Rolling along

BRANDON — Some bean growers are putting inoculant down as they roll their fields in an effort to speed up seeding.

However, Gary McCrea of Ag Shield cautions that this works only when there is plenty of soil moisture near the surface.

“If you’ve got a year with reasonable moisture near the surface so you seed shallow, then it can work quite well,” said McCrea, who sells land rollers sized seven to 70 feet and application units that handle seed and inoculant.

“But if you seed at two inches to get down to good moisture, then you won’t see good results rolling on inoculant. Inoculant needs moisture, and it must be in close proximity to the seed. So it ends up like just about everything in farming. It depends on the weather.”

He said some of his customers report good nodulation, but there were no replicated trials.

“It’s hard to gauge how well it really did work without replicated trials over a period of time,” he said.

“Besides, if you’ve been using inoculants in a field for a number of years, then you stop using them, you’ll still get decent nodulation from the residuals in the soil. Lets just say it didn’t not work.”

While Ag Shield hasn’t done enough work yet to make a recommendation on rolling inoculants, McCrea has stronger opinions about rolling on forage seed.

He said levelling a pasture or hay field results in two things:

  • a level field with a nice firm seedbed
  • a lot of bare ground just waiting to welcome the first viable seeds that come along. Unless producers apply forage seed in front of the roller, the first viable seeds to come along will be Canada thistle

“You’ve made this nice seedbed. You should put some nice seed in it.”

McCrea said the most popular applicator he sells for rollers is a 12-volt, 30-amp unit that handles seed up to the size of canola.

The electric fan is not capable of handling heavier seed. The applicator sells for $5,700.

For producers who want to apply heavier seed, the same Austrian manufacturer supplies a bigger unit with a hydraulically driven fan.

This applicator handles seed up to the size of peas and sells for $8,500.

“When you get up to three rollers, the electric fan isn’t powerful enough to handle the whole width, so you either go with the larger hydraulic drive or two of the smaller electric drives. But 60 amps is a lot to ask of some tractors.”

For more information, contact McCrea at 204-539-2000 or visit

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