Kipling S. Balkcom, USDA-ARS
In conservation tillage systems, cash crop seeds or transplants are placed in the soil through cover crop residues on the soil surface. The residue inhibits weed emergence, increases rainfall infiltration, conserves soil moisture, keeps the soil cool and prevents the soil erosion and nutrient loss associated with rainfall runoff. Soil compaction is reduced because the grower makes fewer passes over the field and can use lighter equipment. Cover crops are terminated at least three weeks before cash crop planting to avoid competition with the cash crop for water and nutrients.
In this chapter, equipment and strategies for rolling/crimping cover crops are described. Equipment modifications are detailed for combining herbicide application and rolling/crimping in one pass. Select equipment for planting field crops and vegetable crops through residue is described. Planting equipment modifications are discussed including row cleaners, shanks, closing wheels and seed firmers.