Roller-Crimping Cover Crops on Irrigated Organic Cropland

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2023: $24,935.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2026
Host Institution Award ID: G180-24-W9982
Grant Recipient: Tuxedo Farms
Region: Western
State: Colorado
Principal Investigator:
David Harold
Tuxedo Farms


  • Agronomic: pinto beans


  • Crop Production: cover crops, no-till, stubble mulching
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration, soil stabilization
  • Pest Management: allelopathy, mulches - killed, smother crops
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: water infiltration

    Proposal summary:

    One of the main problems of organic systems is tillage-reliance. Tillage can contribute to soil erosion, which has negative impacts on soil health and farmers’ long-term livelihoods. Alternatively, no-till systems help prevent soil loss, and lessen labor and fuel costs for farmers. 

    This project aims to abate the tillage-reliance common in organic systems by researching adaptation of organic no-till systems common in the Midwest and North-Earth in the Western Slope region of Colorado. To determine best practices in the dry West, this project will:

    • Determine the best performing winter cereal grain to use as the rolled-down mat by testing two varieties of winter rye and winter triticale and optimal planting dates of the winter cereal grain by comparing two dates between September 15 and October 15. Results for these two questions will be assessed through UAV imagery, tiller count, and weight of above ground cereal and weed biomass. 
    • Determine the need for a roller crimper to adequately terminate the winter cereal will also be determined through UAV imagery and measurement of water use efficiency. Water use efficiency and weed control will also be compared under tilled and no till organic systems. 
    • Assess the results of cash crop (pinto bean) seed saving in organic no till systems.

    Reducing tillage is imperative to farmers in Colorado’s Western Slope regions as sloped land is more susceptible to erosion from tillage practices. The significance of the findings from this project will help farmers adapt no-till organic systems to minimize erosion, strengthen soil structure, and improve agronomic outcomes compared to full till systems.

    The progress and results from this project will be disseminated among other ag stakeholders through a series of public facing events and extension-type publications in local ag-media and through peer to peer networking. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Research objectives:

    1 - Determine best performing species and varieties of winter cereal grain to use as a rolled-down mat in the Western Slope region of Colorado.

    2 - Determine best planting date of winter cereal grain

    3 - Determine if roller-crimper is needed for adequate termination of winter cereal

    4 - Pinto beans seed saving

    5 - Measure water use efficiency and infiltration as influenced by rolled-down cereal

    6 - Compare weed control under tilled and no-till organic pinto bean production


    Education objectives:

    1 - Expose local public, farmers/ ranchers and ag professionals to organic crop production

    2 - Expose local ag professionals and farmers/ ranchers to technical service provider - grower research collaboration

    3 - Provide organic crop farmers in the Western slope with relatable research results

    4 - Strengthens and expand organic grain grower and ag-professionals community around group-learning

    5 - Familiarize local growers with Rodale Consulting services

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.