Build a Fully Functional Roller Crimper on a Budget

A step-by-step guide on how to build a roller crimper for roughly 20% of the cost of a new brand-name crimper.

Cover crop termination can be difficult. Often its success is dependent on region, weather and other uncontrollable factors. According to our survey data from the 2022 Cover Crop Benchmark Study, 15.38% of respondents used a roller crimper to terminate covers, compared to 7% in 2021, indicating that the roller crimper is becoming increasingly popular as no-tillers seek alternatives to herbicides to terminate cover crops. Unfortunately, these machines — like most farm equipment — can be extremely costly. Ryan Schmid, a research scientist with Ecdysis Foundation in rural South Dakota, and his team of researchers partnered with a group of local farmers to attempt to solve this problem. 

The group came up with an idea to repurpose a used disc into a low-cost roller crimper.  They received a grant from North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE), with the caveat that they were only allowed to use a small portion of the grant on actual supplies. 

“Our total budget for this build and for the supplies was $6,740,” Schmid says. “We knew we were going to have to get creative to build a roller crimper for that amount of money.”


Click to enlarge

DOING THE MATH. The first mathematical step, Schmid says, was measuring the center of the disc frame and determining that they could fit an 11-foot drum inside of the frame. After that, they decided on 6 rows of blades on the drum of the crimper with 11 blades per row. The blades overlap by 1 inch

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Mackane vogel

Mackane Vogel

Mackane Vogel is the Assistant Editor of Farm Equipment, No-Till Farmer, Cover Crop Strategies and other Lessiter Media publications. An avid writer for the last 10 years, he previously served as the editorial intern for 88Nine Radio Milwaukee and also wrote for several different sports journalism outlets before joining the Lessiter Media team in 2022. Mackane is a 2020 journalism graduate of Marquette University.


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