Plowing Problem

Perceived Problem: For U.S. farmers in the eastern states, a cast-iron plow worked fine. But for farmers who tried using it to cultivate crops in the rich Midwest soil, it was a disaster. In fact, attempting to cut through tough prairie ground with a cast-iron plow was problematic to say the least. Trying to use one in the sticky rich soil without it getting clogged was nearly impossible.

Many knowledgeable people focused on this problem. The more they focused on it, the bigger it seemed to become. In time, most of them concluded the was too big of a problem and gave up.

Pink Bat Solution: After moving to the Midwest, a young blacksmith (an outsider) learned of this situation and began focusing on a solution. One day, as he walked to work, a glint of sunlight reflected off an old discarded saw blade. To the sawmill, this old blade represented a worthless, worn out piece of steel… a problem. To young John Deere, it was a beautifully honed piece of smooth steel… a solution.

After pulling it from the junk pile, he took it to his shop and created a plow that worked great in the “problematic” Midwest soil. Today, the John Deere Company supplies equipment to farmers throughout the world… and it all started with a discarded saw blade—a Pink Bat.


One Response to “Plowing Problem”

  1. Annmarie N. Hewitt on November 9th, 2013 7:22 pm

    There are conflicting reports, but it appears that Deere’s first plows used the saw blade steel for the share and smoothly ground wrought iron for the moldboard. Wrought iron could be welded and would reasonably scour in heavy soil. Deere’s first plow, finished in 1837, worked better than any previous plow. In 1838 he built two more plows, one of which was sold to Joseph Brieton, who farmed just south of Grand Detour. That implement was later discovered and purchased by Charles Deere and is on display at the Smithsonian Institution.

Got something to say?