Multifunctional hoppers and their use: the complete guide

June 4, 2024

The farming of the future is based on innovation and efficiency, and multifunctional hoppers are a key tool in this context. By combining precision seeding with targeted fertiliser distribution, these machines are revolutionising the way users tackle the challenges facing the sector. Find out how combined seed drilling with multifunctional hoppers can optimise your production process and save time and resources.

Multiple processes in a single pass

The adoption of combined processes, involving a number of agricultural machines including multifunctional hoppers, offers many benefits in terms of efficiency, sustainability and crop quality. In fact, this farming method allows multiple operations – i.e. tilling, seeding and/or fertilising – to be carried out simultaneously, significantly shortening working times and optimising the use of the resources available.

The principles of conservation farming and minimal tillage, in which tillage of the soil is restricted to conserve its structure, biodiversity and chemical components, help to reduce the environmental impact of farming practices and thus cut greenhouse gas emissions. With more versatile machines, seed drilling or fertilising can be performed directly on untilled ground, even covered with crop residues, with precise placing of the products applied. The use of multifunctional hoppers is strategic in this context.

Want to know more? read the article about the combined seed drill .

Multifunctional hoppers

Seed and/or fertiliser hoppers generally consist of a steel tank of varying capacity. They may be mounted on the front or rear of the tractor depending on the model chosen. They’re equipped with one or more distribution systems which dose the outgoing product flow precisely and uniformly. The entire distribution process can be controlled manually or automatically, depending on the technology available on the tractor used.

Hoppers can be designed to distribute different types of products, such as seeds of a wide variety of crops, granular and organic fertilisers, green manure and mixtures or other specific products. With a number of electronic controls, these machines enable efficient operation with less stress for the operator, by reducing the complexities involved in these fundamental farming procedures.

Precision and localised fertilising

Following the principles of precision farming, farms are investing in technologies intended to minimise costs and maximise results. The aim is to get the best from crops while eliminating any waste and only performing the procedures really essential for production.

In line with this approach, localised fertiliser application aims to distribute nutrients directly to the area around plants’ roots. Or fertilising can be combined with seeding, so seeds are placed in the ground together with a granular fertiliser, instead of the traditional broadcast distribution. Both these methods reduce waste and maximise the effectiveness of the nutrients applied. This approach allows crops to be given what they need at the best time, optimising nutrient absorption and providing a healthier harvest.

All the benefits

Localising fertiliser application by means of hoppers improves the agronomic efficiency of crop production, by:

  • Reducing the average distance between plants’ roots and the fertiliser;
  • Creating a zone with a high concentration of elements, which helps to make more nutrients available to the plant, especially during initial root formation;
  • Reducing wastage of fertiliser caused when it is absorbed by weeds, above all during the early stages of crop growth;
  • Increasing plants’ resistance to climate change by compensating the reduced natural nutrient levels in the soil.

A multifunctional hopper is a more efficient and effective way of performing localised fertilising. The machine allows the amount of fertiliser to be applied to be dosed precisely, and placed exactly where it is needed, close to plants’ roots. This reduces waste and ensures uniform distribution of nutrients within the soil.

Multifunctional hopper

Find the right Alpego model for you

Alpego agricultural machines are created to meet the industry’s needs, combining technology, unbeatable reliability, precision and sustainability. The range also includes two models of Alpego multifunctional front hoppers: the ASMAX and ASPRO Fertidrills, built from the best high-strength steel. Generally mounted on the front of the tractor, they allow multiple combinations even with different types of machines, increasing their versatility in use.

ASMAX and ASPRO can work in the toughest conditions, with the best performance guaranteed. They are both able to handle both small and large seeds (e.g. wheat, barley, oats, oilseed rape, clover, soy and peas) and fertiliser effectively. This is possible thanks to the rugged, reliable Dosal volumetric metering unit, able to dose even large quantities of fertilisers (2-450 Kg/ha).

Both versions are equipped with fully electronic seeding management. In the ISOBUS electronically controlled version, the machine is managed entirely from a monitor in the tractor cab, with the benefit of all compatible functions and specific Task Controllers.

Also available is the new AFDS fertiliser distribution system launched at Agritechnica 2023, designed for all front hoppers in combination with precision seed drills, weeders and in general all equipment requiring a fertiliser kit. The yield is increased by the use of new distribution heads and new cyclones.

ASPRO Hopper

Suitable for use by professional farmers, the ASPRO hopper is equally ideal for seed drilling or fertilising. In-field performance is excellent and flow rates are exceptionally high thanks to the 1400 l tank, compliant with all the latest precision farming standards. Compatible with a number of Alpego range power and disc harrows, it is able to work in combination with tractors from 120 to 500 HP. In addition, ASPRO is designed for combined use for seeding cereals up to a width of 6 m.

Given farmers’ many and varied requirements, Alpego has designed and offers two different configurations:

  1. The standard configuration comprises the front hopper, the relative seeding bars and the centralised distribution head, mounted on the bar and complete with Tram-Line system for control of tractor passes. The width during on-road transport is 2.5 m.
  2. The fertiliser configuration, on the other hand, comprises the front hopper and the special fertiliser distribution head with fewer outlets, and is compatible with a wide range of agricultural machines: weeders, precision seed drills, cultivators, harrows, rollers, etc.

ASMAX Hopper

The ASMAX multifunctional hopper, suitable for even the toughest, most heavy-duty conditions, has been developed for highly professional use. Its unique characteristic is the capability to distribute seeds and fertilisers even simultaneously and in large quantities, thanks to its load capacity of 2300 l. Compatible with a number of Alpego range power and disc harrows, it is able to work in combination with tractors from 120 to 500 HP.

In single-product version, ASMAX is designed for seeding cereals up to a width of 8 m or for distributing fertiliser in combination with implements of various kinds (weeder, precision seed drill, cultivator, etc.). Like the ASPRO, the ASMAX hopper can be used in a number of configurations:

  1. The standard configuration comprises: front hopper, the relative seeding bars and the centralised distribution head, mounted on the bars.
  2. The BITUBE configuration comprises: front hopper, the relative seeding bars and two centralised distribution heads, mounted on the bars. This configuration is essential for anyone seeking the maximum yield from a single machine, since the two centralised distribution heads with independent articulated mounts place the seeds and fertiliser in the ground simultaneously.
  3. The fertiliser configuration should be preferred if the hopper is only required to distribute fertiliser, operating in combination with various types of machines (precision seed drills, weeders, cultivators, etc.).

In both standard and Bitube configurations, the harrow and the seeding bar fold down to a width of 2.5 m for on-road transport.

Choose the right combination

ALPEGO combined seed drills offer state-of-the-art solutions thanks to many years’ experience in soil tillage and seeding. Designed for tough, professional conditions, they guarantee unbeatable reliability and versatility.

Alpego hoppers are designed to work in tough, professional conditions and guarantee unbeatable reliability. Thanks to many years’ experience in soil tillage and seeding, we can offer you a variety of combinations with fixed and folding power harrows and disc harrows to find the right choice for your needs.

For use with higher volumes, each hopper can be combined with the MICRO-JET additional microgranulator, suitable for granular products or small seeds. This unit provides forced injection of the product directly onto the metering unit, while distribution is all-electric thanks to ISOBUS control. With its capacity of 120 l, MICRO-JET is able to distribute 2 products in the ASPRO and 3 products in the ASMAX simultaneously.

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