Entrepreneurship scholarship winner pursues solution to soil compaction challenge

I found myself bursting with pride recently when a young man named Colin Hurd was featured  in the Iowa State Daily for his work in developing a solution to a challenge that farmers face constantly: How to minimize soil compaction.

Colin, a senior in agricultural studies at Iowa State University, is winner of the 2012 Murray Wise Associates Agriculture Entrepreneurship Scholarship, awarded each year to a student who has a business concept with the potential to succeed in the marketplace.

His concept is for a product called TrackTill, which can be used as an attachment to a planter to reduce the degree to which the soil is compacted. He said recently that he hopes the scholarship enables him to eventually turn the concept into a commercial success: “Receiving the Entrepreneurship Scholarship is not only an honor, but a step toward realizing a dream. Many great ideas die because there’s no support to help them get off the ground. The scholarship provides that support.”

Colin isn’t free to reveal much detail about his concept, because it hasn’t been patented yet. But it does what every great idea does — identify a need and come up with a solution. As farm machines get bigger and heavier, they compact the soil to a greater degree, preventing water from getting in and making it harder for seeds to sprout. As a farm owner, I can say with confidence that demand would be significant. If this scholarship helps him realize that dream, the benefit to the entire industry will be incalculable.

I’m also proud of the fine work being done by Iowa State in training future leaders in agriculture. It was through the school’s Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative Program that Colin was able to work with an agricultural engineer who is a previous graduate of the program.

Congratulations, Colin, and best wishes for achieving your dreams!