Why Crimp Your Cover Crops

Effectively crimping cover crops offer many benefits to the soil and future crops

Cover crops continue to gain popularity on farming operations across the United States. Cover crops provide numerous benefits to the soil and help control weeds but maintaining them can be costly to your bottom line. There are many ways to terminate your cover crops including chemically and mechanically. Chemicals can lead to herbicide resistance and other unwanted effects to the environment, in addition to the higher cost they require. Although there are a few ways to mechanically kill cover crops, crimping or rolling has continued to grow in popularity and provides many benefits to the new crop and to the soil.

Benefits of crimping

Crimping your mature cover crops provides benefits that cannot be achieved with other termination methods. When effectively crimped, the crop will be laid down, covering the soil surface, it then acts as a mulch layer holding in moisture and protecting the soil while suppressing weeds and promoting life in the soil. It also reduces erosion in severe weather events such as heavy rain or strong winds.

Another benefit of cover crop crimping is the time and money saved by planting and terminating in one pass. A roller crimper with a three-point hitch allows you to attach the crimper in front of your tractor and pull a planter behind. Crimping and planting at the same time saves time and money by using less fuel and requiring fewer passes. It also reduces compaction created by multiple passes through the field.

"We talked to a lot of farmers about their cover cropping programs and saw a variety of ways of cover crop termination,” Jeff Margi, design engineer for McFarlane Ag. “One thing we concluded was, when properly crimped, farmers saw a reduction in weed pressure and better moisture retention in their soil.”

Types of Cover Crop Roller Crimpers

There are several types of cover crop crimpers available, including a drum roller crimper or an open-reel crimper. We recommend an open reel concept with beveled blades and a bearing guard to reduce wrapping. This concept requires less weight than a drum roller that uses flat bars while fully crimping and laying down that cover crop. Both options will help create that mulch needed suppress weeds and retain moisture.

Learn more about the McFarlane Cover Crop crimper

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