I'm still conventional dairying but have always no-tilled
all my corn (and alfalfa). This year we have the lushest barley/crimson
clover mix as cover that I ever saw. Do you think I could
get away with rolling down this cover on land that has had
chemical burn-downs in the past? The barley has now headed
out, a situation I never liked, but I hope that since the
N the clover is fixing will be underground that the high carbon
load sitting on top of the ground from the too-mature barley
won't lock up the N like it does chemical N sources. If I'm
unable to find a roller, would a jury-rigged drag of some
sort do? Thanks for what you guys do. I haven't jumped into
organic yet, but I see a lot of opportunity here pushing in
that direction (even while we're still "conventional").
Thanks for the email and the kind words regarding our work.
In answer to your question: Once the crimson clover has flowered
and the barley has headed out as it seems like it has, you
could go ahead and roll it down. You might be able to use
some other method, such as a drag to lay it flat, however
our roller design also crimps the stems of the cover crop
to shut down the vascular system of the plant to get a better
kill. Of course you have the option of coming back with an
herbicide if the cover crop tries to grow back since you are
Either way, you are to be applauded for inserting cover
crops into your cropping system. You may not be organic at
the moment, but it seems you're on the right path thinking
about reducing your herbicide, covering the soil, and building
organic matter levels.
Keep up the good work, and please me know what you decide
to do and how it works out.