Peak Precision: How GPS Can Help Your Agribusiness


From searching the nearby location of hardware stores on your smartphone to the map app your Uber driver uses, the Global Positioning System (GPS) acts as your modern guide to reach your destination. While GPS is mainly used in transportation, it also helps other industries like agriculture. If you’re not using GPS for your daily routine yet, you may be missing out on the benefits of precision agriculture.

A Primer on GPS

Before we discuss precision farming and its benefits, you should have a basic understanding of how GPS works first. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), GPS has three components: the receiver, the satellites, and the ground stations. When you activate your receiver, it tries to find satellites to connect to.

Once it identifies three or four units, the receiver calculates how far each satellite is to come up with an exact location where you currently are. The most resilient ones, used by the military and other government agencies are often tested using GPS simulation equipment. As for the ground stations, they just make sure that these satellites are correctly in a position to give you the right location information.

Precision Farming and Its Benefits

Precision farming harnesses location information from various GPS devices for different farming applications, which can be as simple as tilling and as complicated as yield mapping. These tools are built to be precise, easy to use, and efficient. Here are a few examples of such applications.

Yield Mapping and Monitoring

This is one of the oldest precision agriculture methods. It was used by farmers as early as the 1990s and is still an efficient tool today. According to the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, a yield monitoring and mapping device works by using a range of sensors that measure everything from grain moisture to the soil properties in an area. These points of information are then mapped out using GPS and stored to give the farmer a historical view of which parts of the field are doing well and which ones need special attention.

Guided Tilling, Seeding, and Nutrition

One of the biggest advances in precision agriculture is the emergence of guided tractors. A video report by the Voice of America News showed a Washington farmer using GPS-guided equipment to till and fertilize the soil. Thanks to the partnership that farming equipment giant John Deere and NASA developed in the ’90s, this method prevents productivity problems such as overlaps and missed areas.

John Deere had problems with inaccurate GPS readings that caused tractors to go off-course by around 30 feet. NASA stepped in to create a piece of software that connected the vehicles’ computers to the internet to get real-time location information.

This, combined with years of research and innovation, created a breed of guided tractors that move with razor-sharp precision. Now, farmers everywhere are reaping the benefits of stress-free tractor driving, only manually steering the vehicle to avoid obstacles like fences and animals.

GPS, along with other sensors, makes you farm smarter by mapping out and monitoring your yields. It also lessens your everyday load through vehicle automation. While these kinds of equipment are often pricey, they’re worthy investments if you want to give your clients quality crops that will keep them coming back.

Make Your GPS System More Resilient

Despite their ability to provide convenient and accurate location information, GPS systems can be disrupted easily. Here at CAST, we make sure your navigation systems are protected against attacks like jamming and spoofing. Our platforms provide repeatable and precise testing that make your navigation equipment resilient and more accurate.

Contact us today to keep your navigation systems calibrated.

June 4, 2019