Manure spreader
A manure spreader or muck spreader or honey wagon
"Honey wagon" is a facetious traditional general term for "a wagon or truck for collecting and carrying excrement or manure", such as a cesspool emptier, which serves as a sanitation system including at campgrounds and marinas. The operator connects a hose to the discharge outlet on the...

is an agricultural machine
Agricultural machinery
Agricultural machinery is machinery used in the operation of an agricultural area or farm.-Hand tools:The first person to turn from the hunting and gathering lifestyle to farming probably did so by using his bare hands, and perhaps some sticks or stones. Tools such as knives, scythes, and wooden...

 used to distribute manure
Manure is organic matter used as organic fertilizer in agriculture. Manures contribute to the fertility of the soil by adding organic matter and nutrients, such as nitrogen, that are trapped by bacteria in the soil...

 over a field as a fertilizer
Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. A recent assessment found that about 40 to 60% of crop yields are attributable to commercial fertilizer use...

. A typical (modern) manure spreader consists of a trailer towed behind a tractor
A tractor is a vehicle specifically designed to deliver a high tractive effort at slow speeds, for the purposes of hauling a trailer or machinery used in agriculture or construction...

 with a rotating mechanism driven by the tractor's power take off (PTO). Truck mounted manure spreaders are also common in North America.


Manure spreaders began as ground-driven units which could be pulled by a horse or team of horses. Many of these ground-driven spreaders are still produced today, mostly in the form of small units that can be pulled behind a larger garden tractor or an all terrain vehicle (ATV). In recent years Hydraulic and PTO driven units have been developed to offer variable application rates. Several models are also designed with removable rotating mechanisms, attachable side extensions, and tailgates for hauling chopped forages, cereal grains, and other crops.


The first successful automated manure spreader was designed by Joseph Kemp in 1875. At the time of his invention he was living in Waterloo, Canada but thereafter he moved to Newark Valley, NY
Newark Valley (town), New York
Newark Valley is a town in Tioga County, New York, USA. The population was 4,097 at the 2000 census. The town is named after the city of Newark, New Jersey....

 and formed the J.S. Kemp Manufacturing Co. to manufacture and market his current and subsequent designs. In 1903 he expanded the company to Waterloo, Iowa
Waterloo, Iowa
Waterloo is a city in and the county seat of Black Hawk County, Iowa, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census the population decreased by 0.5% to 68,406. Waterloo is part of the Waterloo – Cedar Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area, and is the more populous of the two...

 before selling the design to International Harvester
International Harvester
International Harvester Company was a United States agricultural machinery, construction equipment, vehicle, commercial truck, and household and commercial products manufacturer. In 1902, J.P...

 in 1906.
Joseph Oppenheim
Joseph Oppenheim
Joseph Oppenheim was an educator who invented the modern widespread manure spreader that made farming less labor intensive and far more efficient in the early 20th century and only he is honored for that invention in the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame in Columbus, Ohio...

 of Maria Stein, Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

 was the inventor of the first modern 'widespreading' manure spreader and is honored as such in the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame.. Originally manure was thrown from a wagon. . Later, “manure unloaders” used a drag chain at the bottom of the wagon to pull the load of manure to the rear where it was shredded by a pair of beaters. . Because the unloaders deposited manure directly behind the wagon but with very little spreading to the sides, farmers still had to take the time-consuming step of heading into the fields with peg-tooth drags or similar implements to spread the manure in order to prevent burning the soil. .

Oppenheim, a schoolmaster in the small town, concerned that his older male students often missed school loading and spreading manure, . patented a wagon that, behind the drag chain and two beaters, incorporated a steel axle with several wooden paddles attached to the shaft at an angle to throw the manure outward in a broad pattern eliminating the necessity for manual spreading. On October 18, 1899, Oppenheim began to produce his new manure spreader, incorporating the “widespread” paddle device. Neighbors soon referred to it as “Oppenheim’s new idea” and Oppenheim adopted this name for his business.

Although Oppenheim died in November, 1901, the demand for the New Idea Spreader Company’s labor-saving “widespread” machines quickly grew and fifteen years later, under the direction of his oldest son, B.C. Oppenheim, and Henry Synck
Henry Synck
Henry Synck, Jr. was an American industrialist who participated in the development of mechanized farming.In the farming communities of Ohio, fertilization of fields was possible only by the distribution of animal excrement, usually mixed with bedding straw to create a semi-solid mixture of manure...

, one of Oppenheim’s first employees, the company, had branches in eight states and an assembly plant in Guelph, Ontario. It had total sales in 1916 of $1,250,000. . Eight years later, in 1924, the factory was turning out 125 manure spreaders in an eight hour day.and “became the brand that set the standards for spreader performance, durability and reliability decade after decade.”

During the 1920s, Henry Synck,who became president of the company in 1936 when Joseph’s son, B.C. Oppenheim, died, patented several improvements to the spreader. In 1945 the Oppenheim family sold its controlling interest in the closely held New Idea Company to AVCO Manufacturing. AVCO later sold the company to White Farm Equipment Company which in 1993 sold it to AGCO (Allis-Gleaner Corporation), the current owner.

It is clear, however, that there were other competitors in this field, each of whom spread the manure by a slightly different technique. One of these is the Great Western Farm Equipment Line, produced in Chicago, IL.

List of References

  • U.S. Patent Office, Patent No. 648,519, Manure Distributor and Spreader for Joseph Oppenheim, Maria Stein, Ohio, Filed February 17, 1900.

  • Patents for Henry Synck issured 1920-1937: See: (accessed February 8, 2011)

  • ”The New Idea Spreader Company.” Nevin O.Winter, Litt. D., History of Northwest Ohio,” vol. 3, p. 1672, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago & New York, 1917

  • “Henry Synck,” Nevin O. Winter, Litt.D., History of Northwest Ohio, vol. 2 p. 874, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago & New York, 1917.

  • Tharran E. Gaines, “100 Years of New Ideas,” FieldHAND, Spring 1999, p.8.

  • Brian Wayne Wells, “The New Idea Spreader Company of Coldwater, Ohio (Part 1 of 2 Parts),” Belt/Pulley Magazine, Vol.11, No. 5, September/October 1998, (accessed Nov. 8, 2010)

  • Brian Wayne Wells, “The New Idea Spreader Company (Part 2 of 2 Parts)” Belt/Pulley Magazine, Vol.11, No.6, November/December 1998, (accessed Nov. 8, 2010),

  • “Manure Spreader Product Review,” American Cattlemen, June 2010, Spencer,, Iowa (reviewing six spreaders), (accessed February 8, 2011)

  • Scope Broadened by Aviation Corp.,”New York Times, October 30, 1945

  • Cindy Birt, “New Idea: Its Start and the First 75 Years,” The Celina, Ohio Daily Standard, May 16, 1974, p. 18.

  • “New Idea Founder Inducted in Agricultural Hall of Fame,” Mercer County Chronicle, September 4, 1969, page 1.

  • “Memories of New Idea,” Mercer County Chronicle, August 4, 1988, Sophia Synck Bomholt.

  • “New Idea Celebrates 100th Anniversary,” Mercer County Chronicle, September 2–8, 1999, p.9

  • AVCO Dealer News Vol. 15, No.10, October 1969, p. 5.

  • Ohio Agricultural Council, 4th Annual Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame, August 27, 1969. Program page 7

  • “100th Anniversary, A Century of Excellence, New Idea 1899-1999” Pamphlet, AGCO Corporation, pp. 1,3 and 4;

  • ^ Smith Mfg. Co. "Great Western" farm equipment line

External links

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