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They Like Their "Cover Crop Roller"
Organic dairy producers Miller and Sons of Columbus, Wis., are well pleased with their new no-till roller developed by the Rodale Institute and manufactured by I and J Mfg. Co., Gap, Penn.
  The 15-ft. wide "Cover Crop Roller" mounts on a front 3-pt. hitch. The roller flattens the cover crop without cutting or uprooting it. Within three weeks or so, the rolled cover crop dries out, forming a mat that retains moisture and prevents weed growth.
The roller can be filled with water to provide extra weight, but the Millers have found it unnecessary to do that.
  The Millers operate an organic dairy farm with some 320 cows and started using the Rodale no-till roller in 2006. They've been working with the University of Wisconsin on how to best use the roller. They farm about 1,600 acres, all of it in a crop rotation that includes corn followed by a cover crop of rye, which is no-tilled with the cover crop roller as soybeans are planted, then back to corn, followed by small grains (oats or spelt), then alfalfa. The Millers always have 450 acres of alfalfa.
  When the 4-ft. tall cover crop of rye is headed out, they roll it down and plant beans. This results in about 4 in. of mulch. There's almost no foxtail, and the field is 90 percent perfectly clean.
  According to company literature, the goal of the Cover Crop Roller is not to cut the stems but to crimp them and lay them flat. The key is to wait until the cover crop reaches full flowering. If you do it before, the plant is still in a vegetative growth stage and will bounce back green and vigorous, but if you get it after this point it will dry and die.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, R and G Miller and Sons, 1762 County V, Columbus, Wis. 53925 (ph 608 335-4336) or I & J Mfg., 5302 Amish Road, Gap, Penn. 17527 (ph 717 442-9451).

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2009 - Volume #33, Issue #1