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  1. #1
    Member
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    Oct 2009
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    33
    Location
    Humble,TX
    Tractor
    Anything above 80hp (I use too many different ones now)

    Default Turning 100+acres of grassland into farmland?

    Hi all, I just joined and wanted some input and advice on what I should do about this project.

    I have around 200 acres on lease to grow bio-diesel (the plan is first rapeseeds then jatropha) and started to run the logistics of the operation to do such a feat. I am a greenhorn of this trade but will learn really fast (I mean an asian guy driving a 2500HD diesel truck +owning a tractor, I think I'm one in a million in the usa haha). The land that is leased to me is in east texas currently where switch grass/weeds are high (2-4') and chinese tallows are pretty common (my dad's friend took out all the trees on his property with his backhoe).

    To start off my undertaking, I bought a used tractor on an auction house for 1300$. The tractor is a Yanmar YM2010 (compact tractor) with 900 hrs on it. The people said I got a steal and after much research (always go in with a budget/goal of undercutting) it was a good investment.

    I have zero accessories (will probably need some but do not know which ones + lots of practice working with them) but some input on clearing and cultivating would greatly be appreciated!

  2. #2
    Super Star Member Egon's Avatar
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    Aug 2001
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    17,771
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    Nova Scotia, Canada

    Default Re: Turning 100+acres of grassland into farmland?

    Best be doing a little more planning on all the equipment you will need from cultivating, planting, fertilizer, spraying, harvesting, storage and transportation.

    You will find that your present tractor may not be capable of doing the required work in the time frame you have available for the jobs.

    Look around and see what others have for equipment and methods used as the methods will change from area to area.
    Egon
    50 years behind the times
    Livin in a
    Worn out skin bag filled with rattlin bones

  3. #3
    Gold Member Stampeder's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    283
    Location
    East Texas
    Tractor
    Montana 4940C, FEL, Quick change 3 point factory hitch, pallet forks, grapple, 50 gal tank sprayer, Bush Hog PHD

    Default Re: Turning 100+acres of grassland into farmland?

    Mike:

    I too live in East Texas and own a 50HP Montana cab tractor.
    You will have a challenge for sure with only a 25 hp tractor and 100 acres. I have enough with 15 acres and a 50hp tractor. Mine has A/C which makes working on the land in this country bearable.
    If the land has been pasture and not worked for a while you will need to break it with a bottom plow, then disk it. This will promote moisture penetration and allow the Canola (rapeseed is now called Canola) to get a good root structure.
    Are you planning to use the whole plant for biodiesel or just the seeds?

    BTW I don't think your the only asian guy.....there are lots more that have been here farming since the building of the railroads a hundred years ago.......

    Good luck.
    Glenn

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    33
    Location
    Humble,TX
    Tractor
    Anything above 80hp (I use too many different ones now)

    Default Re: Turning 100+acres of grassland into farmland?

    Thanks Stampeder! Well, everytime I go to college with my truck a lot of folks point and laugh at me as if I am out of my mind and I seem to be the only asian with a diesel truck haha

    I will definitely check out your suggestion on equipment, initially I have to cut down the tall weeds and kill them in order to clear the land and use other machinery to make it ready to plant these rapeseeds. I'm only interested in the seeds so the plants will die each year.

    Yeah I know its going to be a slippery slope and a lot of work, but hard work pays off in time!
    The meaningful competition in life is not to die with the most things but to do the most good in the world after you left it.

    Yanmar YM2210 Tractor| 04' Chevy Duramax Crewcab| 03 ford f250 greasetruck | F550 7.3L 16' flatbed

  5. #5
    Super Member texasjohn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
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    5,596
    Location
    Central Texas, Jarrell
    Tractor
    Kubota 5030HSTC

    Default Re: Turning 100+acres of grassland into farmland?

    Welcome to TBN... lots to read about here...and, you are going to learn a lot in the next year... looking forward to your future posts...you are off to a great start by describing carefully your background, skill, objectives and including photos... we love photos!

    You've got a lot of irons in the fire... there will be a lot of reality to contend with as you proceed. Time is your enemy, along with the weather and distance as you finish your degree, work your business and farm 200 acres. Don't plan on any sleep for a while.

    I wish you all the best. I'm 40 miles or so north of you if you ever wish to drop by for a visit. Be glad to offer advice and ideas worth every penny of what you pay for it
    Joy is having the tools you need and needing the tools you have!

    Kubota 5030 HSTC, BB, Danueser PHD, LA853 QA HD FEL w JD toothbar, 3pt chisel, 3 pt disk, 6' shredder, Kubota FEL hay spike, 3pt hay fork w carryall, Kubota RTV 1140

  6. #6
    Bronze Member rhofford's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    53
    Tractor
    White 2-105, Cockshutt 770

    Default Re: Turning 100+acres of grassland into farmland?

    Not trying to be negative or discourage you at all, I share my experience. I recently ripped up 70 acres of alfalfa hay land to plant either canola (rapeseed) or wheat next year. I did this with a 105hp tractor, 12ft heavy disk, 14ft deep tiller with spikes, 53ft diamond bar harrow then moved on to a 25ft deep tiller with 16" sweep shovels.

    I disked twice early spring, deep tilled with the spikes as deep as I could go, then deep tilled 5 more times with the 25ft and sweeps. I harrowed between every operation some times twice.

    I have approximately 120 hours into that 70 or so acres with the size of equipment I have. Also all in all the tractor I used was likely too small for 25ft. I hope by the time I need to rip up a full 160acres I can afford bigger equipment.

    FYI, my grandpa worked the same land with Massey 44, so it is possible with your yanmar
    The Edge....there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. - HST

  7. #7
    Super Member flusher's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    6,538
    Location
    Sacramento
    Tractor
    Sold the farm, sold the tractors, moved back to the city

    Default Re: Turning 100+acres of grassland into farmland?

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeyee View Post
    Hi all, I just joined and wanted some input and advice on what I should do about this project.

    I have around 200 acres on lease to grow bio-diesel (the plan is first rapeseeds then jatropha) and started to run the logistics of the operation to do such a feat. I am a greenhorn of this trade but will learn really fast (I mean an asian guy driving a 2500HD diesel truck +owning a tractor, I think I'm one in a million in the usa haha). The land that is leased to me is in east texas currently where switch grass/weeds are high (2-4') and chinese tallows are pretty common (my dad's friend took out all the trees on his property with his backhoe).

    To start off my undertaking, I bought a used tractor on an auction house for 1300$. The tractor is a Yanmar YM2010 (compact tractor) with 900 hrs on it. The people said I got a steal and after much research (always go in with a budget/goal of undercutting) it was a good investment.

    I have zero accessories (will probably need some but do not know which ones + lots of practice working with them) but some input on clearing and cultivating would greatly be appreciated!
    Wow, 200 acres with a Yanmar--expect to rack up a lot of seat time. And you'll wear out that little tractor in a hurry.

    By way of example, a neighbor of mine farms 200 acres of hayfield (oat hay). He uses a 165 hp Stieger Super Wildcat and 20-ft wide implements like the offset disc shown hooked to that beast.

    -dscf0090-small-jpg

    -dscf0091-small-jpg

    -dscf0095-small-jpg

    In addition, he has a big IH tractor with rear duallies to pull a 20-ft wide spring tooth cultivator with a trailing spike tooth harrow chained to it.

    -dscf0117-small-jpg

    The offset disc does the primary tillage. He follows with the cultivator/spike tooth to break up the clods and level the field.
    Seeding is done with a 20-ft wide grain drill with a cultipacker attachment.

    Lotsa acreage ==> biiiiigggg tractors and laaaaarge implements.

    I just finished the first tilling of my 6-acre hayfield using my Mahindra 5525 tractor (54 hp engine, 45 hp pto) and a 6.5 ft offset disc. So far I've spent about 4.5 hours and will probably put in 15-20 hours more work until it's ready for planting (oat hay).

    -dscf0112-small-jpg

    -dscf0114-small-jpg

    I wouldn't even think of trying to farm a 200-acre field with that 5525. I'm 68 years old and after about 2 hours in the seat, I'm ready to quit for the day and do something else. To me, tilling a hayfield gets very boring very quickly.

  8. #8
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    33
    Location
    Humble,TX
    Tractor
    Anything above 80hp (I use too many different ones now)

    Default Re: Turning 100+acres of grassland into farmland?

    Thank you all with your inputs, I'm definitely keeping my options open and looking at tractor auction houses for something that fits my needs.

    Though these leases of land (under a 5-10 year contract) will continue to grow since I go out and get more, I will definitely need to get more equipment (big tractors and attachments). This definitely is not a one man operation; I have a bunch of family and friends helping me out and like to learn more of this challenge. I got to hand it to you farmers, you definitely make it look easy

    So for starters I would probably use my yanmar to clear my own land of 25 acres and for the other 200+ hold off on that until early next year. I will buy 2 big tractors (one for me and one for my dad, he's 58) to go out and try the larger scale operation.

    To give you a rough figure, each acre that I can use will equate to 100 gallons of bio-diesel a year (first canola). That doesn't sound too much but once I get these jatropha seeds and plants in that'll go up to 200-400 gallons a year (but will increase labor costs/different picking methods). I won't need irrigation for jatropha because its a very strong plant (I have a bunch that survived without water for 3 months!) There currently are zero restrictions on the plant since its not an evasive species and the US department of agriculture just wants me to put up precaution signs (don't eat the seeds, etc) to insure no one gets sick. My goal by the end of next year is to plow 300 acres I hope I can reach it!

    I will go out there on the land this weekend and do some surveying, plot it in autocad, and post pictures of the land. Good thing in east texas is the fact the land is very flat and not very rocky until you go about 5-8 feet under. I'll continue to work on my plan and keep updating it for those that are interested and those that would be nice and give a viewpoint/input that is different perspective!
    The meaningful competition in life is not to die with the most things but to do the most good in the world after you left it.

    Yanmar YM2210 Tractor| 04' Chevy Duramax Crewcab| 03 ford f250 greasetruck | F550 7.3L 16' flatbed

  9. #9
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    6,396
    Location
    Wise county Texas
    Tractor
    Kioti DK 35 now

    Default Re: Turning 100+acres of grassland into farmland?

    One thing you may do, is look from central Texas up through the panhandle. You will likely find some good deals on larger tractors. I had a Case 150 hp I used on 386 acres but I only managed about 200 acres of it. I used mine mostly for haying, but in the fall I would usually plow to put in oats. I have gotten deep enough with a 14' chisel to almost shut me down in our black clay. I think a 150 hp would do you good if she's strong, or if 4x4 for sure.

    What I have found is used large tractors are somewhat cheaper than the small ones since the demand is for 20-50 hp mini farm tractors. (no offense guy's, one I have now is only 38hp)
    The implements are what can get you, so take care of what you get and keep up on the maintenance. A large tractor can do allot of damage in a hurry to a loose or damaged attachment.

    Also factor in your farm diesel it adds up faster than you think and use every agriculture tax credit you can find.

    I never seen a rich farmer as far as cash goes.....

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    33
    Location
    Humble,TX
    Tractor
    Anything above 80hp (I use too many different ones now)

    Default Re: Turning 100+acres of grassland into farmland?

    I'll probably spend more days/weeks/months looking on which tractor to get but definitely above 100 hp since I don't want to be out there and not get much accomplished. My bottleneck on this project also is my carrying capacity. With my chevy 2500HD I can tow at max around 12,000 lbs. My dad (also an engineer) always tells me that 10,000lbs should be the max I should do. So my tractor will have to weigh in around 7-8k lbs (1-2k for the attachment I use for the day, and 2k for trailer). So I guess that puts me around a 100-125hp shopping list?

    Also I've been always an avid auction buyer and always find great deals on them (I use proxibid.com). To tell a few short stories, I bought 3 stainless steel tanks mixing tanks (1000 gal each) totaling 6k lbs for 1200$. Some 500 gal ones went for 4k but I waited for the great deals after they blew off their money on the initial merchandise (patience is key!). Went from Humble, TX to Des Moines, Iowa with a 1986 custom gmc van (now rip) and hauled it back 2 summers ago. Second I bought pumps/other equipment for bio-diesel for 30$ each brand new from florida and etc. I've been everywhere to squeeze the dollars and I guess I will do the same for this. I always call ahead and ask them about it, there is always risk involved but that's life.

    As far as attachments, I'm guessing for that size, they will cost a lot? Time to keep on reading Thanks again for your advice! I definitely want to have this all ready by mid/late-december and be diligent in it!
    The meaningful competition in life is not to die with the most things but to do the most good in the world after you left it.

    Yanmar YM2210 Tractor| 04' Chevy Duramax Crewcab| 03 ford f250 greasetruck | F550 7.3L 16' flatbed

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