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

Do you have measurement details for the roller?

Posted February 16, 2007

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 have downloaded the drawings for the crop roller and talked to a metal fabricator I've worked with before who is very willing to build one for me. But the drawings didn't offer any measurement details. I was wondering if you could please tell me what the diameter of the roller should be and what the cleat spacing is. Also, is the cleat angle important or can they be mounted parallel with the roller? Thanks for any help you can give me.

Tom Miller


Dear Tom,

Thanks for downloading the plans for the roller. I’ll try and give you the information you need; however, don’t hesitate to email back if my answers aren’t clear. It is sometimes difficult to explain in words how the design works. We started or project with a piece of 16-inch diameter well casing with a 3/8 wall thickness. Our roller is 10-feet, 6-inches long. We then placed our 10 cleats or blades uniformly around the circumference of the cylinder. The outside tips of our blades end up being approximately 7-1/4 inches apart. The blades are not mounted at 90 degrees to the cylinder to prevent them from tearing the cover crop as they leave the surface. They are actually sitting about 10 degrees off perpendicular, so 80 degrees or 100 degrees, depending on which angle you are measuring (inside or outside).

I hope this additional information helps.