Deep Ripping Services

Vineyard and Orchard Removal – Replacement Groundwork Specialist

“We cried when they shattered our hardpan, it was the happiest day of our lives!”

A&L Services, Inc. has the big deep-ripping equipment to support your Northern California orchard and vineyard preparation and replacement. We have five Dozer D8s, one Dozer D7, and one Dozer D6. All bulldozers are fitted with GPS, front blades, and rear ripping shanks with slip plows; with all the other big toys necessary to complete your next commercial growing project.

Orchard and Vineyard Development

Our fleet of heavy equipment can take care of any type of dirt work, soil preparation, or orchard development including:

  • Vineyard/orchard removal
  • Deep Ripping
  • Vineyard/orchard site preparation
  • Reservoir enlargement
  • Discing
  • Tri-plane work
  • Pond building
  • Road building

A&L Services is based in Davis, CA, Our operations cover most of Northern California, We serve Yolo, Solano, Napa, Lake, Sacramento, and most other counties north of Stockton, CA on a regular basis.

Orchard and Vineyard Development

A&L Services, inc. Caterpillar D8N with ripping shank

For an orchard or vineyard to be successful, the planting area needs to have usable soil which is available at a depth greater than what currently exists above the Northern California upper hardpan layer. Grapevines, almond trees, and other orchard trees need drainage to prevent the roots from sitting in a pool of water and rotting. Deep ripping the soil is necessary to allow the roots to penetrate the hardpan layers and to provide adequate drainage for the root system.

Building a vineyard almost always requires a deep soil ripping process to break up compacted soil layers that can block proper drainage or prevent root access to subterranean moisture. Deep ripping improves the soil structure to provide an ideal environment for deep root development.

Over thousands of years, soils were formed with different strata layers at different depths composed of soil, clay, sand and rock materials. Some of these strata layers serve as extremely hard barriers. These hardpan layers pose a complication to proper moisture management and optimal root development in vineyards and orchards.

Preparing a site to build an orchard or vineyard requires special equipment combined with a rational plan for success. Northern California hardpan layers are located between two to six feet below the surface. The deep ripping contractor’s Caterpillar D8 bulldozers are equipped with 3’ to 6’ shanks to break through the hardpan layers. The testing process will help determine the proper equipment to use on the project.

The most common practice when breaking through the hardpan layers is to deep rip the ground in two directions using a Caterpillar D8 Dozer pulling a single shank with a slip plow attachment to rip the soil 5.5 to 6 feet deep and shattering the hardpan layers. The soil is usually ripped in two directions to achieve the maximum balance of cost and benefit. If the deep ripping process was skipped, the roots would grow down about two feet and get stuck at the first layer of hardpan resulting in low quality fruit and disappointing production outcomes.

The benefits of deep ripping the vineyard are not limited to just giving the roots more volume for growing capacity (like when you transplant a tomato plant to a larger pot), it also mixes the soil layers and nutrients as well as creates a larger capacity for the soil to support water and nutrients as desired. A two-direction rip usually provides the optimal balance between cost and benefit. Additional passes can be beneficial, but in most situations, does not warrant the additional cost.

Soil Testing

Testing is required prior to starting the deep ripping process. Testing helps determine the depths of the hardpan layers and to determine the best equipment for the job. A backhoe is used to dig into the soil and assess the depths of the hardpan layers. Soil samples are collected for testing to determine the soil pH and other factors. Testing help growers decide which additives, such as compost, fertilizer, pot ash, gypsum, or lime, are required (or desired) and how much of each is needed to improve soil structure to optimum conditions for the planting of the vineyard or orchard. These materials help improve the physical characteristics of the soil and are applied based upon the condition of the soil and the needs of the grower. The grower (or consultant) usually has a desired depth to which they would like to rip in preparation for their orchard or vineyard. By knowing the terrain and understanding the grower’s requirements, we can provide the right heavy equipment and help prepare the soil to their specifications for an optimal growing environment.

Soil Preparation

Timing the project for the correct moisture content in the fields is an important factor, ripping excessively wet fields will merely cut trenches in the planting area and not achieve the desired fracturing of the soil and will not attain the appropriate mixing of the hardpan layers.  After the additions of the selected supplements for soil remediation takes place to adjust pH and increase the supplemental nutrients, we can start the deep ripping process to shatter the hardpan layers and blend the soil for a uniform consistency. The deep ripping process is monitored to ensure the desired result is being produced. The addition of the slip plow provides a major benefit by slipping the soil upward from the bottom and helps to create a substantial resistance at the bottom of the shank. This force causes shattering of the lower hard pan layers and brings the bottom soil to the top as well as blends the soil layers nicely. The goal of soil ripping is to create uniform soil structure where the plants roots will live in optimal conditions. Uniformity of soil drainage and soil texture helps lead to uniformity of leaf and fruit growth, which is critical to produce balanced wines and dependable crop yields.

Once the deep ripping process is complete, the soil is then disced. This serves to break down the larger chunks of earth down into smaller portions as well as further mixing the additives into the soil. Discing a few passes helps in creating a healthy growing environment for the trees or vines. The final step is pulling a 16-foot tri-plane behind a dozer on the flat or a 40-foot pull grader in the hills, smoothing and leveling the soil in preparation for adding planting berms, irrigation, and vines or trees. A properly prepared field assists with growing by managing water run-off and preventing the pooling of water around grapevines and orchard trees.

Other Services

A&L Services, inc. Caterpillar with Ripping Shank

A&L Services, Inc. is more than just a deep ripping contractor. In addition to orchard and vineyard removal and establishment preparation, we can help with all you other farming/dirt work needs. For over 30 years, A&L Services, Inc. has been operating heavy equipment for deep ripping, excavation, and all other types of earthwork projects. A&L Services, Inc. provides heavy equipment support for all your deep ripping, excavation, and other earthwork needs. When you are ready to start planning your vineyard, give us a call for a free consultation so we can help you value engineer your project so it will be completed out on-time and on-budget. We move the earth!

To speak with an expert, call or email Jim Lamont at:

Earthmoving Equipment

No Excavation Project Too Big Or Too Small

We look forward to being a part of your next project.

A&L Services, Inc. is licensed, insured, and bondable. Call A&L Services, Inc. for all your heavy equipment contracting needs.

A&L Services, Inc., 36445 Co Rd 31, Davis, CA 95616

California General Contractor License #823087

E-mail us: or