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5 Jul 2021

How the OS Net location services optimise precision farming

Ordnance Survey’s OS Net® network provides access to a stable, national coordinate reference system in Great Britain, and enables fast, accurate real-time positioning services. The data is handled and repackaged by our community of commercial partners, to then benefit organisations across the spectrum of markets and industries, such as agriculture.

Because OS Net enables the use of precise national coordinates, businesses in agriculture and farming are already maximising the use of OS Net data to enhance their efficiencies.

Tony Falgate is a contractor from East Lothian, Scotland. Based on the outskirts of Edinburgh, Tony works for clients spread across the Lothians down into the Scottish Borders and from time to time into Northumberland.

Tony needed an auto guidance system with demonstrable in-built reliability and repeatability that could help co-ordinate his fleet of New Holland tractors. His requirements included steering to within 2.5cm (one inch) accuracy.

New Holland uses OS Net for its GNSS error modelling, and provision of a network RTK solution for its customers. Working with New Holland, a part of CNH Industrial, Tony could integrate a PLM® Connect system which enables Real-time Kinematic (RTK) positioning.

The PLM Connect auto guidance has proven to be especially useful for mowing, and harvesting potatoes. Both jobs demand pin-point precision, and with OS Net, Tony had access to a very reliable system with no loss of signal.

“Even a year later I can go back to a field and the tractor will steer itself down exactly the same line. There is no longer the satellite creep problem of old.”

Real-time positioning and quick benefits

The deal between New Holland and Ordnance Survey made this level of accuracy and repeatability possible. It has made Tony much more efficient, able to harvest potatoes with less damage and less waste, with similarly excellent results with harvesting crops for cereals.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 70% of the combine harvesters sold by New Holland are now fitted with similar auto guidance systems.

Key benefits

RTK is crucial for many precision farming applications that give the customers:

- Simplicity through reduced or optimised inputs

- More data for easier decision making

- Less operator fatigue, leading to higher productivity, increased yields, and harvest quality

These key benefits also help reduce overall costs of the overall production, by increasing efficiency, and reducing fatigue and wastage.

The OS Net story

For more information such as involved partners and the product's history, read An introduction to OS Net.