Project objectives from proposal:
Rolled down cover crops can provide sufficient weed suppression to allow no-tillage organic production. Recent research by the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, PA has shown successful weed suppression by rolled down cover crops. This technique is relatively simple. Growers plant a fall cover crop mixture of rye and vetch or other appropriate cover crop and roll it down in the spring when covers have reached sufficient maturity to ensure cover crop kill. Then field crops are no-till drilled into the resulting thick mulch.
There are various types of roller equipment. We will used the roller crimper developed by the Rodale Institute which minimizes vibration and allows for greater tractor speeds . The roller will be front mounted which has been shown to improve kill for vetch and rye which otherwise springs back where tractor tires instead of the roller compress cover crops. Recent research shows that high plant populations in soy bean are an important element to weed control in the roll-down systems . We will plant at relatively high rates to ensure successful yields.
However, this technique has not been established by many farmers and questions remain, particularly timing of cover crop rolling, cover crop variety and species selection, and the effects of this technology on cash crop variety selection. Of farmers working with Rodale to try the technique two out of four had to abandon their trials due to drought or farmer oversight . In other regions on farm trials have been established  but these trials include cover crop species not suitable for the climate in this region.
Due to our close proximity to the Rodale Institute researcher Dave Wilson has agreed to consult with us on this project. This will allow us to build off of six years of research conducted at Rodale. Wilson will visit the site two times during the season and be available for consultation by phone.