In regard to the use of rye as a cover crop into which soybeans
are no-tilled the following spring: Because in southeastern
South Dakota we are often dry, it is imperative that the rye
mulch plant is killed so as not to compete with the soybeans.
Does the roller accomplish this? If so, can I get plans to
build my own roller?
Thanks for the email and the interest in our cover crop work
and organic no-till. The question you ask is very important
and one that several others are concerned about.
Moisture is not nearly as critical here in the East as it
is in spring for you folks. For that reason, we will be sending
a roller to Steve Zwinger up in North Dakota at North Dakota
State University. We currently don't have enough data for
me to say what will fit into your system. I can tell you that
the roller will kill rye but not until it is headed out, and
that may be too late for you in terms of moisture.
Think of the roller as a tool to speed up the process of
what a plant does naturally. For example, winter annuals like
rye would normally die after it sets seed. We are simply tricking
the plant into physiologically dying early by crimping the
stem once it is past it's flowering stage. If you roll the
rye to early, its need to flower will be too great and it
will stand back up and continue to survive, although at a
weaker stand (more like a gooseneck stand). If you roll it
real early when it is only in the vegetative stage (grass),
it will do nothing but leave marks in the soil. We need to
get more data on the timing of rolling in moisture-sensitive
areas as well as searching for other cover crops that might
fit the system there better than rye.
Hope this helps.
Have some questions to Ask Jeff? E-mail
him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.