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 3rd 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 28th 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 17’ 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!
Wingfield Manufacturing, LLC
5811 N. High Cross Road
Urbana, IL 61802