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Using a roller-crimper to terminate cover crops is a topic that has garnered A LOT of attention in recent years. At our 2016 annual conference, three farmers shared their experiences with using modified equipment to roll cover crops. This year, Levi Lyle (of Keota) and Billy Sammons (of Churdan) explained how they’ve used actual roller-crimpers (after the I&J design) in Iowa!
Both Levi and Billy shared how they’ve used a roller-crimper to terminate a cereal rye cover crop ahead of a soybean crop. This method, when done correctly, can reduce tillage and stymie weeds (as a result of a thick mat of cereal rye straw and biomass laying on the soil surface). The optimal time to roll-crimp a cereal rye cover crop is at the anthesis stage (or later). Anthesis is when anthers are visibly shedding pollen from the cereal rye seedheads. As we learned from the two presenters, attempting to roll-crimp the cover crop any earlier than this stage and the cereal rye can stand back up! Another factor to consider is cover crop biomass at the time of roll-crimping: The more the better. It’s suggested to seed the cover crop as early as possible the previous year at a rate of 2-4 bu/ac of cereal rye seed.
You can view Levi and Billy’s presentation slides and photos here:
Levi shared this handout with attendees: Profiles in Soil Health.
Billy showed two videos during his presentation:
Highboy Seeding of Cereal Rye in September 2015
Crimping Cereal Rye Following Soybean Planting in May 2016
Other recent blog posts on rolling cover crops:
- Rolling Cover Crops (March 2016).
- Field day in June 2016 hosted by Billy Sammons, Joanna Hunter, George Naylor and Patti Edwardson.
*** NOTE: Presentations from other sessions at the 2017 annual conference are now up on our website! Check them out here: http://practicalfarmers.org/farmer-knowledge/annual-conference-multimedia/ ***