Cover Crop Roller

Exclude from the Tools list. This is "sandboxed".: 
Wiki Editors: Dorn (12 edits)

This tool was developed by Rodale Institute and make opensource on its web site here, and more information can be found on their web site, and at GreenStart's web site

Problem addressed/functional need

This tool is designed to increase organic matter in soil, retain moisture, reduce cultivating passes and herbicide use.
It functions by stressing the annual cover crop at the vulnerable point between when the plant puts energy into producing seed, but before it produces viable seed. Because the covercrop is not cut, it does not resprout, and because it stays rooted, it does not bunch or blow away after it starts to dry.

Functional Description/approach

The following are some tips to make it work better.

Field Preparation
• Level field prior to cover crop seeding
• Uneven fields will result in poor cover crop kill
• Roller-crimper will kill cover crops on rises and miss crops in dips
• Soil test and amend soil to make sure there are no nutrient deficiencies

Cover Crop Selection
• Winter rye (cereal rye) is most common
• ‘Aroostook’ rye will establish later and mature earlier
• Hairy vetch also commonly used
• Winter rye with crimson clover may also work (crimson may winterkill)
• Plan cover crop based on nitrogen needs of cash crop (C:N ratio)
• Mix cover crops that will mature/flower at same time

Cover Crop Establishment
• Use high rates (typically 150% of typical rate)
• Plant earlier in the fall to obtain maximum biomass
• Drilling and broadcasting often give maximum coverage
• Drill in the opposite direction you will plant

Cover Crop Termination
• Fill crimper with water
• Crimp when 75% of crop is in full flower
• Goal is to crimp – not cut – the stem
• It’s ok to crimp twice – it may be needed
• One pass crimping & planting is not necessary
• Other equipment may be used to roll or crimp
• Light disc without offset
• Disengaged flail mower
• Cover crop should be weed free and thick after rolling (at least 3 Inch thick w/no gaps; should not see soil)
No-Till Planting
• Soil tends to be not as wet in spring
• Can get on field earlier; BUT
• Soil temperature may be cooler under mulch
• Works best with transplants and large seeds
• Does not work well with small seeds
• Planter will need extra weight
• Cut through a lot of residue
• Plan to test and use aggressive residue management (row cleaners)
• In-row fertilization will increase success
• Nitrogen tie-up with high carbon cover crop
• Phosphorus tie-up in cold soils

There are several alternative approaches which use the same principles. One in particular was developed by Charles Martin & Family in Loysville, PA. It uses crimpers mounted directly on the no-till planter which have adjustable pressure and float independently from each other to follow the ground. The independent action avoids one of the short comings of the larger crimpers of the Rodale design, which when hitting a high or low spot will not evenly crimp along the whole length.

Bill of materials and Sourcing

this section should include a list of materials, and dimensions and sources for each item when available) Example post with formatting but no sourcing yet FIDO greenhouse alert system

Construction/how to build
(need photo documentation)

Next steps/goals/barriers

Document improved designs that address issues with ground contact in rougher field conditions, facilitate transport and improve planter function through the rolled mulch.
Documentation of construction techniques

This section is to highlight what next steps are needed for documentation or construction to move the project along. This might contain a link to a kickstarter campaign or to a forum discussion of documentation or prototype needs etc.


This tool is currently being manufactured by I&J manufacturing

Questions for this Tool

Posted on 10/21/2012 - 07:51
Posted by Gail


Posted on 03/04/2013 - 21:27
Posted by Reid_in_QC