An agreement between Case IH and Ordnance Survey (OS), the UK Government agency responsible for the official and definitive topographic survey and mapping of Great Britain, is giving users of the farm equipment maker’s Advanced Farming System (AFS) precision agriculture technology access to the UK’s widest network of reference stations, in a move designed to eliminate correction signal loss, the key issue for those with farming operations dependent on RTK-based repeatable 2.5cm accuracy guidance.
With precision at this level not only important in maximising efficiency by minimising overlaps and misses, but also a crucial part of the soil-protecting, fuel saving concept of reduced or controlled traffic farming, losing RTK signal from being too distant from a base station or in an area of poor radio signal strength can delay or disrupt work progress. This agreement aims to eliminate this issue.
Through its agreement with OS Case IH is now offering the benefit of AFS RTK+ correction signals delivered in partnership with OS Net’s national network of global navigation satellite system (GNSS) reference stations, which is the most comprehensive in the UK, comprising 110 masts. This means seamless switching between reference stations takes place as the vehicle using the system moves between different base station coverage areas.
By working with signals supplied by GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System), the network brings together the positioning data supplied not only by GPS (Global Positioning System) satellites, but also by the Russian GLONASS satellite network and the developing Compass (China) and Galileo (Europe) satellite systems. “The result is a guidance system that provides optimum signal availability no matter what the topography, eliminating the inaccuracy, downtime and stress that can be caused by signal loss,” says Ross Macdonald, Case IH AFS specialist.
“Customers therefore benefit from the most advanced correction signal technology available, with a network that is the largest of its type in Europe, providing broader coverage than that available from other private names in the industry and bringing unrivalled accuracy and signal dependability benefits.
“There’s no need for the operator to manually switch across reference station as the system automatically does this. The Case IH AFS+ system uses a roaming SIM card, which ensures that it always looks for the best available GSM data signal.”
Many Case IH customers have been able enjoy the precision provided by RTK correction signals for some time, via base stations installed by dealers in the Case IH network, points out Mr Macdonald.
“However, the arrangement with OS provides Case IH customers with access to the single broadest and most comprehensive base station network in Great Britain, comprising 110 units in prime locations and backed by the UK Government’s own mapping agency. OS Ireland also has a network covering Northern Ireland and Eire, and we are working with them to extend our coverage here.”
Case IH’s UK agreement with OS forms part of the Europe-wide Case IH AFS RTK+ network launched early in 2015. This is compatible with the majority of guidance equipment available in today’s market, and opens up the network to also provide access to non-Case IH equipment users. AFS RTK+ is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is delivered via the GSM mobile phone network.
“As a result, it offers a repeatable accuracy solution that’s affordable not just for larger farm businesses, but also for smaller units, where the benefits of RTK repeatability are just as valuable,” says Mr Macdonald.
“No other farm machinery manufacturer is currently able to offer an in-house RTK signal correction service as comprehensive as this, with complete coverage across mainland Great Britain and full in-house support. “The result is that users benefit from a network that ensures strong signal availability at all times, enabling them to get the maximum value from their investment in precision farming technology by eliminating the accuracy and productivity problems associated with loss of correction signal.”
Annual user subscription for the OS-supported Case IH RTK+ signal costs £850 including SIM card.