Before visiting the link from the Circle Ranch on using the Keyline Plow, here are some things to think about in order to see the financial benefits as many people can see the benefits, but think it is too expensive. Yet these same people are busy making diversion dams and dirt tanks which help some, but basically are diverting water or holding it so it can water a few cow and evaporate.
The cost of sub soiling with the Keyline Plow runs $20 an acre, which does sound expensive, until you compare the results. $20,000 put into subsoiling 1,000 acres of ground with scattered grass and forbes will explode with the first one inch rain (remember, that 1,000 acres just received 27,154,000 gallons of water which would have run off). This explosion of grass and forbes will slow the water and make each subsequent rain be more effective.
Grazed properly this can amount to 7 to 9 days of feed for 1,000 cows, or 7,000 grazing days the first year. If one continues to graze properly, the feed will continue to improve for several years and continue to hold its feed value (not to mention the wildlife habitat it creates.) Now lets compare what that same $20,000 will bring with conventional uses.
Dirt Tanks- Will hold water for cattle without producing feed. They will also evaporate water (at a pan evaporation rate of 88” or 55 gallons per square foot) lose 2,395,800 per acre. Figuring the cost of water being .005 cents per gallon, one is basically throwing away $11,979 worth of water per every acre of water held in dirt tanks. If you have 100 acres of water in dirt tanks, you are basically throwing away $1,197,900 worth of water each year.
Diversion dams- These will create some feed growth but basically still divert billions of gallons of water off the ranch rather than into the ground. Many also have a tendency to wash out and need to be repaired after a few years.
Hay- At $230 A 1,000 pound cow eating 3.5% of her body weight will eat 35 pounds of hay a day. To feed 1,000 cows per day would take 17 bales per day. $20,000 will (almost) buy 87 bales of hay which would feed 1,000 cows five days.
This means that spending $20,000 to run a Keyline Plow in the proper areas your money produces nearly twice the actual benefit of hay. While it would be nearly impossible to calculate the true value of diversion dams, they are of minimal benefit as they are still diverting water off your ranch, rather than putting it into the ground. Dirt tanks have some benefit if you do not have pump-able water, but otherwise you are letting millions of dollars worth of water blow away in the wind.
Now that you have an idea of the cost/benefit ratio of the Keyline plow, take a look and see what they have done with it on the Circle Ranch in far west Texas!