What is the UK equivalent of the "box scraper" or "box blade" and who supplies them here?

A: Named in the USA, where many different brands are available, the box scraper or box blade has the same name in the UK and is a piece of relatively heavy equipment used in landscaping for the purpose of ripping and levelling, back blading and shaping the ground. They certainly provide an effective tool for levelling ground prior to planting, sowing or turfing. They can also be used to grade driveways.

Box scrapers generally comprise a metal blade, usually with teeth to break up hard soils, and with metal sides extending forwards from the blade. I do not think they look much like boxes - unless it is a box with no bottom or lid and with one side missing. But they do an excellent job of containing the material being levelled and have the advantage of speed over ordinary grading blades that spill soil round the edges of the blades.

Most box scrapers connect to the three-point linkage of a tractor, although there are also box scraper attachments available that fit skid-steer, tracked or articulating loaders.

Generally, box scrapers are not powered. Instead, they rely on their weight and forward movement to shift soils and materials. Some models have hydraulics to allow you to adjust the settings without leaving the tractor seat.

When choosing a box scraper or other form of grading blade, look for one that is as wide - preferably slightly wider - than your tractor or prime mover. You should be able to find scrapers to suit most tractors from compacts upwards.

You should be sure to view the BLEC Box Scraper. It has front and rear blades for positioning soil and adjustable ripping tines for loosening the ground. There are models with working widths from 1.5m (weighing 214kg and requiring tractors from 25hp to 45hp) up to 2.3m wide (weighing 690kg and needing 65hp to 100hp). An optional extra is laser equipment for precision levelling.

You should also look at the US-built Dakota Soil Movers and Box Scrapers. Imported into the UK by Campey Turf Care Systems of Cheshire, the tractor-towed units will move and level soil and sand and are suited to landscaping, grading and shaping work during construction or repair on golf courses, sports fields and other amenity sites. They have hydraulically retracting ripper teeth fitted to the front for aggressive work on compacted ground or for ripping up pathways. Working widths are 1.8m, 2.4m and 3m and these units can be adapted for laser levelling.

A fourth Dakota model is the D60 box scraper. This one weighs in at just 45kg and with a working width of 1.5m. It is designed for mounting behind bunker rakes and will shape small volumes of material as well as being useful for final levelling of the surface.

If you have a skid-steer or articulating loader, it is also worth checking available attachments. Bobcat offers a box scraper with a 2.13m grading width. It comes in two versions, one without laser for rough grading, construction and landscaping, and one with laser for precise grading to an accuracy of 6mm.

Both versions are heavy-duty and have reversible cutting edge for longer life. They are suitable for use with Bobcat S250 skid-steer loaders, T190 and T200 tracked loaders and the A220 all-wheel steer loader.

Sally Drury has reported for HW and its forerunner GC&HTJ for 28 years and has spent more than five years testing machinery for HW and What Kit? The advice in this helpline is independent.

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