GPS Designed by Farmers

Kelly Marshall

RTK display on Trimble_FieldIQ

photo credit RTK Farming

What happens when farmers design a GPS system?  You get an accurate system that also improves input accuracy and minimizes impact on the soil.  That’s what  “Real Time Kinematics” from Argi-Tech East offers, thanks to the work of growers like Robert Salmon of the U.K. who helped create a program that can guide farm machinery along controlled traffic systems.

Robert explains: “We have been using RTK (Real Time Kinematics) guidance technology, the first step towards controlled traffic systems, for over ten years. By using RTK to constrain vehicles to permanent lanes, the plan is that eventually heavy machinery will drive over just 13 percent of the 4,800 acres of land that N E Salmon farms – significantly reducing damage to the soil.”

The new system is accurate to within a few centimeters, thanks to a local positioning base station that corrects the GPS signal.  A radio transmits the signal to the auto steer system and triangulates between the satellite, base station, and tractor, providing greater accuracy.

Now, thanks to this accuracy, Robert’s family farm will be transitioning to a controlled traffic system that will take all equipment on the same permanent lanes.  He is already creating a baseline for future comparison of how this technology affects properties of the soil in the future.

“I have believed for a very long time that much of the effort put into cultivation is putting right the damage you have done yourself as a farmer, especially by being on the land when it’s too wet or freshly moved,” says Robert. “By being more sensible in the way you travel across the field you are cultivating only for the benefit of the seed or crop which costs less money, fewer man hours and less fuel to achieve the same goal.”

N E Salmon Ltd will provide an opportunity for growers to get up close and personal with the technology at the Agri-Tech East’s May Pollinator event.