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Auto-steering helps to plant corn, soybeans and rice

January 19, 2024  - By
CHCNav's NX510 SE GNSS RTK auto-steering system helps growers achieve the precision required for specialized planting operations. (Image: CHCNAV)

CHCNav’s NX510 SE GNSS RTK auto-steering system helps growers achieve the precision required for specialized planting operations. (Image: CHCNAV)

CHC Navigation’s NX510 SE GNSS RTK auto-steering system helps growers around the world achieve the precision required for specialized planting operations.

Intercropping. Growing two or more crops together in the same field, known as intercropping, is a sustainable and effective agricultural practice that is being adopted worldwide to increase yields. It is a bit counter-intuitive because it forces the different crops to compete for water, light, and nutrients. However, if the plants are carefully selected, their seeds are correctly spaced, and their growth is properly managed, it can be a recipe for success. For example, legumes, such as soybeans, which are good at nitrogen-fixing, can provide nitrogen to corn, thereby reducing the need for additional nitrogen fertilizer and the concomitant risk of chemical runoff. Mixing these two plant species also increases biodiversity and ecological stability. However, if the seeding is not planned carefully and executed precisely, the corn’s tall stalks will shade the soybeans’ short stems and reduce their yields.

Mr. Chen, a farmer and president of Agricultural Machinery in Anhui, China, co-crops corn and soybeans in the same field. To seed them precisely, he relies on CHCNAV’s NX510, which has a pass-to-pass accuracy of ±2.5 cm. Prior to using an automated steering system, his yields suffered because his seed rows were not straight. The system makes planting a simple task: the operator sets the row spacing for crops and the tractor automatically maintains it. Operators can also share those patterns among multiple farm machines, greatly increasing efficiency.

Growing rice. About half of the world’s population — especially in Asia, South America, and sub-Saharan Africa — relies on rice as its staple food. China is consistently ranked among the top 10 rice-producing countries due to its ability to cultivate it during two to three rice-growing seasons per year. Rice farmers around the world share challenges, including resource depletion due to soil degradation, urbanization, the effects of climate change, and a shrinking labor force, especially skilled labor.
Every rice planting season is a race against time and requires optimizing efficiency, including executing precise, straight-line planting operations to accurately align the new rice crop with previously established rows of seedlings. Any inaccuracy can sharply reduce rice yields. This is a key concern in China, which has only 0.02 hectares of rice land per capita. It is also vital to achieve sustainability and minimize environmental impact.

In a recent application, the NX510 has been successfully integrated into rice transplanters used to plant rice seedlings in swampy soils in China. It ensured that rice seedlings were planted at consistent depths and in the correct vertical and horizontal positions, promoting adequate ventilation and optimal light exposure for their subsequent growth.

NX510 SE. The NX510 SE utilizes five satellite constellations — GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou and QZSS — and multiple correction sources, including 4G RTK networks and UHF RTK stations. Its built-in 4G and UHF modem connects to all industry-standard DGPS and RTK corrections and its terrain compensation technology maintains high accuracy even in challenging environments and terrain. The receiver’s 10.1-inch industrial display, operating on the AgNav multilingual software, supports multiple guidelines patterns, including AB line, A+ line, circle line, irregular curve and headland turn, to handle all common farming operations.

The NX510 autosteering system delivers significant productivity gains at a cost accessible to nearly every farm, making it suitable for retrofitting old and new farm vehicles. An additional advantage of autosteering is that it enables growers to maintain the same high level of accuracy when operating at night, which is often required to escape the oppressive daytime heat or to meet tight schedules.

About the Author: Matteo Luccio

Matteo Luccio, GPS World’s Editor-in-Chief, possesses more than 20 years of experience as a writer and editor for GNSS and geospatial technology magazines. He began his career in the industry in 2000, serving as managing editor of GPS World and Galileo’s World, then as editor of Earth Observation Magazine and GIS Monitor. His technical articles have been published in more than 20 professional magazines, including Professional Surveyor Magazine, Apogeo Spatial and xyHt. Luccio holds a master’s degree in political science from MIT. He can be reached at or 541-543-0525.