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He Uses Home-Built Roller Crimper To Boost Soil Health
Daniel Unruh’s shop-built roller crimper turns 8 to 11-ft. tall mustard plants into a soil-building mulch in his walnut orchard.
“I had a bad problem with nematodes in my walnut orchards,” recalls Unruh. “So I started planting brassica-based cover crops like mustard, and they got rid of the nematodes.”
However, Unruh discovered shredding the tall mustards created another problem. The heavy mass of green material crusted over on top, cutting off oxygen and creating anaerobic conditions underneath.
“Anaerobic bacteria is bad for soil health, plus the shredding took a lot of power,” says Unruh. “I started thinking about using a roller crimper. I could get a 22-ft. model, but I needed a 21-ft. one to fit between the rows.”
He came up with a 3-pt. hitch, 3-roller design that continues to do the job. He has since built a single, 8-ft. roller for a front loader mount and a 3-ft. wide roller for use behind a lawn and garden tractor. He’s currently working on his fourth roller crimper, 10-ft. wide with a 3-pt. mount.
His first roller crimper features a 6 by 6-in., 1/4-in. thick, rectangular tubing frame with a 3-pt. mount. The front wing rollers are 7 ft. long with a 7-ft. gap. They fold up for transit. The third roller is 9 ft. long, overlapping the gap by a foot to either side.
He used 1/2-in. thick well pipe for the drum with 4-in. wide, 3/4-in. steel flutes welded in a chevron-shaped design around the drum. His latest roller uses 3/8-in. well pipe for the drum and 1/2-in. thick by 2 1/2-in. wide steel flutes.
“I wanted the first one heavy enough and aggressive enough that I knew it would work,” says Unruh. “I’ve gradually backed off on the weight and size of the flutes on later models, but they still work well.”
What doesn’t change with his designs is the flutes spanning each other. “I wanted each flute to span at least one other,” he says. “I keep getting the flute angle sharper with each one I build. With the latest one, parts of 3 chevrons are all touching the ground at the same time.”
Unruh enjoys fabricating during the winter when he isn’t farming. Building roller crimpers is a nice fit, and he likes the challenge.
“I customize each one for what the person plans to do and what they have to lift and pull it with,” he says.
If someone was interested in his 21-ft. wide, triple roller crimper, he estimates it would cost in the mid to upper $30,000 range.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Daniel Unruh, 5166 State Hwy. 45, Colusa, Calif. 95932 (ph 530 330-0292; daniel95970@gmail.com).

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2020 - Volume #44, Issue #2