Agricultural Concepts recently launched a product called TrackTill with the help of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative. Colin Hurd, an Iowa State University 2013 agricultural studies graduate, developed the idea.
The Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative was started in 2005 and encourages students to broaden their understanding of entrepreneurship and business development. The company is the second student business launched through the program, ScoutPro was the first, started in 2011.
Like the founders of ScoutPro, Hurd’s business idea grew out of his participation in an agricultural entrepreneurship course offered at Iowa State. The course asks students to pull from past experiences to recognize potential business opportunities.
Hurd immediately thought of his internship experience with a large-scale farming operation in Iowa. While working for the business Hurd observed the effect of large-scale planters on soil compaction.
"I could see the tracks from the planter and tractor, which had created notable in-row compaction,” Hurd said. “The compaction led to yellowing corn plants and stunted growth as the growing season progressed.”
Farmers have seen compaction problems grow as farm equipment has increased in size. Soil compaction causes changes in soil density, porosity and hydraulic properties, which negatively affect yields.
TrackTill was designed to eliminate the compaction caused by large row planters. TrackTill consists of vertical rolling tines, which slice the soil to relieve compaction up to 12 inches deep. The tines pass through the soil subsurface without disturbing the seedbed. The tines attach directly behind the wheels of a planter and are easily raised or lowered. A unique features of TrackTill is its ability to utilize the planter's weight to relieve compaction.
”TrackTill preformed well in yield studies conducted by Iowa State University Extension this past summer,” Hurd said. “The research showed more than an eight bushel yield increase in the center rows, meaning an investment in TrackTill will pay for itself in less than two years for most farming operations. I am really excited about bringing this level of value to growers.”
Taking his concept from the classroom to real life was an easy decision for Hurd.
"As I considered my future I recognized that there was a real need for a product like TrackTill,” said Hurd. “I knew it would not be fair to the industry or to myself if I did not see the business through.”
Kyle Meyer, an Iowa State agricultural systems technology graduate, is a member of Hurd's business team. Meyer oversees product development and production activities for Agricultural Concepts. The company also formed a partnership with the Van Wall Group in Perry, Iowa to sell the product.
For more about the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative, visit http://www.entrepreneurship.ag.iastate.edu.