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Research Project: Sustainable Production, Profit, and Environmental Stewardship through Conservation Systems

Location: Soil Dynamics Research

Title: Roller/crimper designs for cover crops management on different farm scales using conservation practices

item Kornecki, Ted

Submitted to: Soil and Water Conservation Society
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/27/2014
Publication Date: 7/27/2014
Citation: Kornecki, T.S. 2014. Roller/crimper designs for cover crops management on different farm scales using conservation practices. Soil and Water Conservation Society. CDROM.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: In conservation systems, cash crop planting is associated with placing seeds into soil with desiccated cover crop residue on the soil surface. Thus, proper management of cover crops is essential for successful no-till planting of cash crops. In the Southern US, cereal rye (Secale cereale L.) is a widely used cover crop. This tall cover crop can lodge in different directions creating problems with cash crop establishment due to residue interfering with planting units. One method used to properly manage cover crops is rolling technology. The idea is to flatten plants without cutting stems. Rolling of cover crops is typically done 3 weeks before planting the cash crop. This period allows for cover crop desiccation and eliminates nutrient and water competition. Rolling is usually done in the same direction as cash crop planting to minimize residue interference. Rolling technology was introduced to US producers in the past decade, but because of vibration problems at higher speeds, it has not resulted in wide adoption. Research has been conducted with new concept rollers which are effective in cover crop termination, with less vibration. Several rollers/crimpers have been developed for different farm scales. A spiral roller/crimper and a roller for elevated beds (to terminate cover crops on row-tops and furrows) were among the new roller designs. A smooth roller with crimping bar and a two stage roller were designed to operate with large and smaller tractors. Crimping force can be adjusted by changing spring forces to obtain the best crimping action for a particular cover crop. On small farms, field operations may be done one bed at a time, and large rollers cannot be used. A new powered roller/crimper was developed for walk-behind tractors to allow small scale farms to effectively manage cover crops. Generally, new roller designs were very effective in terminating rye (above 90% termination at 2 weeks after rolling), and can be successfully used at various farm sizes.