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Southern States Real Time Kinematic (RTK) Technology


Precision agriculture's newest high-tech tool

As precision agriculture continues to grow and evolve at a rapid pace, new technology to help boost growers' success seems to come to light every day. One of these cutting-edge tools, Real Time Kinematic (RTK) satellite positioning, just may become the one of the greatest advancements yet to hit precision agriculture.

What is RTK?

RTK works by sending signals from a base station to farming machines out on the field, effectively controlling and steering the equipment. The local base station receives signals from satellites that it broadcasts to the machines, and at the same time, the machines communicate with satellites to provide data. The base station setup corrects for errors and allows for extremely accurate positioning.

RTK works in two ways: either through radios on the vehicles or through the Internet via cell phone modems. Radio RTK has a limitation of a 6-mile line-of-site radius, which can be hard to maneuver when factoring in hills, buildings and trees. Internet RTK provides service up to a 20-mile radius with no line-of-site restrictions, only the phone modem coverage which is the data plan coverage.

Advantages of RTK

RTK accuracy allows you to maximize investments in fertilizer, crop protection products and tillage, with increased farming profits because our system of base stations is engineered to provide continual accuracy of one inch pass-to-pass and static performance." says Dave Swain, Manager of Precision Ag Technologies at Southern States.

In contrast, under the Wide Area Augmentation Systems (WAAS) more commonly used today, the pass-to-pass accuracy of the signal is typically about 8 to 10 inches and the static accuracy is about 39 inches. With such a large gap, farmers risk running over plants or irrigation systems in the field, over/under applying products or missing valuable farm land altogether.

In addition, after a work stoppage, RTK has the ability to position the equipment in the exact same location it left off from, within an inch. "Farmers are able to save and re-use the same line without resetting it," Swain says.

In a related article, "Precision ag vital for increasing yields, meeting growing food demand" published in Southeast Farm Press dated July 22, 2014, Sandy Stewart, director of the Research Station Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, said precision agriculture tools such as Real Time Kinematic (RTK) satellite navigation better enable farmers to apply seed or crop protection protects at the right time, right place and appropriate level.

Southern States and RTK

"Southern States Cooperative has entered into a private base station network business even though there are public base station networks, known as CORS (Continually Operating Reference Stations). The reason for this business decision is due to our business focus on the agricultural industry and the support of our vendor, MyWayRTK, especially during peak hours of operation such as spring.

For more information on Southern States RTK Precision, please consult with your local Southern States Agronomy Professional.

Southern States is a Richmond, Virginia-based farm supply and service cooperative founded in 1923, which now has more than 200,000 farmer-members. As one of the nation's largest agricultural cooperatives, it provides a wide range of farm inputs, including fertilizer, seed, livestock feed, pet food, animal health supplies and petroleum products, as well as other items for the farm and home. The cooperative serves its members and non-member customers through 1,200 retail outlets in 23 states. Please visit our corporate information page for more information.

MyWay RTK LLC was established by a group of agriculture industry partners with a mission to engineer an open-technology RTK network for the specific guidance needs of growers using precision farming technologies in their operations.
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