There are several considerations when deciding to try cover crops to maximum potential, and there are likely equally plentiful considerations to termination when the time comes.
While there are a few mainstream ways to terminate a cover crop, Farming Smarter at Lethbridge, Alta., is looking at using a roller crimper to do the job.
The reasoning for the crimper, says Gurbir Dhillon, research scientist at Farming Smarter, is to be able to maximize biomass retention, while gaining other benefits such as weed suppression and improved soil health.
The crimper itself is essentially a steel drum roller, with blunt blades. When an operator drives over the crop, it flattens the crop and crimps the stems.
“It doesn’t cut or chop them. It crimps them at about six-to-eight inch intervals. And that damages that vascular system of the plants,” he explains, adding that the plants tend to die off when doing it at a proper stage. The residue results in a mulch-like mat over the surface, says Dhillon, and that mat helps with weed suppression, conserving moisture, and regulating soil temperature.
Check out the full conversation, filmed at Farming Smarter’s Field Day earlier this month: