ASK Jeff: The Rodale Institute’s farm manager, Jeff Moyer, answers your hardcore farming questions

Can I use the no-till roller on Marshall rye or sorghum Sudangrass?

Posted August 10, 2006

What Jeff brings to the table

Jeff Moyer, who’s been the farm manager here at the 333-acre Rodale Institute research farm for more than a quarter of a century, receives lots of mail from farmers just like you asking for advice. Jeff’s hands-in-the-dirt experience over the past 26 years has run the gamut from refining the farm's cover cropping and crop rotation systems (including managing 270 acres in a rotation of corn, small grains, hay, and edible soy beans for a Japanese market) to overseeing The Rodale Institue Farming Systems Trial®, the world’s longest running side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional agriculture. We thought it would be fun and informative to share some of these farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and Jeff’s practical wisdom, with our readers … and we’ll be doing it on a regular basis.

Got a question of your own? Click here to send it to Jeff.

Dear Jeff,

Can you plant pastures after using your no-till roller on Marshall rye grass or sorghum Sudangrass?

Kenn Davis

Dear Kenn,

More than likely, where you expect to plant your pasture you already have some existing vegetation. The roller we have designed works to kill winter annual cover crops by crimping their stems once they have flowered to create a dense mulch layer that prevents weeds from germinating. The system is not designed to kill annual or perennial weeds or ground covers. Therefore, if you have an existing pasture or weedy area, it will do nothing to help get a pasture established. If your land is organic or chemical free, you will need to perform some sort of tillage activity to establish a new pasture. If you plan to use a chemical treatment, check with your county extension agent for the best strategy to remove what is existing, or knock it back to plant your pasture mix.

I hope this helps to explain the limitations of our roller.