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

Can I mount a no-till roller where my fertilizer equipment use to be?

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,

I am rebuilding an old JD7000 4-row, 30-inch conservation planter, and I am removing the fertilizer equipment because it is rusted out. I was thinking of mounting a roller on the machine, under the hitch tongue in the area where the fertilizer openers were. I might have to notch the bottom of the tongue to clear the roller then reinforce it. Do you think this would work?

Trent Cloaninger
North Carolina

Dear Trent,

Thanks for the email and the interest in adapting our roller technology to your planter. I’ll start by saying I have no experience with adapting a roller to the frame of a planter. I like having the roller in front of the tractor so it touches the cover crop before the wheels of the tractor do. However, as we expand the size of this equipment we know we will need to mount sections of the roller to a planter frame. This makes your question very relevant. In theory, your idea should work as long as the roller has the ability to “float” freely over the field surface applying its full weight to the cover crop.

I suggest you contact two other folks here in Pennsylvania who are working with planters and roller from a fabrication perspective:

  • Jake Blank, I&J Manufacturing, Gap, Pennsylvania, 717-442-9451 – manufacturer of rollers.
  • Gideon Stoltzfus, Pequea Planter, Gap, Pennsylvania, 717-442-4406 – planter fabricator using John Deere base units.

I really think these two folks could help you out more than anyone else. Good luck, and let me know how the fabrication works out and how the unit works in the field. Pictures would be helpful, if you are willing to share.