Building a levee

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Building a levee

Postby duxrok » Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:26 pm

It was suggested that I put this question on this part of the forum to maybe get some help...so...

My buddies and I got access to an Ag field in the heart of Southern Illinois between the Ohio River and the Cache River that would be great for flooding/duck hunting. The farmer has green lighted us flooding it. To do this, we need to build a levee around 2 sides of the field that would give us about 12 acres of water. Asking around, some say the best way to do what I want is with a levee plow or terrace plow like what is used to build rice field levees. This land is located in So. Illinois, and finding a plow like that down there seems on the edge of impossible.

My question to anyone that can help is if I want to build a levee approximately 600 yards long and 18-24" high...what is the best way to do this if I can't find a levee plow? I talked to a guy at a Bobcat rental place that told me that a Bobcat would mound up dirt, but wouldn't compact it enough to keep water back. He suggested a Dozer because it would pack in the dirt to make the levee sound. It makes sense.

I was wondering if anyone had experience building a levee that could give me some tips, pointers, or could tell me how they have done this?

Thanks in advance for any advice anyone is willing to share.

ps- I don't know how to delete a post from the Conservation/Biology page...but its duplicated there if a mod would like to delete it.
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Re: Building a levee

Postby talltimber » Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:38 pm

You have access to a stout 4-way blade and tractor to handle it?


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Re: Building a levee

Postby possumfoot » Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:43 pm

you DO NOT want to use a levee plow.. track hoe is the way to go.. put a 3 foot levee up with a water control structure.. take my advice and thank me later.
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Re: Building a levee

Postby OGblackcloud » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:38 pm

Shovel it
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Re: Building a levee

Postby sampsonhuntin » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:59 pm

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Re: Building a levee

Postby aunt betty » Thu Mar 20, 2014 7:39 pm

Not suggesting it but why couldn't a guy use a road grader and make a levee?
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Re: Building a levee

Postby ByersFarm » Thu Mar 20, 2014 7:47 pm

You can betty. I use our grader to cut ditches, and when you do that the spoil dirt forms a levee on the high side. I wouldn't use a track hoe on ground that I didn't own. I doubt the landowner would want you to anyway. I'm not sure how far away you are from a levee disk, but for twelve acres it's the way I would go. Put a spill in and you're done.
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Re: Building a levee

Postby aunt betty » Thu Mar 20, 2014 8:07 pm

Nearest rice to where they are at is approximately 175 miles give or take.
If that's the best way all they need to do is wait until rice is planted and go rent the levee disc.
How much would a good rate for that be?
Just curious. This stuff intrigues me and I want to learn all about rice farming.
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Re: Building a levee

Postby possumfoot » Thu Mar 20, 2014 8:11 pm

what grade do you think you have? 1% is @ 1 inch per 100 feet. at a say 5% grade, a 15in tall levee will only push water 100 yards out. being in Ill and being as you only need to levee 2 sides, chances are you are a long way from 0-1% grade.
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Re: Building a levee

Postby ByersFarm » Thu Mar 20, 2014 9:11 pm

I really wouldn't have any idea what one would rent for. Around here, they're so abundant that it wouldn't be anything to get someone to pull you a levee. As far as the grade is conceded, that is something the op will have to determine. We have areas that won't hold 12 acres between the levees and we have some areas that hold over 60 acres between the levees.
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Re: Building a levee

Postby aunt betty » Thu Mar 20, 2014 9:31 pm

ByersFarm wrote:I really wouldn't have any idea what one would rent for. Around here, they're so abundant that it wouldn't be anything to get someone to pull you a levee. As far as the grade is conceded, that is something the op will have to determine. We have areas that won't hold 12 acres between the levees and we have some areas that hold over 60 acres between the levees.

I've noticed that by looking at aerial (googlemaps) views of rice fields. Some are fairly simple while others are a freaking maze of levees. Learned that the topography of the field determines how much of that kind of thing you have to do.
Thanks for explaining it better and using real numbers.
Something clicked in my head when you said that.

Terracing might be the best way to explain it to a non-flatlander. lol
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Re: Building a levee

Postby ByersFarm » Thu Mar 20, 2014 9:55 pm

aunt betty wrote:
ByersFarm wrote:I really wouldn't have any idea what one would rent for. Around here, they're so abundant that it wouldn't be anything to get someone to pull you a levee. As far as the grade is conceded, that is something the op will have to determine. We have areas that won't hold 12 acres between the levees and we have some areas that hold over 60 acres between the levees.

I've noticed that by looking at aerial (googlemaps) views of rice fields. Some are fairly simple while others are a freaking maze of levees. Learned that the topography of the field determines how much of that kind of thing you have to do.
Thanks for explaining it better and using real numbers.
Something clicked in my head when you said that.

Terracing might be the best way to explain it to a non-flatlander. lol

That's exactly right. It's essentially a topo map. The flatter it is the wider the levees are spread apart. A general rule when looking at one on google earth is that the lower portion of the field will have the flatter areas. From there levees generally point up hill.
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Re: Building a levee

Postby ByersFarm » Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:00 pm

This isn't ours, but see if you can tell how many ways this field breaks. Image
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Re: Building a levee

Postby ByersFarm » Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:02 pm

This one is easier to see the bottom. Image
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Re: Building a levee

Postby t_baker » Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:16 pm

Wild guess and going with 4
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Re: Building a levee

Postby Cujo1 » Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:35 pm

To the OP. Consult with the Ag department about permits before you move a shovel full of dirt. If you can get your project approved, any piece of dirt moving equipment can be used to make a levy. However, compaction and building up your levy in small increments are major concerns. Your levy along the river will probably need to be staked or it will most likey leak. Install a water control structure that will completely drain the area for farming. You will most likely have to grade the ground towards your drain for complete water removal. Also, be careful not to get carrried away and add too much water too soon and lose all your feed too early. Good Luck with your project :thumbsup:
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Re: Building a levee

Postby ByersFarm » Fri Mar 21, 2014 7:04 am

t_baker wrote:Wild guess and going with 4

It breaks two ways. Do you see what appears to be an island on the west side of the field?
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Re: Building a levee

Postby aunt betty » Fri Mar 21, 2014 7:22 am

ByersFarm wrote:
t_baker wrote:Wild guess and going with 4

It breaks two ways. Do you see what appears to be an island on the west side of the field?

Another epiphany...think of the levees like topographical lines. The instant I read what you posted I got it. I "knew" it but it didn't click. Thanks again CB

Question. Is that "island" a good place to put a pit? I'm leaning towards "no".
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Re: Building a levee

Postby ByersFarm » Fri Mar 21, 2014 7:29 am

That's actually the highest spot in the field. In a field with that many levees, you'd have to really stack water up to be able to flood the entire area.
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Re: Building a levee

Postby t_baker » Fri Mar 21, 2014 7:31 am

ByersFarm wrote:
t_baker wrote:Wild guess and going with 4

It breaks two ways. Do you see what appears to be an island on the west side of the field?

Yeah I guessed it to be a hole same as Betty.
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Re: Building a levee

Postby aunt betty » Fri Mar 21, 2014 7:43 am

t_baker wrote:
ByersFarm wrote:
t_baker wrote:Wild guess and going with 4

It breaks two ways. Do you see what appears to be an island on the west side of the field?

Yeah I guessed it to be a hole same as Betty.

I knew it was a hump. The Canada geese up here tend to find the lowest part of a field to rest in.
The bad (and good) part about locating the pit at the lowest spot in a field it it floods first but that's part of the game we play.


Here's a topo tip for ya...The closer the lines are...the steeper the grade.
Those levees that are stacked up are the "steepest" part of the field. We're talking inches, not feet.
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Re: Building a levee

Postby aunt betty » Fri Mar 21, 2014 7:46 am

If I were OP I'd rent or borrow a transit and the sticks and make a topo map of the field. It's where you start.
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Re: Building a levee

Postby SPatrick » Fri Mar 21, 2014 7:48 am

One of my impoundments we have huge grading issues, 0 grade is what you want to shoot for. A poorly graded area can turn a 30 acre field into 10 acres that are huntable very quickly. The folks that had the place before us had no clue what they were doing, and actually cut one of the levees in order to not flood a certain pit that they liked to hunt. Instead of shooting grade like they should have before placing the pit, they basically eyed it and because of the poor grade, with to much water it will flood. The amount of work that goes into developing a place, or getting it back together is staggering. Personally I sometimes think starting from the ground up might be easier... :no: Water structures are a huge deal as well, we currently have cork screw gates, but we are changing to a flash board riser system this spring, much easier to control water levels from the top down rather than the bottom up, especially if you ever plan on doing a moist soil draw down.
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Re: Building a levee

Postby aunt betty » Fri Mar 21, 2014 7:56 am

SPatrick wrote:One of my impoundments we have huge grading issues, 0 grade is what you want to shoot for. A poorly graded area can turn a 30 acre field into 10 acres that are huntable very quickly. The folks that had the place before us had no clue what they were doing, and actually cut one of the levees in order to not flood a certain pit that they liked to hunt. Instead of shooting grade like they should have before placing the pit, they basically eyed it and because of the poor grade, with to much water it will flood. The amount of work that goes into developing a place, or getting it back together is staggering. Personally I sometimes think starting from the ground up might be easier... :no: Water structures are a huge deal as well, we currently have cork screw gates, but we are changing to a flash board riser system this spring, much easier to control water levels from the top down rather than the bottom up, especially if you ever plan on doing a moist soil draw down.

Yup! If you have a "drain" and have to babysit it would suck. Dropping in another board or removing one is way easier.

I've seen a couple pits that were poorly placed and some that were perfect. It's obvious when you're standing in the field with water in it but not so obvious when dry.

Hey, I'm no expert but am learning. It's not rocket science but there is some science to developing a good hunting spot.

I've built a couple ponds and had to do all the civil engineering part myself. It took quite some time just to figure out all the topographies of the surrounding land to see "how much water are we talking about" when we get a 100-year storm.
The science is actually quite intense. Look up "hydrograph" and see what I'm talking about.
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Re: Building a levee

Postby SPatrick » Fri Mar 21, 2014 8:06 am

I am currently sitting on two of the worst placed pits in North America!!! We would have moved our big one last spring but we were under water until july, and with the draw down in place we would not have been able to put a high lift on the ground until at least September!!! Every time I see that pit, it drives me crazy. The folks before us payed someone to come and drop it in, the guy was a genius because all he did was dig down about 4 inches and pile dirt around the pit, saved himself tons of labor lol. We call it the pitchers mound, its a nightmare...
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