Field day will explore two farmers’ experience using a custom-built roller-crimper on cereal rye – June 15, near Churdan

For Release: June 7, 2016

CHURDAN, Iowa — Cover crops are an increasingly common sight on Iowa farm fields, but roller-crimpers, an implement that can help extend some of the benefits of cover crops offer by letting farmers delay termination, are still a rarity in the Midwest.

“Roller-crimpers aren’t that common in the U.S., but they’ve been used for about three decades in South America,” says Billy, who farms at FC Hunter IRRV Trust near Churdan. “With roller-crimpers, you can let cover crop biomass grow taller and longer into the spring than what a conventional farmer might do.”

He says this extra cover crop growth extends the soil and water quality benefits cover crops provide while helping to suppress weeds and retain soil moisture. He adds that, while many university-led roller-crimper experiments have focused on organic systems, conventional farmers who want to reduce their use of herbicides have also found roller-crimpers to be helpful.

Billy, along with George Naylor, a neighbor who also farms, will showcase the results of their own experiment with using a roller-crimper ahead of planting soybeans at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day they are hosting on Wednesday, June 15, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., near Churdan. Billy and George received a Sustainable Education Research and Education (SARE) grant from North Central SARE Farmer-Rancher program to test using a roller-crimper to terminate cover crops in corn-soybean production systems, and to determine how an organic bio-soil enhancer affects soil properties and plant health.

The event – “Effects of a Custom-Made Roller-Crimper on Rye Cover” – is free to attend, and will feature a lunch provided by local chefs Tony Pille and Chris Place. RSVPs are requested for the meal. Please contact Lauren Zastrow at or (515) 232-5661 by Friday, June 10. The field day will take place at George’s farm, Naylor Farm, located at 1204 120th St., a few miles northeast of Churdan.

The event is sponsored by Blue River Hybrids Organic Seed, Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District, Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), North Central SARE and Organic Crop Improvement Association International.

Guests will see a field on George’s farm with soybeans emerging from a cereal rye cover crop terminated with the roller-crimper a few weeks earlier. They will get to help assess how well the roller-crimper did at terminating the cover crop, and whether the resulting straw mulch is providing weed suppression. Attendees will also get to see the roller-crimper, which was manufactured locally by Minnehan Metal Works, and hear from the builder, Anthony Minnehan. Other speakers will include Ajay Nair and Kathleen Delate, with Iowa State University’s Department of Horticulture, who will share details on 10 years of experience terminating cover crops using a roller-crimper in vegetable and grain production.

Billy is in the process of transitioning to organic certification and is incorporating many no-till principles. George raises corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa, and is transitioning to organic on part of his farm. In preparation for the organic transition, both farmers have recently added buffers and pollinator strips as Conservation Reserve Program quail habitat to attract beneficial insects. Billy has begun beekeeping with two hives.

From Ames or Carroll: Take U.S. 30 to Jefferson. At the intersection of U.S. 30 and IA Hwy 4, go north on IA Hwy 4 and travel 8 miles toward Churdan. At what’s known as “the 5-mile corner,” stay straight and head toward Paton on County Road P29. Go 2 miles to 120th Street and turn left. The field day site is about 1.5 miles.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2016 field day season features 25 field days around Iowa. All field days are open to the public, and most are free to attend. A guide is available online at, or contact the PFI office at (515) 232-5661 to request a printed copy.

Practical Farmers’ 2016 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Applegate Organic & Natural Meats; Center for Rural Affairs; Featherman Equipment; Grain Millers, Inc.; Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH); Iowa Cover Crop; Iowa Environmental Council; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; ISU Extension and Outreach; ISU Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES); MOSA Organic Certification; National Wildlife Federation; Natural Resources Defense Council; North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); Organic Valley – Organic Prairie – CROPP Cooperative; RIMOL Greenhouse Systems; Riverside Feeds, LLC; Soil First; The Yield Lab; Trees Forever; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; Welter Seed & Honey Co.; and Willcross Soybeans.


Practical Farmers of Iowa strengthens farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information-sharing. Our values include: welcoming everyone; creativity, collaboration and community; viable farms now and for future generations; and stewardship and ecology. Founded in 1985, farmers in our network raise corn, soybeans, livestock, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. To learn more, visit


Billy Sammons | FC Hunter IRRV Trust | (515) 391-0150 |

Tamsyn Jones | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |