Heading out with a set of Cambridge rolls after a heavy frost can be an effective way of bringing cover crop growth to an end, as the time to establish the following commercial crop approaches.
But for most growers, a device to roll, bruise, crimp and lacerate a well-grown cover crop is a likely necessity.
Essentially, there are three different solutions:
- a knife roller installed on a cultivator to start a shallow, minimal tillage process
- a knife roller fitted as the leading element of a seed drill
- a knife roller operated independently ahead of cultivation or drilling, or in tandem with a direct seed drill for a one-pass solution
Cultivator options are available for the new Amazone Cobra tine and selected models of the Catros short disc implements; for the He-Va V-Profile front press and Disc Roller Contour high-speed disc tillers from Opico; and several Carrier models in Vaderstad’s shallow disc cultivator range.
For a seed drill solution, look to the Amazone Cirrus and Kuhn Aurock machines.
And, if big capacity is a priority, then the knife roller option for Dalbo’s Maxiroll and He-Va TIP land rolls from Opico answer the call while delivering a double hit to the vegetation.
Then there are a multitude of purpose-built rigid and folding devices with multi-blade and chevron-blade concepts that aim to do the job using their inherent weight or ballasted with water and/or metal to tackle the toughest cover crop crimping assignments.
The 3m Proforge Crimpa from Agri-Linc is a double rotor implement, with each rotor carrying six rows of individual blades arranged in a gentle spiral pattern.
The double-edged, hardened steel blades are secured in place on welded supports by four bolts (two at each end) for easy reversing and replacement when worn.
The full-width rotors are mounted on a subframe, which itself is attached to the main frame and headstock assembly by a rubber cushioned clamp.
Two sets of brackets on top of the frame can each hold 320kg of ballast weights, and reflector markers and LED side lights are included as standard.
Prices: Listed at £6,450, with the optional weight kit £625.
A 330mm diameter single-rotor knife roller is available for cover crop crimping or cultivation on the Amazone Cirrus 6003-2 trailed seed drill, selected models in the Catros high-speed disc cultivator range, and on the new eight-row Cobra shallow-working spring tine cultivator.
On the 3m to 9m Catros XL and the 6m and 7m Cobra, the knife roller option is intended to shred stubble or bruise and crimp cover crops, while also starting an ultra-shallow cultivation process if required.
The same applies on the 6m Cirrus seed drill, which has two rows of slim fluted discs to cultivate a tilth in line with the twin-disc openers, which are positioned behind a row of purpose-designed packing tyres.
Here, the knife roller option rolls and crimps cover crop vegetation, which the discs then cut through to make a passage for the following coulters.
For all applications, the knife roller’s reversible blades are offset to their neighbours and alternately set at an opposing angle to form a series of counteracting chevron patterns rather than a continuous spiral.
Each Boron steel blade is secured to carriers on the tube by four bolts, with maintenance-free spherical bearings and face seals used in the assemblies that support the rotor tube.
Arranging the front-mounted tool in sections allows for surface contours to be followed.
Working depth/height relative to the drill and cultivator’s other elements is set by hydraulically adjusting the rotor carrier frame, which in turn is attached to the centre-split main frame.
Prices: The knife roller is a £10,315 option on the 6m Cirrus drill and £14,500 (6m) or £16,095 (7m) for the Cobra cultivator.
On Catros disc cultivators, the option is priced – 3m Catros+ and Catros XL £8,975, 4m £11,640; 5m Catros XL £12,100, 6m £13,485; 7m Catros XL and Catros TX £16,410, 8m £17,985, 9m £20,225.
The widest front-mounted Crop Check crimping roller from Cousins of Emneth comes in three sections, with a central leading unit flanked by two wings positioned behind.
Working width of this hydraulic folding version is 6.2m and there are also rigid 1.5m, 3.2m and 4.2m models.
All come with 660mm diameter rollers with 200mm-high continuous blades formed into a chevron pattern and welded in place.
The blades are purposely “blunt”, says Cousins, to encourages a bruising or crimping rather than cutting action on cover crop vegetation.
A consistent weight of 190kg/m is said to be applied to the spiral blades because of their shape and this can be increased by up to 150kg/m for larger, tougher-stemmed plants by adding water to the roller tube.
Prices: 3.2m rigid £6,190; 4.2m rigid £9,690; 6.2m folding £14,580.
A Kniferoller bladed cover crop crimper is one of several different leading tools that can be added to Dalbo’s Maxiroll roller for levelling cultivated ground, pasture grooming and other applications.
The Kniferoller attaches to the standard mountings of the 6.3m and 8.3m versions, and is therefore interchangeable with the other tools.
Although the trailed unit operates separately from a seed drill, Dalbo says it is designed as a high-speed implement, which gives the roller high rotational and impact speeds.
And there is the double-treatment effect of the bladed roller tool working in combination with the rolling rings that follow, especially when the more aggressive 550mm diameter cast cross combi rings are fitted.
The crop bruising and crimping element is mounted on single-leaf springs that allow some movement, and with hydraulic cylinders that provide pressure adjustment and the ability to lift the tool out of work.
On the 6.3m Maxiroll, the assembly is arranged in six sections across the working width, which helps in following surface contours, and there are two sets of six spiral blades per section, offset from one another.
Prices: A 6.3m Maxiroll with cross combi rings and the Kniferoller is £31,000.
Two versions of He-Va’s Top Cutter are available – the tractor-mounted Solo, which deploys two knife rollers in a tandem arrangement, and a single-roller attachment to fit the front of another implement.
In both cases, each 400mm diameter rotor carries six rows of curved blades bolted to supports on the rotor tube and formed into a shallow true chevron pattern across each section of the implement.
The single-roller Top Cutter attachment is designed to complement the soil-working activity of implements such as the V-Profile front press and the Disc Roller Contour high-speed disc cultivators, including XL versions.
It is also available on 6.3m, 7.3m, 8.2m, 9.5m and 10.2m sizes in the TIP/TIP XL range of land rollers to form an implement that delivers a double-hit treatment to cover crop vegetation.
The rolls are available with cast Cambridge-only or Cambridge-plus-breaker rings, and offer high work rate cover crop crimping and bruising thanks to fast speeds and generous widths.
Designed for front- or rear-mounting on a tractor, the tandem roller Solo model comes in five widths – rigid 3m and 4m, folding 4m, 5m and 6m – with the rotors attached to the main frame by trailing arms and rubber-cushioned clamps.
These apparently provide resilience against impact shocks.
For added safety, the chevron-pattern knife rotors are housed beneath a steel hood with rubber curtains at the rear to limit soil and vegetation being thrown on to the tractor.
Prices: A 3m Top Cutter for a V-Profile press is priced £5,537; a 3m Top Cutter Solo is £9,409 from importer Opico.
With two rotors of 300mm diameter and potential working speeds of up to 20kph, the Horsch Cultro TC is designed for high output bruising and crimping of cover crop vegetation.
It is also capable of shallow cultivation post-oilseed rape cropping, says the manufacturer, with a two- or three-row flexible tine harrow and three packer roller designs also available to suit different applications.
Cultro TCs have two rows of bladed rollers (slightly offset from one another on some models) to provide an intensive bruising and crimping action across the full working width.
Four bolts secure each of the six single-edge blades to welded supports on the rotor tube, and they are mounted at an angle to create an offset spiral effect.
Sections are mounted to the main frame and hitch assembly by rubber-filled clamps to allow some pivoting movement over surface undulations and resilience against impacts.
To complement the inherent mass of the implement, a number of wafer weights can be bolted to the headstock as ballast.
In terms of sizes and configurations, the options are pretty comprehensive, starting with 2.9m rigid and 4.6m and 5.7m folding models available for front- or rear-mounting.
There is also a 9m rear-mounted version, and trailed fold-up, fold-forward in 12.2m and 18.2m variants – plus packer and flexible tine harrow options.
Prices: 2.9m Cultro 3 TC front-mounted £9,920, rear-mounted with packer £13,400; 4.6m Cultro 5 TC front-mounted £16,930; rear-mounted with harrow £22,880; 5.7m Cultro 6 TC front-mounted £19,620, rear-mounted with harrow £25,970.
The 9m Cultro 9 TC rear-mounted is £31,480, with a tine harrow adding £9,510; 12.2m Cultro 12 TC trailed with harrow £79,780, with packer £82,140; 18.2m Cultro 18 TC trailed with harrow £122,250, with packer £125,740.
A knife roller option is available for the Aurock 6000 seed drill from Kuhn, giving the machine the ability to process cover crops and sow the next commercial crop in one pass.
The trailed Aurock is equipped with a single staggered row of straight-running discs – either 460mm wavy edge or narrower-working 430mm embossed pattern.
These are aligned with double-disc openers positioned on a pivoting coulter frame at the back of the drill, behind the transport or packer wheels.
The single-row knife roller is mounted rigidly to the drill’s centre-split main frame on pivoting arms with hydraulic cylinders providing remote depth or pressure adjustment and also an element of springing to absorb shock loads from impacts.
Each blade is attached to carriers on the rotor tube by two bolts and set at an angle to create an offset chevron pattern.
Prices: The knife roller is a £9,965 option for the Aurock drill.
This Lincolnshire-based manufacturer of assorted light equipment such as pasture rollers and aerators, link boxes and a compact potato lifter, produces a cover crop crimping roller in standard and bespoke sizes.
The linkage-mounted crimpers are constructed from 410mm to 460mm steel tube with 100mm-tall curved blades welded in place to form a true chevron pattern.
Adding water to the tube increases weight to enhance the implement’s impact on larger, tougher vegetation, upping the mass of the 1.82m version from 300-400kg to 800-900kg and for the 3m version from 700-800kg to 1,500-1,800kg.
Other standard sizes are 0.9m, 1.22m and 1.52m, and all can be had with Cat I or Cat II hitches, a towing hitch, ‘A’ frame pin hitch or a ball hitch.
Prices: 0.9m £1,495; 1.22m £1,795; 1.52m £1,995; and 1.82m £2,395 from Portapack Engineering.
A 2.6m centre section plus hydraulically folding wings set behind create the 4.2m, 5.2m and 6.2m working widths of the Primewest Crimper Roller.
The front-mounted implement is intended for working in combination with a towed seed drill (Primewest distributes the Cross-Slot) to bruise and crimp cover crop foliage at the same time as establishing the next crop.
Each section of the implement carries 10 rows of blades bolted to a tube and shaped to form a spiral on the wings and a true chevron pattern on the central unit.
Hardox wear-resistant steel is used for the blades and a form of cushioning suspension features on the largest model to help the rollers follow surface contours and provide impact shock resilience.
All roller sections can be partially or fully filled with water to provide extra weight when tackling large, tough-stemmed cover crop plants, and there is provision to fit the company’s Big Box storage bin as ballast or to carry parts or tools.
In addition to the standard builds, Primewest is looking to develop crimper kits for existing land roller frames for multi-usage and wider working widths.
Prices: The 6.2m model starts at £14,375.
Despite not being a folding implement, a triple roller setup is the configuration chosen by Devon-based TT Engineering for its 3.15m-wide front-mounted cover crop crimper.
The layout of a leading central roller and two outer units set close behind was chosen to promote even working pressure and contour following, says the manufacturer.
To that end, each roller is mounted on spherical bearings, so they can move in any direction to follow ground surface undulations individually and to apply equal weight to the crop.
In addition, adjustable air-over-hydraulic pressure is available to each of the three rollers so that they can be fine-tuned to suit different cover crops and situations, and to ensure that pressure is evenly distributed across the machine.
In standard form, the implement weighs around 1,700kg.
Overall diameter of the rollers is 400mm, with the blades CNC milled and bolted in place to form a true chevron configuration.
A narrow 100mm spacing is intended to ensure that the implement works effectively on short as well as longer plants.
Prices: £18,000 for the 3.15m model, with other sizes available to order.
A knife roller option is available for selected models of Vaderstad’s Carrier high-speed disc cultivator.
Designed to cut, crush and lacerate cover crop plants to help incorporation by the two rows of discs that follow, the CrossCutter Knife attachment has six rows of blades shaped to form a spiral pattern.
Blades are bolted to a series of slim supports that hold them clear of the small diameter roller tube.
Each blade group is attached by trailing arms to a triangular cross-section toolbar by clamps featuring rubber inserts that allow some movement for following surface contours and provide impact cushion.
The toolbar can be adjusted hydraulically to set the required pressure for the blades to roll and process the vegetation.
Vaderstad’s CrossCutter Knife attachment is available on all Carrier disc cultivators from the 420 model onwards (so excluding the 300 to 400 and Carrier X 425 to 625), including XL versions with adjustable disc angle of attack.
Prices: An option for 5m Carrier 500 at £9,420; 650 £10,570 (taking the complete machine with 450mm discs and single SteelRunner pressed steel packer to £59,110); 925 £15,450 and 1225 £19,705).
For 4.25m Carrier XL 425 £8,710; 525 £9,360; 625 £9,530 – for a complete implement price with 510mm TrueCut discs and single SteelRunner of £68,215.