The two stage system designed to fill and pack irrigation pivot tracks in a single pass. The TracPacker allows you to do the job once and do it right. No other machine provides the filling and packing punch of two passes with the full weight of the tractor on the tires.
Hello, my name is Dan Gillespie and I developed the TracPacker. I have farmed for 33 years in Northeast Nebraska, primarily in irrigated and dryland cash grain corn/soybean operation with cash wheat grain crop for the first time in 2007. We first tried no-till corn into soybeans in 1987, and evolved to Continuous No-Till System on all acres in 1991. We are currently incorporating cover crops into the Continuous No-Till System to increase soil quality. Increasing erosion control, improving rainfall infiltration, and building soil organic matter are important goals for our operation.
Our cropland is predominantly Nora Crofton silty clay loam soils on 4 to 16% slopes. In our soils, as is the case in most soils, pivot tracks can be a problem as the variable topography leads to many different depths of tracks depending on the location. Pivot tracks in the sloughs are deep and pivot tracks running contour to a hillside are almost non existent.
I was not at all satisfied with the pull behind trackfillers available on the market in the early 90's. I did not like having to guess where to drive and it was frustrating to have no real effective control over the amount of soil moved into the track. Some deep tracks were to deep for the trackfillers and that led to poorly filled tracks. Shallower pivot tracks filled with too much soil created a ridge that was just as rough to bounce over as an unfilled pivot track.
I knew that moving soil in sequential 'lifts' and packing with rubber tired compaction was the best way to get newly moved soil to stay in place. With this information in mind, my goal then became to build a machine that filled and packed pivot tracks level with the field surface. I wanted a machine that would move the proper amount of soil automatically without having to constantly adjust the hydraulic control levers.
These special equipment requirements led to the concept of a gauge wheel running in the pivot track to regulate the proper amount of soil moved into the track with a disk gang that moved and feathered the soil into the track on the go. Since the tractor was going to be in the field moving the soil into the track, it made sense to have the weight of the tractor pack the soil into the pivot tracks as well. The front tire of my two wheel drive JD 4050 fit right into the pivot track and packed that soil movement into the bottom of the track, making room for the next soil movement being performed by a disk gang mounted between the front and rear tires.
I dreamed of this machine for three years as I was harvesting 200 bushel irrigated corn with an old JD 6600 going about two miles an hour. EVERY TIME I bounced through a deep pivot track I just knew that little back axle was going to snap off this time. In the fall of 1994 after harvest I built my first TracPacker based on the design I had thought and dreamed of for three years. My dad Leo Gillespie and I dropped every bolt and nut out of an old IHC 37 disk and the project was on. The spring of 1995 was our first field test drive and the machine did everything I had dreamed and imagined it would. For the next couple of years I used the TracPacker on my three pivots and let my neighbors use the TracPacker and tractor for free just to field test it. After a few years the neighbors were happy to trade labor for the system and a business was born. I have a significant amount of corn and soybeans hauled in exchange for TracPacker rental and work.
The TracPacker was officially 'discovered' in the spring of 2001 when I showed a video clip of the prototype machine at a Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District irrigation workshop. Stuart Hoff of the University of Nebraska Lincoln ARDC was in attendance and subsequently asked me to build one for him so I built four.
The business has taken off on it's own since then. We applied for and received a patent in 1998 and here we are now meeting farmers from all over the USA as they come to pick up their TracPackers. We now have TracPackers in the field from Oklahoma to North Dakota and from Ohio to Washington working in crops from mint, beets and potatoes to beans, hay, and corn. We have shipped TracPackers overseas from the Ukraine to Australia. The 50% decrease in the depth of pivot tracks that the patented TracPacker system affords is a major factor in the reduction of pivot maintenance and repair. Center pivots simply move with less stress in tracks that are half as deep.