Boosting EGNOS for better precision farming

July 31, 2018  - By

Precision agriculture depends on the precise positioning of augmented GNSS. In Europe, this augmentation is provided by the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS).

Although EGNOS is widely available in Europe, coverage is lacking in remote and rural areas.

To help fill the needs of farms in these areas, the Horizon 2020 AUDITOR project, funded by the European GNSS Agency (GSA), is developing a ground-based GNSS augmentation system that will deliver high-performance and cost-efficient services and applications for the agriculture industry.

“The purpose of this project is to develop an improved GNSS ground-based augmentation system using modern and proven algorithms in highly configurable, cost-effect receivers,” said Project Coordinator Esther Lopez. “As a result, AUDITOR will enable cost-effective precision agriculture services for farmers, especially those with small and mid-sized farms in areas where EGNOS availability is limited.”

The AUDITOR system is based on a radio frequency (RF) dual-band multi-constellation GNSS front-end and an embedded digital processing platform. The front-end receiver acquires the GNSS signals and embeds all analog and digital hardware required to convert the RF signal to digital samples.

The digital processing platform then converts and customizes the signals for the AUDITOR systems. The system serves as the basis for providing higher level services for the end user via cloud-based web and mobile applications.

Autonomous Future. With AUDITOR applications, farmers will be able to accurately measure spatial variability in soils and crops. Yield maps will allow farmers to precisely apply fertilizer, water and pesticides, reducing production costs and environmental impact.

AUDITOR’s high-accuracy positioning will also enable the use of autonomous mobile robotic units for identifying weeds, pests and diseases, GSA said.

“Producing precise maps of the soil and crops, as well as the spatially varying application of fertilizer that these maps enable, is completely dependent on the availability of an augmented GNSS signal,” Lopez said. “Thanks to AUDITOR, even areas in Eastern and Southern Europe that once were unable to get the required precise GNSS signal can reap the benefits of precision agriculture.”

With the ever-increasing requirement for augmented yield and profitability and energy and cost savings, the future of farming is precision agriculture. By focusing on providing the augmentation needed to enable existing precision agriculture applications in Europe alone, Lopez is confident that AUDITOR will be well-positioned to compete on the market.

This article is reprinted with permission of the European GNSS Agency (GSA).