Satnav steered tractor

Smart farming

15 May 2013

Steer tractors with centimetre-accuracy to improve farming and the environment.

Navtronics, a Belgium ESA Business Incubation Centre start-up company, is tailoring intelligent guidance for agricultural machinery using advanced satnav.

Tractor guidance system

As any other industry, the agriculture sector is always looking for ways to raise productivity and reduce labour cost through new technologies. One is the use of high-end Real Time Kinematic (RTK) satellite navigation to steer and control tractors and implements.

RTK satnav increases the precision of position data derived from the Galileo, GPS and Glonass navigation satellite constellations. By using the ‘phase’ information of the signal’s carrier wave, rather than just the satnav signal content, and combining this with a reference station for realtime corrections, Navtronics’ systems can provide up to centimetre-level accuracy.

This accuracy far exceeds manual steering, resulting in better use of available land and higher productivity from human and machine.

Satnav to steer tractors

By ‘automating’ farm machinery, even unskilled drivers can achieve near-perfect results.

The precision also avoids the double spraying of pesticides or, through mechanical weeding on organic farms, even eliminates the need for pesticides altogether – clearly better for the environment.

The Navtronics BVBA development of hard- and software solutions for automated agricultural guidance systems is being done with the support of ESA Technology Transfer Programme’s Business Incubation Centre Flanders. The company is a spin-off from SBG Precision Farming in the Netherlands.

The ESA Technology Transfer Programme’s Business Incubation Centres foster new European business based on spinning off technologies and expertise developed by ESA and under European space programmes to be used in non-space industries and systems. Seven Business Incubation Centres have been set up throughout Europe, supporting more than 60 start-ups every year.

ESA Business Incubation Centres
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