constantly shift them to work on the different gradients & sections of a large paddock.

Laser accuracy is also disrupted by factors such as significant changes in temperature, high winds, and dust – a common occurrence in Mr Ratcliffe’s line of work.

“Field level II has allowed me to spend so much more time in the tractor levelling, instead of having to move laser towers, or stop because it’s too dusty,” he said.

“I used to have to spend a lot of time in the field with a staff, checking heights, but this system just gives me the field’s grades and I can develop the field designs from the tractor,” he said.

Field Level II offers a significantly larger accurate radius from a base station, made even more precise by the Vertical Point system, which corrects GPS errors during periods of atmospheric interference, allowing for more operating hours with reliable accuracy.

“I can work any time of the day now and the accuracy of the levelling doesn’t alter,” Mr Ratcliffe said.

An increase in efficiency has meant cost savings for Mr Ratcliffe and his customers, as he’s able to complete jobs so much faster.

“My machines are moving dirt more often, they’re being more productive and our customers can see that,” he said.

Mr Ratcliffe has been running the Field Level II system with Vertical Point in his tractor for 12 months and is in the process of having the system installed into another machine,

He said most likely, they’ll also add the system to a third tractor.

“That’s how impressed we are with it,” he said.

He said the Vantage NEA team in Moree have been great to work with, always providing great service and advice.

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