High Productivity Pulldozer OptiSurfacing Melonhole Country

Updated 2 Oct 2013

Nev Boland has been busy OptiSurface landforming a 350ha (875 acre) field on the family farm at Moonie Queensland, Australia. 

“Melonholes are irregular depressions ranging in depth from 30cm to 150 cm deep and 1 to 15m across , which can really spoil your day if you are farming them in rainy seasons.” said Nev.

He went on to say “The levelling is going well. We have the northern part of the paddock nearly finished which is 175ha. I will have to use the carry all bucket to carry a small amount of dirt to fill around the drain and do a final trim over the paddock, but otherwise all is good.”

“We did two passes overall , then concentrated on bad areas with a lot of circle work etc . Hopefully today or tonight the 175ha will be done with the pulldozer . It has 166 hours on the clock now.
It will still need a touch up with the carry all bucket to carry a bit of dirt to a few isolated holes, probably take a day or two of this then its all done . I lot quicker then the 1 acre per hour (0.4ha/hr) with the laser bucket and multiplane we used to average.”

He is using a 7.2m wide pulldozer imported from Canada along with one of the world’s most powerful production (585hp) tractors, the Cat MT875C and taking about 3 passes to get to the finished design surface. Due to the extensive melonhole topography, a significant amount of soil was require to fill the depressions and the design came at an average of 380 m3/ha (200yd3/acre).

A major advantage of the OptiSurface design is that almost all of the field was continuous cut-fill-cut-fill with no large areas of continuous cut or fill. This suits the pulldozer and makes it very efficient earthmoving and limits any remediation required in deep cut areas.


He is averaging about 3 ha per hour with three passes resulting in a finished rate of 1ha/hr (2.5 acre/hr).  That also equates to an earthmoving productivity of about 380m3/hr (500yd3/hr) which is very good going but he doesn’t have to shift the earth too far as he is typically cutting for 15m then filling for 15m as shown in the video (link below). Assuming a total cost rate of US$250/hr for the machine and operator, 380m3/hr (500yd3/hr) equates to around US$0.66/m3 (US$0.50/yd3) which is a very low cost per cubic meter.

Watch the machine in action on this YouTube video – Click Here.
(Thanks to Nev Boland for the great video)

If you want to see the problems Nev was having such as wet harvests before OptiSurface Landforming check this video:  Wet harvest with melonhole country (YouTube)

if you would like to know more details about the design email me at: graeme.cox (at) optisurface (dot) com.

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