If you use a cover crop roller, when should you burn down?

Published Apr 7 



If you are using a cover crop roller prior to planting, should you burn down before or after rolling the cover crops?

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Pat Rogers Blenheim, SC
Apr 7
 

Categories: Tools, Cover Crops, NRCS

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3 Answers

By Risa DeMasi
Published Apr 7 

This is a great question Pat. If the cover crop roller (crimper) has done its job effectively you shouldn't need to burn the cover crop down chemically also. If I misunderstood the question, let me know. 

Cover crop biomass can vary between species and even varieties within species. Some have rigid stems and others have softer, more pliable stems. Some species produce copious amounts of biomass and some not so much - weather can play a roll too. 

If you're going to crimp, I'd wait to see if the plants respond before adding the expense and going the next step.  It's always a good idea to run trials before jumping into a new practice on a wide scale.

...Then there's the concept of Planting Green - doing it all in one pass (crimping and planting directly into the green cover crop biomass. Here's the story from a farmer in IL: https://goseed.com/cover-crop-corner-advice-from-a-cash-crop-farmer-on-planting-green/

So many options!!! 

Hope this helps,

Risa

Categories: Tools, Cover Crops, NRCS

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Pat Rogers Blenheim, SC
Apr 8
Thanks for the quick reply. I think we'll try crimping prior to burndown just to see if it's even needed. I assume we ought to see a pretty fast response in terms of killing the covers when a crimper is involved?

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By Mark Smith
Published Apr 7 
Hi Pat;

One of the purposes of cover crop rolling is the intended reduction or elimination of burn down herbicides. Most studies I have read showed great promise with rolling and crimping. Now for the hard truth: burn down herbicides have actually shown faster increases in soil organic matter than even the best of organic methods, but the assumption is that these herbicides have the negative consequence of destroying much of the beneficial bacteria and other necessary micro-organisms creating an overall net-negative effect. The fact of the matter is that there aren’t enough studies to validate this because we have looked at soil incorrectly (in my humble opinion) for centuries, generally from a geological perspective. There is so much we don’t know about soil, and so many assumptions we have made regarding soil that the Soil Science Society has redefined the term ‘soil science’. This corrected definition was made in large part to include the biological aspect of soil as we now it. We often fail to realize that science is ever evolving, instead working from an assumption that we have reached the ‘pinnacle’ of a specific area of study. In fact, the soil lab I interned at was conducting a study on this very aspect. My internship was completed before the study was (and I was under a confidentiality agreement) but highly recommend utilizing the information from the attached link. Best of luck my friend!

https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs142p2_018551.pdf.

If you use a cover crop roller, when should you burn down?

Hi Pat;

One of the purposes of cover crop rolling is the intended reduction or elimination of burn down herbicides. Most studies I have read showed great promise with rolling and crimping. Now for the hard truth: burn down herbicides have actually shown faster increases in soil organic matter than even the best of organic methods, but the assumption is that these herbicides have the negative consequence of destroying much of the beneficial bacteria and other necessary micro-organisms creating an overall net-negative effect. The fact of the matter is that there aren’t enough studies to validate this because we have looked at soil incorrectly (in my humble opinion) for centuries, generally from a geological perspective. There is so much we don’t know about soil, and so many assumptions we have made regarding soil that the Soil Science Society has redefined the term ‘soil science’. This corrected definition was made in large part to include the biological aspect of soil as we now it. We often fail to realize that science is ever evolving, instead working from an assumption that we have reached the ‘pinnacle’ of a specific area of study. In fact, the soil lab I interned at was conducting a study on this very aspect. My internship was completed before the study was (and I was under a confidentiality agreement) but highly recommend utilizing the information from the attached link. Best of luck my friend!

https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs142p2_018551.pdf.

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Categories: Tools, Cover Crops, NRCS

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Pat Rogers Blenheim, SC
Apr 8
Thanks. We'll give it a try rolling some green and see what kind of natural kill we get. I wonder why there is a faster increase in OM with chemical burndown? Do you think it's because the decomposition process is sped up when chemicals are used vs natural termination?

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I almost forgot - NRCS has some recommended cover crops tailored to specific cash crops - I would recommend reaching out. Those here in Tennessee are tailored specifically to cotton, soybean, and corn so I have to do additional research for what is most suited to vegetable production.

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That is the working theory. It would also explain why there are smaller yields with organic fertilizer than with commercial - commercial fertilizer is all completely available to the plant once it is incorporated, while organic requires a full season to break down. We even do this with our compost - Mother Nature takes a full year or more at lower temperatures, while we increase the temps in order to accomplish the same thing during the summer.

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By Kelly Griggs
Published Apr 15 

We spray a one chemical burndown infront of the roller crimper. The planter plants immediately behind the crimper. We plant such a high biomass that simply rolling the covers down, tends to encourage regrowth.