Public Network of GPS Stations Benefit Ag

July 27, 2012 06:54 AM

For agriculture’s high-precision players, CORS provide big potential.

(Photo courtesy NOAA)

To the untrained eye, they look like unassuming concrete or metal pillars, often topped with something shaped vaguely like a flying saucer. But agriculture’s high-precision agriculture community knows them for what they really are – CORS.

CORS stands for "continuously operating reference stations." They function much like private precision ag RTK base stations, with one key difference – they are government-owned and available for anyone to use. (Most are free, some charge a subscription fee.)

"Private dealers can put up base stations that customers can subscribe to," explains Tyler Pasco, Raven Industries network operations specialist. "Or, they can connect through a CORS network. For example, the Iowa Department of Transportation has coverage that’s available across the entire state. In fact, many states have similar setups."

CORS network
This map from Raven shows the company’s U.S. RTK coverage. The dark green circles indicate private dealer RTK stations, and areas of yellow indicate public CORS network availability.

Precision ag customers can typically access either public or private networks, Pasco says. Raven differentiates itself in the market because customers can directly click through to various CORS networks from its website, he says. Another point of differentiation is the use of the company’s Slingshot Field Hub, which allows users to access RTK correction signals via a cellular signal rather than a 450 MHz or 900 MHz radio signal, which eliminates line-of-sight limitations associated with those systems.

"We took a little bit of flack for using cellular for RTK," says Josh Skanderup, Slingshot product manager. "There’s a little bit of a stigma in the market that RTK and cellular and farming don’t always mix because cellular coverage is not that great where farms are. We’ve gone through great lengths to dispel and mitigate that. We’re deployed around the world in places that a lot of people said we never could make it work."

Each precision ag company has its own particular set of pros and cons, but it’s clear that CORS has had a dramatically positive affect on all of them. Farmers benefit from the much bigger footprint where CORS provides access to high-precision data for more accurate planting, spraying, harvest and much more.


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