Steve Groff turned his Buffalo Rolling Stalk Chopper into a super cover crop roller. Only slightly modified, the chopper makes fast work of heavy cover crops, crimping and pushing them down in a solid mat.
“I added parallel linkage to each roller so they float independently,” says Groff. “The linkage lets them flex over small variations in ground contour. I also put bearing protectors on the rollers to eliminate wrapping. It’s fast and economical. I can run it at 8 to 10 mph.”
Groff didn’t make any changes to the rollers themselves. The machine has parallel 7 by 7-in. toolbars, each with a set of four rollers. Each roller is slightly offset from the next to ensure complete coverage of the 10-ft. width. Rollers can be angled for more aggressive chopping action.
Groff is a nationally known advocate of cover crops and has advised countless farmers on how to best use them. Even with his chopper/roller, timing is important.
“It works best when cereal rye is headed out and 3 to 4 ft. high or hairy vetch and crimson clover are starting to flower,” says Groff. “If too early and plants are young and succulent, it can cut them, and they’ll regrow.”
Until cover crops are fully headed out or in full bloom, Groff doesn’t plan on a 100 percent kill with his chopper/roller. For that reason, he usually hits the rolled crop with a little herbicide as he goes.
“A little herbicide goes a long way when you can’t wait to plant,” he says. “With a little herbicide you can be sure the cover crop is dead and won’t be sucking out moisture.”