The Wingfield family
is proud to have practiced the principles of conservation tillage for the past
70+ years. Willard Beckenholt began his family’s quest in conservation tillage
as one of the first in Illinois to purchase a tractor with rubber tires in the
1930s, and the purchase of a Seaman Rotary Tiller in 1942, which eliminated the
age-old practice of moldboard plowing. Willard’s son-in-law Carl was so
impressed with the Seaman Tiller that he became a distributor in 1946, and
Wingfield Distributors became a leader in conservation tillage. Carl began
selling the Graham-Hoeme Chisel Plow in 1953 to complement the Seaman Tiller.
Starting in 2012, the Wingfield Distributors name was changed to Wingfield
Manufacturing, LLC to better reflect our current focus on manufacturing.
Sadly, Carl’s early death in the 1960s prompted his son to drop
out of the mechanical engineering program at the University of Illinois to take
over the family business and family farm. Dean had never planted an acre of
corn in his life, and was interested to learn his father’s methods. Carl was a
staunch believer in controlling erosion, and was heavily influenced by Pulitzer
Prize winning author, Louis Bromfield of Malabar Farm at Mansfield, Ohio.
Bromfield advocated a system of using the Seaman Tiller to cut and mix surface
residue in the top six inches of field soil, and using the Graham Chisel Plow
to loosen compacted soil to a depth of fourteen inches. This practice gave
Bromfield the confidence to say he would give anyone $100 if they found
standing water in his fields one half hour after a rain.
Dean spent time talking to local farmers who shared his father’s
practices, learned to farm, and returned to college. He finished his education
at the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s in agriculture, with a major in
agronomy soils, and a passion to continue his family’s quest to encourage
conservation tillage. Dean’s quest in college was to find a better way to level
the soil behind the chisel plow without losing the residue cover or moisture.
The only method used at that time was a rod weeder, but it was expensive and
cumbersome. The rod weeder was a rotating square rod, which was hydraulic
driven and mounted on the shanks of the chisel plow. This implement laid
unwanted plants and roots on topsoil to die in the sun.
Dean decided to make the rod weeder easier and less expensive,
and used a flexible rod and mount brackets on the back of shanks. This could be
adjusted up and down to allow the soil itself to turn the rod. Thus, the tiller
rod was born. Over a million feet of tiller rod was sold in the midwest.
However with the advent of more conservation tillage, residue became an issue.
There was build-up between the shanks of tillage tools, which left piles of
residue across the field. A friend from Indiana advised Dean of a harrow which
he had used to clear residue, a flexible tine imported from England. The harrow
created a classic dry mulch on the surface, and Dean and other Illinois farmers
began hooking up the harrow behind discs and other finishing tools. The harrow
worked coarse soil and residue to the surface, while distributing finer soil to
the seed zone. The dry mulch surface stopped moisture loss in Dean’s fields.
As tillage tools increased in size, the original harrow drawbars
were no longer feasible. Dean found a company which would attach his flexible
tine harrows to a cart. Unfortunately, this cart was hard to fold, and a good
friend, B.G. Schleuter, offered to build Dean a cart that worked properly. B.G.
was a man of his word, and the flexible tine harrow cart was born. Wingfield
Distributors became the largest distributor of harrows until the late 1980s,
when its main supplier, Fuerst decided to sell.
After much thought, Dean decided to design and manufacture his
own harrow. When designing the harrow tine, he tried many different diameters
and degrees of hardness of steel before selecting the best tine material. He
found that anything over 1/2" diameter collected too much trash, and mild
steel, well, was mild steel, which was subject to premature wear and/or
spreading apart. Dean decided to use the highest carbon steel that can be bent
cold without breakage and is drawn (from 1/2" to .452) for uniform
diameters for more precise bends. The result was a high-quality harrow that provides
excellent residue clearance, and even wear throughout the entire section. And
so the Wingfield Harrow was born.
Carl’s grandson, and Dean’s son, Christopher is set to take
Wingfield Manufacturing into the future, making this a 3
generation family-owned and operated business.
We are proud of the products we make and sell. The evolution of Wingfield
Manufacturing in conservation tillage stands for the quality and durability
that our customers rave about. Wingfield Manufacturing has come a long way from
Willard’s initial purchases of the Seaman Rotary Tiller, but our passion for
conservation tillage has never wavered. This is our 22th year in building
Wingfield Harrows, and our tines and mountings have more flexibility,
durability, and life than our competitors. We offer drawbar drag harrows from
4’ to 24’, 3 point harrows from 5’ to 36’, mounted harrows from 4’ to 60+’, and
two models of harrow carts from 16’ to 50’. Hydraulic fold is available on all
3 point harrows and harrow carts. Replacement sections will fit most makes of
competitive harrow carts. We have also been installing our Wingfield Harrows on
other tools such as pasture aerators, 3 point discs, seeders, etc.
Thanks for visiting our
website, and keep us in mind for your harrowing needs. Happy Harrowing!