Pull-behind crop roller

Preferring not to use herbicide to kill his cover crops, Stephen Aberle built a roller that terminates rye, triticale, and oats.  

The rolls are mounted with hydraulic cylinders. Extending six cylinders about two thirds of the way allows the rolls to flex to follow the contour of his terraced land. 

At 40 inches high, the tongue will clear the wheels on a drill. A chevron pattern in the rollers helps cut down on bouncing. Aberle can retract the roller to a width narrower than the drill for transport.

“I had to add a pennant on each corner so I can see where the thing is,” he laughs. “I can’t see it behind the drill. It works great. I can also pull it without the drill,” he says.

The rolling action smashes stalks of cover crops in the same way a hay crimper does. If rye is at pollinating stage or later, this will kill it. “When my sorghum sudan cover crop was 6 to 8 feet tall, I rolled it before it went to seed. The stalks are so thick, it didn’t kill it, but it prevented production of viable seed,” says Aberle. 

His design is based on a 15-foot three-point roller the Natural Resources Conservation Service rents out. Rodale Institute built the first one. “You can get some of the blueprints on the web,” he says. 

He used the following parts:

  • Wheels from a used planter
  • Electrohydraulic controller from a used chopper that runs three hydraulic circuits
  • 9 hydraulic cylinders
  • 6- and 7-inch square tubing
  • Factory-built U-bolts and straps 
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