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
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
Carl Casale of CHS
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
Latest News
HerbicidesNew EPA Glyphosate Restrictions Leaked To Reuters
April 1, 2015
U.S. regulators will put new restrictions on the world’s most widely used herbicide to help address the rapid expansion of Read More
FMC 3Rive 3D
Seed/BiotechFMC’s 3RIVE 3D Turns Heads
April 1, 2015
As winter trade shows tend to go, Commodity Classic tends to be a pretty big deal. You’ve got all the Read More
Nachurs Alpine Solutions, Liquid fertilizer, micronutrients, facility
MicronutrientsYara Launching YaraVita Procote Liquid Micronutrients
March 31, 2015
Yara North America, Inc. broadens its fertilizer coating offerings with the introduction of YaraVita Procote, oil-based micronutrient liquid suspensions that Read More
Industry NewsINCOTEC Board Member To Retire
March 31, 2015
JanWillem Breukink has decided to retire from his position on INCOTEC’s Board of Directors, effective April 1, 2015. This was Read More
MicronutrientsAgrium Deals Michigan Micronutrient Facility To Cameron…
March 31, 2015
Cameron Chemicals, Inc. has announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Agrium Inc. to purchase the Read More
Industry NewsH.J. Baker Creates, Fills New Pacific Northwest Sales P…
March 30, 2015
H.J. Baker announced today that Gary Bingham has joined the company’s Crop Performance Division to further deepen its sales portfolio Read More
Algal blooms
StewardshipStudy: Algae From Clogged Waterways Could Be Used As Bi…
March 30, 2015
Water-borne algal blooms from farm fertilizer runoff can destroy aquatic life and clog rivers and lakes, but scientists are reporting Read More
Young corn plants
Stewardship4R Nutrient Stewardship Summit Coming To DC
March 30, 2015
The annual 4R Nutrient Stewardship Summit will be held on May 12 in Washington DC. The summit will include a full Read More
FungicidesSyngenta Suing Willowood Over Azoxystrobin Fungicide
March 27, 2015
Syngenta announced today that it has sued agrochemical maker Willowood, LLC., for patent and copyright infringement, as well as unfair Read More
ManagementRetail Week: The Future Of Mycogen Seeds; The 4Rs At Na…
March 27, 2015
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Matt Hopkins discuss recent trips, including a look at the future of Mycogen Seeds at Dow Read More
Eric SfiligojMonsanto Hears The WHO
March 27, 2015
Another challenge to the safety of glyphosate, and the responses from supporters and opponents, calls to mind a classic Dr. Seuss story. Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Plant Food Expands Sales Team
March 27, 2015
Monty’s Plant Food Company, a leader in natural soil enhancement and  plant fertility products, has hired Andrew Bullock as a Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Louisiana Plant Poised For 2015 Production
March 26, 2015
As the 2015 planting season gets underway, growers across the country will need crop protection products to combat pests and Read More
Lake Erie Nutrient Stewardship
LegislationOhio Lawmakers Finalize Phosphorus Restrictions
March 25, 2015
State lawmakers on Wednesday finalized new rules designed to curb toxic algal blooms on Lake Erie, calling the regulations a major step forward in addressing the problem. Read More
Spreaders17 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2015
March 25, 2015
Manufacturers shoot for versatility and accuracy in this year's crop of fertilizer spreaders. Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Hires Mid-South Product Consultant
March 25, 2015
Monty's Plant Food Co. has hired Matt Woodring as a Product Consultant for portions of Central Kentucky and Tennessee.    Read More
StewardshipMapShots Integrates With DriftWatch
March 23, 2015
Growers and agricultural providers using AgStudio FARM and AgStudio PRO can now view vital information about specialty crops and apiaries through a recent integration with the DriftWatch Specialty Crop Site Registry from FieldWatch, Inc. Read More
Crop InputsWorld Health Organization Report Contradicts Scientific…
March 23, 2015
A new report from the World Health Organization has classified glyphosate with a “2A” rating as a probable carcinogen, a Read More