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GPS Applications in Agriculture

Gary T. Roberson Agricultural Machinery Systems

What is a Positioning System?

user to determine absolute or relative location of a feature on or above the earths surface. Position data is reported in georeferenced format.

A position information system enables the

Latitude-longitude State plane UTM

Position Information System Requirements

Provide position data with acceptable
degree of accuracy. Must be available on demand at any time. Must be available at any location. Must be able to interface with other equipment.

Types of Position Information Systems

Dead Reckoning Laser Systems Global Navigation Satellite System

Global Positioning System (GPS) - US GLONASS - Russia Galileo - Europe

Global Positioning System (GPS)

determine precise position data. Utilizes military satellites to determine positioning information.

Space and land based information system to

Position based on trilateration from know satelite locations. Most common type of system in agriculture.

Millions of GPS users worldwide.

Selecting GPS Components

Hand Held Backpack Vehicle Mounted Recreational Mapping Surveying

Selecting GPS Components

Real Time Vs. Post Processed

Do you need to know where you are right now? More channels means better selection of satellites. Method to improve position accuracy

Number of Channels

Differential Correction

Parts of a Complete System

Antennae Receiver Display Storage Interface

GPS Antenna
many shapes and sizes Basic function . . . receive the GPS Signal Position data is interpreted based on antenna location

Antennae come in

GPS Receivers
Many different types

GPS - uncorrected data needing post processed for atmospheric interferences Differential GPS - signal is corrected as data is acquired, requires an additional satellite or second receiver

Basic function . . . decode

the signal retrieved by the antenna

GPS Display and Storage

Records and reports

GPS data to the user

numerically graphically

Can be integrated with

the receiver or provided by handheld or laptop computer

Interfacing With Other Devices

Proprietary Protocol

Unique to Receiver Manufacturer Allows data exchange between many devices. NMEA 0183
ASCII code Consists of Data Sentences.

Standardized Protocol

Communicating with other devices

NMEA Protocol

Baud Rate, data bits, parity Message definitions

NMEA messages contain data for the connected device to record or interpret. Example

Geographic Latitude Longitude, latitude.xx, n/s,longitude.yy,e/w,time,status

Type of GPS receivers for Agriculture

Configuration GPS DGPS

Accuracy 10 meters
1 meter (within range) 2 to 5 meters 1 meter

Beacon WAAS Satellite Subscription

Dual Frequency GPS 2 to 4 inches 1 to 2 inches RTK GPS

GPS Applications


Point Guidance Swath Guidance Variable rate application Variable depth tillage Variable irrigation


Soil properties Chemical Application Chemical Prescriptions Tillage Maps Yield Mapping Pest Mapping Topographic Maps Planting Maps

What Are Acceptable Accuracy Requirements?

Variable fertilizer application

30 m
1m 10 m 1 m 10 cm 10 cm 5 cm

(Swath control)

Yield mapping Variable herbicide application Spray overlap control Row crop planting Seed bed formation

Point Guidance
Target point selected on map screen. Cursor location indicates present
position, target position highlighted. Cursor provides guidance to target.

Click to View Guidance Demo

Swath Guidance
Anchor points established to create
base line on map screen. Parallel lines generated at desired swath spacing.

Can be used for straight or contour swaths

Light bar or similar device used to

provide guidance along line. Automatic steering possible.

Swath Guidance Demo

Field Mapping
Position data (georeference data)
recorded at predetermined intervals. Other data recorded manually or automatically by monitor, computer, or data logger. Data displayed by geographic information system (GIS) in thematic map format.

Soil Sampling
Georeferenced soil samples can be
collected Sampling Methods

Grid sampling: intensive sampling of entire field Directed sampling: intensive sampling of particular target areas

Grid Sampling
Data collected for
each cell or point Multiple samples combined into each cell or point sample

Directed Sampling
Sampling zones
established based on knowledge of field GPS used to locate sample points. Areas of interest intensely sampled, others lightly sampled

Semi-Automatic Soil Sampler

Crop Maze

Field Boundary, Vollmer Farm, Bunn, NC

Crop Maze

Crop Maze
5 acre corn field Creative minds Sub meter DGPS Field computer Mapping software

450 foot tall wolf

Yield Maps
Record of spatial yield variability within
a field or farm. GPS data coupled with yield data to produce map.

Mechanically harvested Hand harvested

Useful tool for decision making.

Cotton Yield Map

Field Scouting
Fields can be scouted for a variety of
pests Pest populations recorded on maps Decision tools can be applied on a site specific basis

Weed Map

Variable Rate Control

Application rates designed for needs of
small sections of a field GPS determines position of equipment in the field Computer controls use GPS data and prescription files to adjust rate

Prescription Map

GPS hardware and software are
valuable management tools. Accuracy requirements should be dictated by task requirements. GPS hardware should be selected to be compatible with the complete system.