Smart “Ears” To The Sky

Phoenix 250 Raven Receiver

Receiver and satellite technologies continued to show gains this past year. The buzz this season has been to purchase units that can access not only the robust U.S. GPS but also Russia’s GLONASS system. “All new receivers from the major players are now being manufactured GLONASS-capable and are future-proofing for Galileo (Europe’s satellite system),” says Trevor Mecham, Leica’s North American business manager, ag. Leica believes in the GLONASS boost so much that any mojoRTK user can demo GLONASS satellite activation before they buy it, to see if it improves their performance along tree lines and during poor satellite availability, says Mecham.

Topcon Positioning System has been working with multiple satellite constellations since 2000, says Mike Gomes, OEM accounts manager. He says the current GLONASS system stands at 16 satellites, with another six slated for launch in 2008. “In a GPS plus GLONASS system, typically users can have between seven and 16 satellites available, even if you go behind a mountain or into a canyon or behind a stand of trees. You can keep going when GPS-only can’t,” he explains.

Small But Mighty

There’s also a move afoot to provide more low cost choices, including units that combine receivers and antennas in one unit, dubbed “smart antennas.” Ag Leader introduced its GPS 1500 high-accuracy receiver/antenna late last year. “Our goal was to provide a GPS receiver with the accuracy needed for maximum performance using AutoSwath while keeping it affordable for our customers,” says Matt Leinen, GPS and guidance product manager. He says the GPS 1500 offers a fast update rate and sub-meter accuracy.

Newest in Raven Industries’ product line are the Phoenix 50 and Phoenix 250. “The ruggedized Phoenix 50 is your entry level WAAS receiver for applications like yield monitors and crop scouting,” says Darrell McCauley, operations manager. The 250 has the features of the Phoenix 200 plus adds the ability to receive OmniSTAR-VBS corrections.

Hemisphere GPS has the A100 Smart Antenna, calling it an affordable all-in-one DGPS receiver solution that offers fast start-up and reacquisition times and 60-cm accuracy.

The AgGPS 106 is Trimble’s all-weather, low cost DGPS smart antenna for yield or field mapping. The company also offers a range of stand-alone receivers (such as the AgGPS 442, 432, and 332) that can be coupled with antenna options to provide a variety of correction and accuracy levels.

There’s some debate about which is better: external, stand-alone receivers or receivers built into display boards. Dr. Mike O’Connor, CTO of Novariant-AutoFarm, says customers and dealers prefer a simple connection between the GPS equipment on the roof and the display hardware in the cab. “This generally requires a stand-alone receiver system on the roof of the vehicle, so that a standard wire cable bundle can be run into the cab, rather than a coaxial cable,” he describes.

But other manufacturers would disagree. Leica’s Mecham believes the only advantage external units have had over the last 10 years is upgradeability. “With the new boards moving to firmware-upgradeable versions, this advantage is basically lost,” he says. “Built-in receivers reduce manufacturing costs and reduce field breakdowns due to cable and connector failures.”

Multiple antenna set-ups are gaining favor in the industry since they provide very precise positioning as well as heading and terrain compensation measurements, says O’Connor. “This allows vehicles to start automatically steering from a dead stop and to operate at very low speeds.”

No matter the guidance set-up, Jim Shone, sales director at TeeJet Technologies, says users don’t need to be confused trying to put together pieces-parts like receivers and antenna. The company’s entry-level guidance product CenterLine 220 is an answer, and inside the compact lightbar is a high-quality WAAS GPS receiver. “We’re trying to make a very simple interface where customers don’t have to configure a lot of the settings prior to the operation of our products,” he says. “They can just plug and play.”

Correction Solutions News

Consumers there are. John Pointon, director of sales and marketing with OmniSTAR, said subscription sales at the company broke all previous records by April 2007 – and broke them again for April 2008.

RTK is also hot. “The biggest advancement in satellites and signals is the proliferation of RTK base stations,” says O’Connor. “In many areas it is now possible to purchase a system that is capable of sub-inch RTK steering performance without purchasing and installing your own base station.”

Indeed, DOT-sponsored RTK CORS (Continuously Operating Reference Stations) technology is soon becoming available for dealers and growers — and it’s “the next big thing,” says Mecham. The RTK signal from DOTs is mostly available free for public use, he explains. The Iowa CORS network, offering dual frequency receivers, comes online in late 2008, and Leica will be providing CORS support to enable farmers and dealers to connect to these rapidly expanding state networks.

One of the leading improvements that John Bohlke, director of product marketing with Hemisphere GPS, sees is with the company’s single frequency RTK. In a patented technique, the firm uses SBAS (WAAS, EGNOS, etc.) satellites for ranging in order to improve its RTK solution in the Outback product line. “And just the quality of the Crescent GPS receiver makes it a very affordable way to get centimeter level accuracy,” he says. In fact, the Crescent is featured in the new Outback S3, released in 2008.

John Deere Engineer Curtis Hay finds RTK growth — both in network expansion and individual use – is still quite strong, and “StarFire 2 sales are quite good. It points to a growing want and need for centimeter-level accuracy, which would make applications such as strip till or drip tape quite reasonable,” he says.

Leave a Reply

Precision Ag Stories
Precision AgGoogle Glass: New Tool For Ag
October 8, 2014
New wearable smart technologies such as Google Glass show potential to greatly impact how we accomplish the business of feeding the world. Read More
Precision AgPrecision Agriculture: Finding The Payback
September 6, 2014
Profitability in precision ag is not about any one technology, but the result of employing technology in a total system approach that is agronomically sound. Read More
Precision AgUAS: The S Stands For Smart, Service And Sensors
May 1, 2014
The only thing occuring more rapidly than the technologies’ evolution is the clamoring to implement UAS into agriculture as soon as possible. Read More
Precision AgAg Retail: 3 Tech Trends To Watch In 2014
April 1, 2014
It's been a busy first quarter of technology developments in 2014. Here are some of the highlights, and things to watch in the months ahead. Read More
Top 100 Articles
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Latest News
Agworld Apple Watch Farm Management
EquipmentAussie Data Management Software Company Making Its Mark…
July 4, 2015
Zach Sheely, vice president of sales and operations, says that several large, well-known U.S. cooperatives (Stanislaus Farm Supply, Wilco-Winfield and Read More
Topcon AGI-4 on MF Planter
EquipmentAutosteer: Compatibility, Accuracy Remain Top Of Mind
July 3, 2015
The world of automatic steering solutions in agriculture has evolved rapidly in the last few years. From after-market add-ons that Read More
ManagementUnited Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes Merger & Crop Update
July 2, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the reasons behind the United Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes merger and USDA’s recent Read More
Industry NewsBioSafe Adds To Sales Force
July 2, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the hire of two new members for its service team. David Britt recently joined the team Read More
Chesapeake Bay
ManagementChesapeake Bay Clean-Up Gets Renewed Attention
July 2, 2015
The Chesapeake Bay has been called one of the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world. It’s also one of Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
ManagementBulk Pesticide Compliance: Top 10 Areas Of Improvement …
July 1, 2015
  In honor of the 33-year run of David Letterman’s Late Show, the American Agronomic Stewardship Alliance (AASA) is happy Read More
Industry NewsArysta North America Hires Midwest Sales Manager
July 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the hiring of Brian Battles as the Senior Technical Sales Manager for the Midwest Read More
Farmer on tablet
Eric SfiligojThe Never-Ending Battle Against Modern Agriculture
July 1, 2015
In the world of comic books, the character of Superman often refers to the fight to save the world as Read More
Retail FacilitiesBuilding Up Ag Retail
July 1, 2015
In the oftentimes unpredictable world we live in, it’s nice to know some things can be reliably countered on to Read More
Retail FacilitiesMaple River Grain And Agronomy Phases In Site Developme…
July 1, 2015
Marcus Construction helped Maple River Grain and Agronomy in Casselton, ND, with the design-build of its dry fertilizer, liquid chemical/seed Read More
Retail FacilitiesA&B Welding Builds A New Liquid Terminal Hub For Br…
July 1, 2015
To build its new hub facility, Briggs Crop Nutrients enlisted the help of A&B Welding. The result, an efficient facility Read More
Edon Farmers Co-op
Retail FacilitiesNew Marcus Facility At Edon Farmers Co-op Provides More…
July 1, 2015
Edon Farmers Co-Op in Edon, OH, needed a new facility to consolidate outdated locations. Marcus Construction was able to design Read More
Retail FacilitiesKinder Morgan Expands Its Storage With A New Dome Barre…
July 1, 2015
Kinder Morgan wanted additional covered storage at its Dakota Bulk Terminal on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN. With Read More
Retail FacilitiesHeartland Tank Protects Fertilizer From Extreme Cold At…
July 1, 2015
The Arthur Companies in Harvey, ND, enlisted the help of Heartland Tank Companies to develop a new liquid fertilizer facility Read More
The McGregor Co. fertilizer loadout
Retail FacilitiesThe McGregor Co. Partners With Kahler Automation To Cre…
June 30, 2015
Kahler Automation helped The McGregor Co. expand its Clarkston, WA, operation with unstaffed loadout technology that enables customers to pick Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Helps CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative Build…
June 30, 2015
CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative in Mooreton, ND, wanted a liquid/dry blender system that could meet the needs of its customers Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes, United Suppliers To Merge Crop Inpu…
June 29, 2015
Land O’Lakes, Inc. and United Suppliers, Inc. of Ames, IA, today announced their intent to merge their crop inputs businesses. Read More
FungicidesHelena To Distribute Unique Summit Agro Fungicide
June 29, 2015
RANMAN 400 SC fungicide, the only fungicide with a FRAC group 21 designation, is now part of the innovative Summit Read More