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 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
Valley Variable Rate Irrigation
Precision AgMaximizing Returns From Water Inputs
March 3, 2014
Irrigation manufacturers have developed some vital new technologies to fine-tune irrigation and save growers money, water, energy and labor. Read More

Trending Articles

Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
Many new products were introduced to the ag retail marketplace this year. From this group, CropLife IRON and its consulting partners have selected five finalists for the Product of the Year award. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More

Latest News

FertilizerFertilizer Outlook And Technology Conference Set For No…
September 30, 2014
Conference participants can expect to gain perspective on the outlook for agriculture and major fertilizer materials and inputs from industry experts. Read More
MicronutrientsVerdesian Acquires Micronutrient Supplier
September 30, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences has acquired QC Corp., a producer and supplier of granular and dry micronutrients and ferrous sulfate products. Read More
Eric SfiligojHearing From Young Ag Voices
September 30, 2014
Potential future leaders in ag retail had the chance to shine at the recent Mid America CropLife Association meeting. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
September 30, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Appoints New Chief Operating Officer
September 29, 2014
Jon Parr will succeed retiring COO John Atkin at the end of the year. Read More
CropLife 100South Dakota Wheat Growers To Add Grain-Agronomy Facili…
September 26, 2014
Planned to be constructed in Kennebec, the facility will be located along the soon-to-be rehabilitated line of heavy-rail service from Chamberlain to Presho. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Announces Vice President Appointments
September 25, 2014
Two individuals have been appointed Vice President positions on the GROWMARK executive team. Read More
FertilizerFertilizer Industry Organizations Join Global Alliance …
September 25, 2014
The Fertilizer Institute, the International Plant Nutrition Institute and the International Fertilizer Industry Association are encouraging the industry to promote the proper use of fertilizer products to minimize their environmental impact. Read More
Precision AgARA Organized Precision Forum Hits Capitol Hill
September 24, 2014
The Coalition for the Advancement of Precision Agriculture (CAPA) hosted its inaugural Precision Ag Forum, Sept. 18, in Washington, D.C. Read More
FertilizerFactors To Consider When Placing Fertilizer With Seed
September 24, 2014
The type of crop, fertilizer source, row spacing and soil environment all affect how much fertilizer can be safely applied with seed. Read More
FertilizerSidedressing Manure Into Corn Has Promising Results
September 24, 2014
Applying manure to growing crops can boost yields, reduce nutrient losses and give livestock producers another window of time to apply manure to farm fields. Read More
FertilizerWhen To Sample Manure For Analysis
September 24, 2014
Because the goal is to collect a sample that represents the manure actually being applied, the best time to sample is during loading or field application. Here's why. Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Faces Second Lawsuit Over Agrisure Viptera Cor…
September 23, 2014
A second company has sued Syngenta AG over sales of genetically modified corn seed not approved by China. Read More
StewardshipCover Crops Field Guide For Farmers Expanded
September 23, 2014
Farmers interested in planting cover crops to improve soil health now have an updated and expanded resource in the second edition of the Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide. Read More
HerbicidesArysta LifeScience Launches Contest For Wheat Growers
September 23, 2014
The Flush after Flush Photo Finish contest encourages farmers across the U.S. to participate through Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #FlushAfterFlush. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Confirms Merger Of Equals Discussions Wit…
September 23, 2014
CF Industries Holdings, Inc. has confirmed that it is in preliminary discussions with Yara International regarding a potential merger of equals transaction. Read More
StewardshipProgram To Examine Ag-Related Practices, Policies To Pr…
September 22, 2014
A panel discussion on October 14 will include a significant discussion on key issues and solutions related to all aspects of harmful algal blooms. Read More
Eric SfiligojIt’s Product Of The Year Voting Season
September 22, 2014
Readers of CropLife IRON will choose 2014’s best new product over the next month. Read More