John Deere has been producing equipment for more than 175 years, and during this time, has been responsible for several agricultural equipment innovations that have left their mark across the farming industry. The development of its tractor plow was one of the company’s biggest undertakings and eventual successes.

john deere tractor plow

However, while you may know when the John Deere tractor plow was introduced, you may be unfamiliar with the steps that led to its release. Let’s take a closer look.


While attending the Illinois State Fair, John Deere was up-close-and-personal with a 30-hp Fawkes steam plow, and shortly after, started working on one himself.


At the Winnipeg Agricultural Motor Competition, which is known as one of the earliest shows to feature tractors, John Deere and Cockhsutt were considered the tractor plows of choice. At the competition, John Deere featured a fourteen-bottom gang plow. A seven-bottom version of the plow was hitched to a Big Four “30” tractor from the Gas Traction Company. The combination of these two pieces of equipment resulted in John Deere and the Gas Traction Company winning the gold medal for the 30+ hp class.


Due to the success of the partnership between Deere and the Gas Traction Company, Deere’s Atlanta and St. Louis locations were now offering the Big Four in their sales materials. Around this time, Deere began considering alliances with manufacturers of tractors as they realized the potential impact of mechanized farming. To get involved in the conversation, John Deere considered acquisitions, sourcing, and internal manufacturing.

Deere thought to acquire the Gas Traction Company, but they had already been purchased. Then, in April and May of 1912, Deere looked at Aultman-Taylor and George Morris as options but ultimately decided against them. Diamond Iron Works was considered shortly after, and they too were passed up.


John Deere shifted its focus to research and development of its own. Charles H. Melvin (designer) came up with a model that loosely resembled the Hackney Motor Plow. However, field trials were sub-par and the design was abandoned.


Deere continued to evaluate a variety of designs and options, and in 1918, they entered the tractor business. While the All-Wheel Drive Tractor was being created, Deere purchased the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company, and they produced 5,634 Waterloo Boy Tractors in their first year.

Final Thoughts

As we approach the 100-year anniversary of John Deere tractor production, it’s important to remember the key events that led to development. If you have any questions about new or used John Deere tractors, contact your local John Deere dealer.

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