Combined seed drill, benefits and applications

June 5, 2024

In farming, seeding is a crucial operation which may determine the success or failure of a crop. But what is the secret of a really effective process? The answer starts from the land itself, its careful preparation and choice of the ideal seed drill.

The secrets of effective seed drilling

Success starts from the ground

Preparation of the ground is a crucial step in seeding in the field, and may be fundamental to a crop’s success. Properly prepared ground offers the optimum environment for seeds’ planting and growth, enabling them to root themselves firmly in the earth and obtain the nutrients they need. What’s more, good tillage helps to guarantee the right aeration, drainage and water intake, key factors for plants’ growth and for maximising crop yields.

Given these factors, it’s easy to understand how fundamental seed-soil contact is. Therefore it’s essential for both mechanical procedures, suitable for specific farming and climate conditions, and the subsequent cultivation phases, to be directed to achieving this.

The soil is a living environment, rich in biodiversity and consisting of multiple, highly variable physical, biological and chemical characteristics. External agents are also fundamental: for example, the weather can either support crops’ growth or hinder it due to adverse events (drought, pests, torrential rain, low fertility, low temperatures, etc.). Mechanical seed drilling must bear all these factors in mind and proceed in accordance with a targeted strategy.

The right seed drill

Given the complexity of the process, the seed drill is the best machine for guaranteeing uniform seed distribution and the right seeding depth. Latest-generation models are equipped with advanced technologies that allow precise regulation of the quantity of seeds distributed and adaptation to different soil conditions. The most common errors during seed drilling include:

  1. Errors in dosing the seeds in relation to the size of the area for seeding. Over-dosing is particularly dangerous as it may cause competition between plants.
  2. Uneven distribution. This could cause excessive density, overlaps or unseeded areas, reducing crops’ growth and yield.
  3. Failure to diversify crops: continuing to grow just one type of crop implies risks such as nutrient depletion and loss of biodiversity.
  4. Compacting of the ground: traditionally, seed drilling is carried out after previous processes which involve multiple passes with even large tractors. The repeated pressures applied to the ground may be considerable and thus harmful, with the risk of impairing crops’ success.

In general, seed drills can be divided into two large categories:

  • Broadcast seed drills, with mechanical and pneumatic distribution. They are traditionally used for winter cereals (autumn-spring, like wheat), tiny seeds, forage crops, pulses, green manure crops, etc.
  • Precision seed drills, mentioned here only to complete the picture, which have a variety of distribution systems capable of depositing single seeds. They are used on crops seeded in rows, such as corn, sunflower and sugar beet, where the distance between plants is very important.
combined seed drilling

Why a combined seed drill is crucial

Compared to traditional seeding, choosing to combine multiple machines offers many benefits in terms of efficiency, sustainability and crop quality. This approach means multiple procedures can be performed simultaneously, cutting the time needed to finish the job and optimising the use of resources. It also helps to reduce the environmental impact of farming practices, lowering the greenhouse gas emissions caused by burning fuel.

Using a seed drill combined with other agricultural machines means 3 fundamental operations – tilling, seeding and fertilising – can be carried out in a single pass. It’s important to remember, moreover, that combined seeding is one of the pillars of conservation farming, which aims to minimise changes to the soil and preserve the health of agricultural ecosystems. In fact, its key features include reducing tilling procedures, keeping the ground permanently covered with plant residues or cover crops, and crop rotation.

Minimum tillage and no-till seeding

Use of a combined seed drill forms part of the minimum tillage approach, since it is much less invasive and therefore better able to conserve the soil’s structure. It aims to disturb the soil as little as possible by restricting the most invasive processes, in order to conserve organic matter and keep plant residues on the surface. Due to these countless benefits, combined seed drilling is ideal not only for economic reasons but above all due to its agronomic plus factors.

In terms of crops, combined seeding directly on untilled ground can help to conserve soil moisture levels, since the plant residues on the surface of the terrain act as a mulch to reduce water evaporation. This may be particularly beneficial in view of climate change, which is affecting seasonal variability, especially in regions at risk of droughts and water shortages.

The Alpego solutions

As we’ve already seen, with the arrival of the seeding seasons this phase becomes the most important operation. Naturally, it’s advisable to choose professional models to make sure seeding is performed precisely, fundamental for a successful crop. In a more and more competitive, fast-evolving market, Alpego has recognised the need to offer customers reliable, versatile, quality solutions completely tailored to their requirements.

Our seed drills are designed to deliver the optimal balance between the demands of high performance and ease of use, thanks to exclusive features like the DOSAL volumetric metering unit, the Turbo ROTAL device, the fuel-saving turbine drive with hydraulic motor, the ergonomic hopper and the quick linkage for rapid detachment of the seeding bar. Alpego combined seed drills are designed for use in the toughest, most heavy-duty conditions, with impressive performance and high working flows.

They’re designed to optimise tillage and guarantee precise, even seeding in even the hardest working conditions. To enable this, the Rubber seeding bar adapts to all conditions, for use on dry, wet, stony and sticky soil and on ground with crop residues. The wide choice of possible combinations offered by Alpego, such as power and disc harrows, in association with a variety of rollers and many other accessories, means that the right solution can always be found to all requirements.

Choose your combined seed drill

So let’s take a closer look at the Alpego range:

  • • The user-friendly, highly versatile JET-M pneumatic seed drill is compatible with a vast range of Alpego power harrows With 1000 l steel hopper, it’s the ideal model for working with tractors with power from 85 to 250 HP. It has two possible configurations: FAST, with rapid release of the seed drill from the attachment to allow use of the power harrow on its own; AUTO-LEVEL, allowing the seeding depth to be maintained constant even as harrow depth varies.

  • The JET-X pneumatic seed drill, designed for intensive use in professional farming, is compatible with a vast range of Alpego power and disc harrows. With 1500 l steel hopper, it’s the ideal model for working with tractors from 120 to 320 HP. It also incorporates innovative ISOBUS technology for control of all its functions directly from the driving seat.

One ground-breaking feature of our seed drills is the Turbo ROTAL device, a spinning impeller located in the centre of the distribution head, that promotes more continuous, uniform distribution of the seed even in hilly areas, reducing the uniformity error between seeding rows by up to 40%.

Turbo ROTAL device

The range also includes the Alpego multifunctional front hoppers, able to distribute both seeds and fertiliser, even simultaneously. Want to know all about fertilising? Don’t miss our upcoming article on this topic !

Conclusions

The combined seed drill marks a major development in modern farming, enabling farmers to optimise resources, reduce environmental impacts and maximise yields. With the right choice of seed drill and good ground preparation, farmers can ensure effective, sustainable seeding and thus help to make the farming of the future both more resilient and more productive.

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