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

Is there a minimum weight for your roller/crimper to work?

Posted December 14, 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,

Is there some minimum weight you have found is needed to make the crimping action on your roller/crimper effective? Maybe a weight/foot?

Mark Heidmann

Dear Mark,

Thanks for the email and the question on our no-till roller design. The simple answer to you question is “no.” We really haven't had access to the engineering expertise we need to examine these criteria. My suspicion is that soil moisture and cover crop density will all have an effect on determining exactly what that weight might be. What I can say is that our roller is designed to be filled with water, bringing a 10-foot section to a total weight of 2000 pounds. We also have added more weight to the frame by adding suitcase weight and found no advantage. We have subtracted water from the roller and found that there are disadvantages to that (less kill).

We also know that by twisting the blades around the circumference of the cylinder we increase the weight-per-running-inch of blade by several factors since only a small portion of the blade is actually in contact with the soil at any given point in time. Hope all this helps, even though it isn't a direct answer to your question.