History of The Motor Cultivator


| January/February 1974



The following article was sent to us by Leroy Quandt, Ryder, North Dakota 58779. He states that it was taken from the October 1919 issue of Tractor and Gas Engine Review, a magazine published by the Clarke Publishing Co., Madison, Wisconsin. The editors at this time were B. B. Clarke and V. V. Detwiler.

Following the early exploitation and introduction of the farm tractor, which seems to have gotten its first impetus from the wheat growing sections of the Northwest, and after the tractor had been thoroughly proven as an economical, profitable, and successful farm implement in the vast small grain growing countries of the Northwest and Southwest, the farmers of the central states and the corn belt commenced to be attracted by the possibilities of utilizing the tractor in connection with their farm operations, and a good many had already been sold.

In the corn belt, however, the great question came up -- how can we use a tractor successfully in the corn belt when the farmer is compelled to keep his horses for the cultivation of corn? The letters received expressing this view from 1912 to 1914 were so numerous as to suggest to the writer and the engineering corps of the Avery Company the idea of supplying a motor cultivator.

In 1913 work was started along this line and, the Avery Company having been for many years large producers of horsedrawn cultivators, their first attempt to motorize one of these machines naturally ran to the idea of simply taking a horsedrawn cultivator and putting a motor on it to drive it. After some months of planning making drawings and experimental machines, the conclusion was finally reached that in order to make the motor cultivator an acceptable and profitable machine to the farmer, it ought to be able to handle two rows of corn at one time, and should sell at a very moderate price because of its limited occupation on the farm.

Our first machine was put into the field in 1914 and was so reasonably successful that a crop of corn was cultivated with it. The experience, however, in the operating of that machine developed some newer ideas which were incorporated in a machine that was put out and raised a crop in 1915. Further developments took place during the following fall and winter, and in 1916 what we regarded as the first machine in a really acceptable form was produced and put on Yalehurst Farm, owned by the writer, and cultivated sixty acres of corn that season, and immediately after the corn was laid by, this same machine was shipped to Hutchinson, Kansas, and exhibited at the tractor demonstration held there that year, and also at the following demonstrations of that year's circuit, which included St. Louis, Missouri; Fremont, Nebraska; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Bloomington, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana, and Madison, Wisconsin. This machine is still in existence and is capable of going out and doing work. However, some modifications were made during that winter and the next year a factory order for five hundred of these machines was issued and they were built and put out on the market. The experience with this machine in the field brought forth additional information concerning the requirements. This was especially true in the western sections of the Southwest where corn is planted with a lister in furrows. Cultivating rigs were developed and attachments made for meeting these requirements and in 1916 a factory order for two thousand of these motor cultivators was issued and the cultivators were made, put out, and then it comenced to develop that these motor cultivators were of very great value to the farmers for doing many other kinds of work besides actual cultivation of corn and other row crops, for instance, the pulling of harvesters, loaded and empty wagons, for hauling in crops from the field. They were also being used quite extensively in hay making operations on the farm, pulling the mower, the hay rake and tedder, hay loader and, in fact, their utility on the farm broadened to such an extent that it became evident greater power or, in short, a more powerful motor was needed, hence the design of a machine embodying a six cylinder motor. These machines made their appearance for the 1919 trade, have been sold quite extensively throughout the United States and in some foreign countries.

The Avery Company regard this machine as long since having passed the stage of experimentation. It has come to be an accepted, proven farm implement that any farmer who has work for such a machine can afford to buy it to do his work, because it will do it cheaper, more economically, and more satisfactory than horses. It gives the absolute answer to the corn belt farmer in reference to having to keep his horses for cultivating the corn and other row crops.