The Roloflex is a crimper roller designed to work on raised beds. This tool can also crush green manures on uneven ground where a classic rigid roller could not do the job.
This first version of the roller is being tested at a market garden in the Isère region (South East France), at the agricultural college of Wintzenheim and with the GRAB organisation in Avignon. The design still needs to be improved and validated (details below).
TRIALS AND EXPERIMENTS
In the season to come, the Roloflex and a strip-till prototype will be trialled on different green manures and vegetable crops, to test this tool in a diversified farming context.
The first tests carried out in November 2013 on sorghum were positive, even though the variety and stage of growth of the sorghum were not adapted to the work carried out, as you can see in the video.
The changes envisaged following the trial in November 2013 are as follows:
- take out the depth wheel which rolls on the top of the bed to ensure the roller is in permanent contact with the ground
- replace the cage depth wheels on the sides with tyre wheels to allow a more comfortable drive at higher speeds (8 to 10 kms an hour)
- widen the roller by adding two extra discs to replace the work previously done by the cage wheels (on beds 120cms with a centre distance of 170cms)
- prolong the vertical arms that hold the hub to avoid the blades in the middle of the roller brushing against the lower part of the bar on high raised beds. 5cms would be sufficient to prevent this.
USING THE ROLLER
As the video and photos show, the roller can be pushed or pulled depending on the combination of implements required. For the November 2013 trial, the roller was placed on the front of the tractor, with the strip-till and the transplanter on the back. The transplanter marks out two lines for sowings or transplants of crops like maize, beans, potatoes, cabbage or leeks. Although the soil conditions for the trial were wet, the result of the work shown in the video is satisfactory.
With less plant cover, a pass to open the furrow (before working with the transplanter) might not have been necessary. Similarly, in soil with good structure, the blades to loosen up the soil would not necessarily be useful, and could even be detrimental.
The strip-till tool has been mounted in such a way that it can be lowered at the beginning of the bed whilst keeping the transplanter lifted. The transplanter is lowered only when the tractor is in the right position, which maximises the use of space at the ends of the beds.
TAKE PART IN DEVELOPING THIS IMPLEMENT
More modifications will allow this implement to continue to develop. If you have experience of these cultivation practices, we warmly invite you to share them so that we can collectively progress towards cover cropping cultivation practices. Undoubtedly, the biggest problem will be finding good green manures which are adapted to different soil and climate conditions and can be integrated into a diversified crop rotation.
Documents to download
Warning! The tool needs to be tested before its design is validated!
The entirety of this article, including descriptions, photos and technical drawings, are available for all to use under a Creative Commons licence. They can be distributed and modified as long as the user mentions their origins (Atelier Paysan) and ensures that all related tools and documents are also under Creative Commons.