Contractors Adapt GPS To Track Trencher Operations

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | December 2011, Vol. 66 No. 12

Two Iowa underground construction contractors have teamed to establish a field tiling operation that has adapted global positioning system (GPS) technology to control grade of drainage “tile” they install in state corn and soybean cropland.

Tiling takes its name from clay tiles installed in farm fields to remove excess moisture and was introduced to the United States in the late 1830s. Today slotted HDPE pipe is used, rather than clay tiles.

Coddington Wampler, LLC is a joint venture of David Wampler, owner of Jackson Creek Enterprises, Allerton, IA, and Darrell Coddington, Coddington Inc., Corydon, IA.

Jackson Creek Enterprises has wide experience installing underground water, sewer, gas, power and communications lines using trenching, plowing and horizontal directional drilling (HDD). Jackson Creek was one of the first HDD contractors to employ directional drilling for environmental remediation projects and remains one of the few companies in the U.S. that continues to use directional drilling in this market. Coddington does excavation, dozer and concrete work, building demolition, hauling and tree trimming for public utilities.

“There are many reasons for tiling fields,” said David Wampler, Jackson Creek president. “Tiling controls erosion and the soil’s moisture content, allows workers to get in fields earlier in the spring for planting, and can increase yields of five percent or more.”

Tiling is less costly than buying five percent more land, even if it is available, Wampler added. There also are tax incentives that will pay for tiling over time.

Wampler said most tile installed in the area served by Coddington Wampler is slotted HDPE pipe from five to 12-inches in diameter with some three and four-inch pipe also used.

“In our area,” Wampler continued, “trenching is the most common method of installation with some installed with tile plows. However, plows limit the diameter of pipe that can be used, and we like to maintain cover at 40 inches to prevent the possibility of damage from deep tillage equipment.”

“Most contractors in the Coddington Wampler area maintain grade with lasers,” said Darrell Coddington, Coddington president.

“However,” he explained, “lasers have limitations. The laser beam must maintain line of sight with the digging boom. Accuracy diminishes over distance and if the laser is setup wrong. the installation will be wrong. Weather also can affect the laser’s performance.”