The Imprinting Foundation



15 August 15, 2003

Robert M. Dixon, PhD

When I invented land imprinting and land imprinters back in 1976, these names were selected from several considered such as printing, stamping, tracking, indenting, impressing, marking, etc. because of the two important connotations about the process that I wanted to convey. First was the connotation of leaving a good mark on one thing by applying pressure with a machine. At that time, the action of typewriters and credit card imprinters were good examples of paper imprinters. The second was the connotation of longevity or a lasting impression such as psychological imprinting by early cultural experiences. So "imprinting" conveyed not only the idea that a mark was being made, but that it was a lasting mark or impression. Thus, imprinting not only makes a good seedbed, geometrically, to capture rainwater, but that it remains functional for years to come-two factors especially relevant to revegetating arid lands where rainfall is very limited and extremely erratic, spatiotemporally.

During the past quarter century land imprinting and imprinters have been referred to variously by the labels:

 1.   Disking

 2.  Pitting

 3.   Rolling

 4.   Roller Chopping

 5.   Sheep's-foot Roller

 6.   Rolling Buffalo

 7.   Dixon 's Dimpler

 8.   Indenting

 9.   Impressor

10. Star Roller/Rolling

11. Cross Roller/Rolling

12. Star/Cross Roller

13. Wedging Roller

14. Implanter/Implanting

15. Angler/Angling

16. Wedger/Wedging

17. Mean Green Machine

18. Rolling Stars

19. Rolling Crosses

20. Rolling/Biting Teeth

21. Wild Thing

The foregoing labels are not listed chronologically in the order in which they were noted, but simply in the order that they came to mind. In this order I'll comment on each.

1.   Disking-A common conventional tillage method wherein angled (set) disks cut into and invert the soil for weed control and seedbed preparation. Soil disturbance is almost always excessive.

2.   Pitting-A common planting method often using a modified diskplow wherein part of the disks are removed to give a pitting pattern. Soil disturbance is excessive.

3.   Rolling-A smooth roller is used to flatten the soil surface by compaction and clod breaking to prepare a seedbed. Smoothing increases runoff and erosion.

4.   Rolling Chopper-Refers to a heavy rolling chopper with blades welded to the circumference of a roller for chopping small shrubs or brush in rangelands. Similar to rolling imprinter except imprinters make better V-shaped depressions for holding resources in place than do the choppers.

5.   Sheep's-foot Roller-Designed for soil compaction not land imprinting because the foot is not vee or wedge-shaped.

6.   Rolling Buffalo -A land imprinter reflecting the fact that the American bison (buffalo) was historically the natural land imprinter of the Great Plains Region of United States. A single hoofprint provides a useful seedbed for Plains species, but repeated hoofprinting causes soil compaction.

7.   Dixon 's Dimpler-Coworker's humor mainly, but imprints can be logically referred to as dimples in the soil surface or in the face of Mother Earth.

8.   Indenting-A process like imprinting but does not have the connotation of a lasting impression.

9.   Impressor-The Spanish word for imprinter.

10. Star Roller/Rolling-A name reflecting the geometry of rings of imprinting teeth welded on the imprinting roller.

11. Cross Roller/Rolling-A name reflecting the geometry of 4-pointed rings of imprinting teeth welded on the imprinting roller.

12. Star/Cross Roller-A name reflecting the geometry revealed in Islamic Art of a combination roller.

13. Wedging Roller-An imprinting roller named to reflect the mechanical process of imprinting.

14. Implanter/Implanting-Used especially by ranchers in the Southwest who are apparently confusing imprinting with familiar term in Veterinary science. Or maybe it's a combination of two terms-imprinting and planting.

15. Angler/Angling-Refers to the fact that imprinting teeth are short pieces of steel angle with the right angle heels extended radially outward and with the leg tips welded to the steel roller. Can be confused with a fisherman and fishing.

16. Wedger/Wedging-The mechanical function of the Imprinter/Imprinting.

17. Mean Green Machine-Refers to the fact that imprinters are painted mostly a leafy green color with the toothy roller painted bright red orange. Given its color, shape and behavior, it's not hard to imagine a certain amount of meanness-furthermore it rhymes and coworkers like a name they can easily remember.

18. Rolling Stars-A name that is descriptive of the geometric and functional design of land imprinters---often the right-angle, 8-pointed star so common in Islamic Art and often present as ceramic tile used in mosque construction. The right-angle, 8-pointed star is the logo of The Imprinting Foundation.

19. Rolling Crosses-As in No. 18, this is also a name that is descriptive of the geometric and functional design of land imprinters-often a four-pointed star or cross common in Islamic Art and often present as ceramic tile used in mosque construction. The right angle star and cross forms an interlocking pattern in some designs.

20. Rolling/Biting Teeth-This name refers to the fact that the imprinting roller can be envisioned as a cylindrical mouth full of teeth that rolls along chewing up (mulching) existing vegetation, plant materials, and litter while making imprints to hold resources. This mulch serves in several beneficial roles including evaporation suppression, raindrop impact reduction, and food for soil invertebrate animals that greatly accelerate infiltration and aeration through their burrowing activities. Thus, the imprinting teeth bite into and through the surface plant material using a firm to hard soil surface as a chopping block. In soft soil imbedding occurs.

21. Wild Thing-Name given to imprinter made by Agricat.

Finally the purpose of this essay on naming of Land Imprinting and Land Imprinters is to convey to readers how this new approach to no-tillage was greeted by coworkers and the public including many current and future users. Because, how we view new science and technology often determines the level of our success in using it. In this light, imprinters have also been called Holy Rollers because of the devotion that promoters often exhibit. Furthermore, belief in a new contraption is often important to realizing its full potential under a wide range of operating conditions. This is certainly true of the no-till concept in general and land imprinting in particular. If we have the pessimistic view that a new contraption won't work, it often becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. However, the optimist does not question whether or not a new contraption will work, but rather how to make it work. The test of time has proven that imprinters do work when used properly and are greatly superior for sustainable land production compared to methods used heretofore. Imprinting is also superior for controlling non-point source pollution from crop and wildland areas-a problem of increasing importance with the passage of time.


The Imprinting Foundation
1616 E. Lind Road
Tucson, AZ 85719

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