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16th & 17th July 2022

Top Tips For Levelling Your Yard This Winter! 

Laying a few road planings and pushing them around with a digger might keep you busy for a few winter days, but getting it done professionally to laser accuracy could see the last of that pothole-ridden yard for good.

We looked at how two companies are using different methods to save both time and money in the long term.

NF Services

Groundworks contractor NF Services is using a brace of Bobcat laser-guided graders to guarantee millimetre accuracy across large sites and slash outlay when spreading costly materials.

See also: A guide to fixing pothole-ridden farm tracks

Company owner Nick Foxton used to employ a 360deg digger to spread and level multiple materials on the yards and horse manèges his groundworks and fencing company tackles throughout east England.

However, the steady progress and requirement for highly skilled operatives along with the less-than-accurate spreading meant that jobs were taking longer than budgeted for and becoming costly.

He bought his first laser grader – a 2016 Bobcat machine – second hand in 2018, having never seen it work in the flesh.

However, he was convinced from watching multiple YouTube videos that it was the solution to upping work rates and precision.


When it was delivered, Mr Foxton admits it was a sink or swim moment as he had limited experience driving Bobcats, and getting the grader to work with differing levels across the site took some initial head scratching.

However, very quickly he realised the output from these little tracked machines made such an improvement that this year he bought a brand-new Bobcat 650 with a heavier duty blade to work alongside the older machine.

These graders can lay just about any material, including sand, gravel, road planings and soil.

Laser levels

The two Bobcats can work together on the same area if space allows, although typically one machine will grade, while the other ferries material with a bucket.

The grader runs from a Trimble Spectra theodolite base station and has two receivers for each side of the blade mounted high out of the way.

The laser can be set up to grade sites with dual falls, meaning a datum taken from a top corner can be set to fall away into a bottom corner, taking in two different levels.

For horse arenas, the graders can lay the subbase with a fall for water run-off with any subsequent drainage layers finished level.

Once the level from the datum point has been married with the base station height, the gap between the floor and staff height is then replicated on the grader from the bottom of the blade to the receiver on the mast above.

Levels can either be tapped into the Spectra unit or the screen inside the Bobcat 650. There is a readout for each side of the blade with errors clearly flashing up when one receiver isn’t working.

These sensors are linked to the machine via a Canbus system and blade height tweaks are adjusted continually as the machine moves around.

The machine’s hydraulics form the slowest part of the system as they keep up with constant laser tweaks. The blade is connected via two rams, one on either side, which act independently from the two-front wheel.

The sensors also have 360deg vision, so they can receive signals all the time, which doesn’t alter when the Bobcat is facing away.

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