GPS Cool Facts
• First GPS satellite was launched in 1978.• Current system is composed of second-generation GPS satel-lites, called Block II.• First Block II satellite was launched in 1989.• Defense Department declared GPS fully operational in 1995.• When the system was rst introduced, miscalculations (calledSA – Selective Availability) were programmed into GPS trans-missions to limit the accuracy of non-military GPS receivers.This operation was cancelled in May 2000.• There are 24 GPS satellites in orbit at this moment.• The 24 satellites cost an estimated $12 billion to build andlaunch.• Each satellite weighs about 1,735 pounds.• Satellites are orbiting about 12,500 miles above the Earth.• Satellites take 12 hours to orbit the Earth once.• The Russians have a system identical to the U.S. system calledGLONASS.
Produced by Communications and Marketing, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2009
Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion,age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University,and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Rick D. Rudd, Interim Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, VirginiaTech, Blacksburg; Alma C. Hobbs, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.
Precision Farming Tools:
Global Positioning System (GPS)
Robert (Bobby) Grisso, Extension Engineer, Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech Mark Alley, Professor, Crop & Soil Environmental Sciences, Virginia TechConrad Heatwole, associate professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech
Modern agricultural managementpractices are changing from assuming homogenouselds to attempting to address eld variability by divid-ing the eld into smaller zones and managing thesezones separately. Precision farming can be dened asthe gathering of information dealing with spatial andtemporal variation within a eld and then using thatinformation to manage inputs and practices (
PrecisionFarming: A Comprehensive Approach
, Virginia Coop-erative Extension (VCE) publication 442-500). Preci-sion farming is made possible by linking computers,on-the-go sensors, Global Positioning Systems (GPS),and other devices. This publication discusses GPS prin-ciples and the technology that makes it possible.
Global PositioningSystem (GPS).
GPS iswidely available in theagricultural communityand its potential is grow-ing. Farm uses includemapping yields (GPS+ combine yield moni-tor), variable rate plant-ing (GPS + variable-rateplanter drive), variablerate lime and fertilizerapplication (GPS +variable-rate spreaderdrive), variable rate pes-ticide application (GPS+ variable-rate applica-tor), eld mapping forrecords and insurancepurposes (GPS + map-ping software) and par-allel swathing (GPS +
navigation tool). Terms associatedwith GPS are listed in the Glossary.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) GPS is anavigational system made up of 24 satellites. GPS usessatellites and computers to determine positions any-where on Earth 24 hours a day. The orbital patterns andspacing of the GPS satellites (their constellation) pro-vide nine to 12 satellites above the horizon at any pointon the Earth. This allows every point of the Earth’s sur-face to have a unique address.
There are essentially three parts that make up GPS: thespace segment, usersegment, and controlsegment. The spacesegment is based onthe constellation of 24active and 3 spare satel-lites orbiting the Earth.The control segment isa system of ve moni-toring stations locatedaround the world, withthe master controlfacility located at Fal-con Air Force Base inColorado. The user seg-ment, which is the fast-est growing segment, ismade up of GPS receiv-ers and the user com-munity. GPS receiversconvert the satellites’