Precision Agriculture: How Reach Receivers Can Help Your Farm

Precision is a key to efficient and balanced farming. Clever use of GNSS receivers can significantly cut costs, ease the workflow, and improve the results. Reach GNSS receivers help our users in various ways, starting from GCP placement for drone surveys to the complex integration with agriculture equipment. With the recent Reach Firmware 26 update, users benefit from multiple NMEA sentences and extended integration opportunities. Read this article to check out what Reach can be used for when it comes to prosperous and optimized farming.

Drone Mapping for Agriculture

With a planned mission, the drone gathers accurate photos of the field with georeferencing tags. Afterward, the farmer obtains a complete picture of the site with the planting lines, drainage lines, and other valuable information for further analysis.


A drone equipped with Reach on the mapping mission

A typical workflow includes a drone with a camera and a GNSS module on board. Another GNSS receiver acts as a base for sending the corrections in RTK mode or record logs for further PPK. Please check our PPK mapping guide and recent video guide featuring RTK drone by DJI for more information about PPK and RTK techniques for drone mapping.

Also, experienced drone pilots recommend setting up ground control points and checkpoints on a site. They are necessary for stitching the pictures into a map more accurately. To learn more about drone mapping, check out our page about GCPs.

One of our users in Brazil, Antonio Arns, provides his company’s customers with a complete crop monitoring plan. In the ArnsTronic case, the Reach receiver became the base for the drone. Also, the drone was equipped with the Reach module, which you now know as the improved and upgraded Reach M+/M2. The drone created a map with a precision of 4 cm and saved the company a considerable sum in fuel, labor, and maintenance costs.


The map of planting lines


Irrigation and Drainage analysis of the processed orthomap

Antonio says that with Reach equipment and a drone, he covered 150 ha in an hour. In comparison, Antonio can cover only 10 ha at the same time with a tractor. Using Reach for drone mapping a field takes less time. Read about the ArnsTronic case.

Machinery Guidance

GPS guidance for heavy machinery becomes a decisive advantage for accurate spraying, fertilizing, or planting. GNSS receivers paired with a guiding app allow the machine to follow the precise route you plan for your goals. The centimeter-accurate positioning reduces overlaps and missed zones.

GPS guidance

To obtain the centimeter precision for your agricultural machine, you can use one Reach receiver mounted on the tractor and get all your corrections from the local RTK service. However, it can be costly, at around $1650 per year for subcentimeter accuracy.


Reach RS mounted on a tractor

Instead, you can use two Reach receivers: one mounted on a tractor and the other acting as a base. That’s how our user Joseph solved the issue with a costly agricultural RTK subscription service. Building your bundle out of the Reach base and rover for corrections can save you thousands of dollars and still provide centimeter-precision results. Read about Joseph’s case.

Auto-steering

Automated steering is also a part of machinery guidance. Visual guidance and plotting the route help reduce fertilizers’ usage and avoid overlapping of already treated land. Besides, auto-steering leaves the farmers’ hands-free during the fieldwork.


Reach RS+ mounted on the Ferguson tractor. Photo by Pierre Sartena

With a bundle of an RTK receiver and particular software like Cerea GPS, the machinery doesn’t need a farmer to steer. The Reach receiver sends the accurate tractor’s position to the Cerea app, and the app is then responsible for auto-steering.


Tractor’s path output from Cerea to QGIS by Andreas Ortner

Andreas Ortner used the Reach RTK kit on a farm in Austria and managed to work 50 ha of land with an auto-steering tractor. Using the visual guidance saved up to 20% on fuel and fertilizers, and the auto-steering helped do the work in less time. Read about Andreas’s case.

Autonomous Navigation

Autonomous navigation means that machinery can plan its path and follow the route without a human being in charge. The only thing a human needs to do is to design the initial route and provide all kinds of corrections technique-wise.

Improving the efficiency of sowing, treating the fields, and harvesting results in increased crops and reduced costs. The human factor is cut down to a minimum, and therefore, provided the machinery is appropriately equipped, the general performance is better.


The Digital Farmhand robot collecting data for crop analysis

A group of engineers from the University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) created an agricultural robot. It is aimed at helping countries like Samoa or Fiji to digitize and power up their farming. With the robot by their side, smallholder farmers fulfill their need for a higher turnover of crops and eliminate the human factor.

The key idea for this robot is not just to be efficient but also to be reasonably priced. Using Reach RS+ for high accuracy navigation provides excellent performance and reduces the prime cost of the robot. Read about the Digital Farmhand Robot.

Land Leveling

Land leveling is used to prepare the field for sowing and changing the drainage pattern. In any case, the whole idea of it is to make the area flat and even. With GNSS coming to help agriculture, farmers can now work on water distribution and a higher crop yield.


Reach RS+ on top of the leveling tractor-scraper

Our user @davehofer1993 combined Reach RS2 as a base and Reach RS+ on a vibration-damping platform mounted on the machine. The base sends dynamic corrections to the rover, controlling the tractor’s vertical position. With the help of Fieldgenius as a grade indicator, he managed to reach a centimeter-precise vertical accuracy.

Using Reach receivers for land leveling proved its efficiency and also appeared to save on the budget. David says this whole setup cost him $15,000, which is many times cheaper than other equipment with the same level of accuracy. Read about David’s case.

Landscape Architecture

Every tree has its place. This is the motto of the Allesbeste avocado orchard. You can use Reach receivers for staking out the points for each tree to make sure all of them get equal amounts of sun, water, and attention from the farmers. After the whole area is mapped, Reach RS duplicates the roads and terrace rows of the trees designed in GIS software.


The map of the future orchard lines

This is an excellent example of conscious and thorough planning of future crops. The team took all the area’s peculiarities into account and created a precisely calculated orchard. Reach RS helped locate every tree at the same distance from each other and followed the particular plan.


Points staked out with Reach RS+

When the orchard is built carefully, the farmers can predict possible land issues and eliminate them. Also, it allows the estimation of crop yields more precisely. Read about the Allesbeste case.

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