Positioning Services Enable Much More than Machine Guidance

January 25, 2023  - By

With the aid of Trimble’s correction services, the in-cab GFX-1260 display connects farmers to a wealth of knowledge about their fields and crops. (Photo: Trimble)

Answers from Maximilian Hiltmair, Strategic Marketing Manager, Trimble Positioning Services


How do you define precision agriculture?
Precision agriculture is the use of technology in farming to increase yields through data and precision. Precision ag helps farmers improve yields by collecting data on all aspects of each plant to figure out exactly what it needs, when it needs it and how it will best survive. From planting, growing and cultivating to spreading, spraying and harvesting, precision agriculture allows farmers to monitor, measure and utilize data from beginning to end.

What have been the key turning points in the development of precision agriculture?
Accurate positioning is the enabler for all precision agriculture. RTK was one of the biggest initial developments within positioning as it allowed farmers a higher level of accuracy than had been seen previously. Precise Point Positioning (PPP) was the next big development. Our version of PPP, Trimble RTX, allows farmers the best of both worlds — RTK-level accuracy delivered via satellite, eliminating the need for base stations or sometimes unreliable radio, cell or internet signals. Though precision agriculture started with guidance, it has now made its way to implement-level, variable rate seeding and spraying and section control. ISOBUS has also been a big development in the past few years — allowing machines of all types to interact and communicate with each other, regardless of type, color and shape.

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 challenge in GNSS is providing customers with the greatest availability in the field. While most fields are under open sky, obstacles such as trees and gullies make it more challenging. At Trimble, we provide market-leading pass-to-pass value with limited overlap for the customers at different price points. With our latest and most premium correction service, CenterPoint RTX, ease of use is also a key benefit.

When did Trimble begin to focus on precision agriculture?
Trimble unveiled its first agriculture receivers in 1999, signaling the start of the Trimble Agriculture division. In 2000, AgGPS Autopilot and automated steering systems were released for row crop application, further cementing Trimble’s presence in the precision agriculture community.

What are your relevant products/product lines?
Trimble offers technology integration that allows farmers to collect, share, and manage information across their farms, while providing improved operating efficiencies in the agricultural value chain. Trimble solutions include both hardware and software for guidance and steering, flow and application control, water management, harvest solutions, desktop and cloud-based data management, and correction services. Trimble’s CenterPoint RTX satellite-based correction service delivers GNSS positions repeatable to less than an inch. Combined with Trimble’s ProPoint GNSS technology, this service provides greater positioning availability, even in challenging environments such as tree lines, gullies and along contours where much of farming takes place.

For applications where centimeter-level accuracy is not as high of a priority, such as broad acre applications, Trimble RangePoint RTX and ViewPoint RTX give additional correction service options. They hold equipment to 6-inch and 12-inch pass-to-pass accuracy — or about the width of a tire between passing swaths. Trimble also offers Trimble VRS Now, giving farmers instant access to RTK positioning services using a network of permanent, continuously operating reference stations.

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.