Your behavior appears to be a little unusual. Please verify that you are not a bot.


Keeping on Course through RTK Outages

January 25, 2023  - By
For farmers, every centimeter counts. ComNav’s AG360 Pro autosteering system controls pass-to-pass accuracy within 2.5 cm. (Photo: Daniel Balakov/E+/Getty Images)

For farmers, every centimeter counts. ComNav’s AG360 Pro autosteering system controls pass-to-pass accuracy within 2.5 cm. (Image: Daniel Balakov/E+/Getty Images)

Answers from Simon Peng, Director, Overseas Department, ComNav Technology Ltd.

 

How do you define precision agriculture?
Precision agriculture uses new technologies to obtain as much as possible the unique characteristics of a field and input the correct amount of resources at just the right time. It is a system that needs to be implemented throughout the whole process of crop growth, including land preparation, tractor guidance, water management and weather monitoring. Tractors are used at every step, therefore it is critical to make them work consistently throughout the whole process, by using GNSS. ComNav Technology’s autosteering systems can be installed on most types of tractors. This allows farmers to grow the crops in a more autonomous and efficient pattern, which they can then save with high precision and reuse for later steps until harvest, increasing the utilization rate of land and decreasing the use of fuel, water, fertilizer and herbicides.

What have been the key turning points in the development of precision agriculture?
We have been in this sector since 2013. Our current solution is much easier to install and maintain and has higher accuracy and stability. The younger generation of farmers are more receptive to autonomous driving. They would like to try new things and set themselves “free” with technology.

What are the specific requirements and challenges of precision agriculture for GNSS, and how do they differ from those of other kinds of mapping and machine control?
The main challenges for autosteering systems include signal loss and terrain compensation. Most rural areas lack GSM coverages; therefore, in many countries using autosteering requires base stations. However, radio data links between stations far apart could be affected by obstacles, causing frequent correction outages. To compensate for this, ComNav has embedded in its GNSS module its “RTK-Keep” algorithm, which can maintain a relatively high-precision performance for autosteering during corrections outages. The system also must include various terrain compensation algorithms that identify a field’s elevation contours and provide smooth and continuous guidance even in complex terrains.

When did ComNav begin to focus on precision agriculture and why?
In 2013, we introduced our first high precision GNSS board. Initially, our main role was to provide it to integrators with expertise in precision agriculture. Over the years, the market began to boom in China and in 2016 we announced our first generation autosteering system for tractors. The main reason for us to focus on precision agriculture is the increasing demand from the market, which we believe will continue to grow in the foreseeable future due to the increasing demand for food from Earth’s growing population.

What are your relevant products/product lines?
In the past, workers in China drew lines on the land and then planted potatoes roughly along those lines, which was challenging and time consuming. It was hard for the farm owner to hire an experienced driver and guarantee the effectiveness of seeding. Now, however, ComNav Technology’s AG360 Pro autosteering system solves that problem by guiding vehicles according to set routines, including straight lines, curves, automatic turns and headline turns. Importantly, the pass-to-pass accuracy can be controlled to within 2.5 cm. The worker can finish multiple processes within only 24 hours, such as ridging, ditching, sowing, fertilizing and laying drip irrigation under mulch. Furthermore, compared to traditional manual planting, mechanized planting produces a more even sowing rate, which also establishes the foundation for the automated harvesting of potatoes. Potato production has increased by 10% per acre, land use has been reduced by more than 20%, and labor costs have been reduced significantly.

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 mluccio@northcoastmedia.net or 541-543-0525.