This project demonstrates and evaluates the performance of innovative, commercial-scale roller crimper prototype designed by USDA ARS engineers to terminate high-biomass rye and hairy vetch cover crops in a continuous no-till system. When the roller crimper is used to knock down cover crops prior to planting, they lay flat on the field, creating a mulch layer that suppresses weeds, increases soil moisture retention, and reduces soil temperature.


I try a lot of different things. Some are failures and some aren't failures. No matter what the outcome is, its all a learning experience to me. Whatever happens here, I'm excited about it. We'll learn something that we can apply in the future.

— Robb Hinton, Owner, Cedar Plains Farm

lbs/acre of nitrogen fixed by hairy vetch cover crop

Partners anticipate that the weed suppression benefits of this approach may incentivize broader adoption, benefiting soil health, water quality, and agronomic production goals on row crop farms of all size in Virginia and elsewhere in the Chesapeake Bay region.

The project area is located in the Tidewater area of Virginia, where herbicide resistant weeds are a concern. Robert (Robb) Hinton, owner of Cedar Plains Farms is using the roller crimper on 150-300 acres of cropland per year. USDA ARS Scientists Ted Kornecki and and Corey Kichler are working with Robb on the design of the system and providing guidance to help address technical performance. Trent Jones, an Extension specialist based in Lancaster County, Virginia, who is experienced in conducting on-farm research is working with Robb to establish field trials and oversee data collection. Northern Neck Soil and Water Conservation District, Extension, and NRCS technical liaisons are support outreach and education efforts to share results of the project through field day events, presentations at farmer meetings, and Extension publications.