Network RTK for consistent positioning

South Australian CORS network benefits farmers

HxGN SmartNet - Satellite Positioning Services for farmers

Expanding at a rapid rate and now covering a large majority (70-80%) of the state’s cropping region, the SmartNet Aus CORS network offers farmers 2cm positioning accuracy anywhere within a networked area for use in auto-steer applications.

Similar to the Victorian Government-run network, GPSnet, the SmartNet Aus network is used by multiple industries including surveying, construction and local councils. The use of such networks is widespread in other parts of the world such as the United States, where the Department of Transport is establishing Network RTK solutions across the country.

Unlike community-run networks where you still rely on the nearest base station for accuracy, with a true Network RTK solution like SmartNet Aus you don’t have to give base stations a second thought, because your accuracy is just as good whether you’re 5kms away or 50kms! This is because the bases are connected via a central internet server, which gives it built-in redundancy (i.e. if one base goes down, the network adjusts its model and continues to operate with the same 2cm survey-grade accuracy). It also eliminates line of sight issues and the need for costly radios to give more range from the base.

So impressed with the technology and the benefits it will bring to their customers, Pringles Ag Plus, a Leica Geosystems reseller based on the Eyre Peninsula, have invested in the CORS solution by adding four bases to the SmartNet Aus network.

“Pringles see the Continually Operating Reference Station (CORS) network as a new and exciting addition to its product line-up that will offer customers something they haven’t seen before,” says director Craig Walker. “We have established bases in Wudinna, Kimba, Cleve and Lock that will offer customers 2cm accuracy that doesn’t rely on privately owned bases or the need for direct line of sight towers.”

Customers can access the network using the Leica mojoRTK auto-steer system, which comes with a built-in NextG™ modem that enables it to connect directly to the SmartNet Aus network. However customers in poor NextG coverage shouldn’t be put off, as the amount of signal needed to run on the network is far less than what is needed to make and receive phone calls. Craig explains: “If you can receive a text message on your phone then it’s likely that you have access to the data frequency required to operate on the network.”

Mark and Tony Pym from Avon in the mid-North, farm 3,000 acres most of which is broadacre cropping. They have been using the SmartNet Aus network over the past 12 months with a Leica mojoRTK auto-steer system.

“We upgraded to the mojoRTK system for seeding last year and found we couldn’t fault the accuracy and the repeatability,” Mark says. “The simplicity of running on a CORS network is great, as the ability to be able to drive between paddocks or different properties without having to shift base stations certainly appealed to us. We did some contract seeding last year, working about 20kms from our property. We had no problems with fall outs or interference and found the network RTK passed with flying colours even in areas of low phone coverage.”

Mark says one of the deciding factors was the affordability. “You only pay for what you use on the network and we only require 2cm accuracy when seeding, harvesting and cutting hay. The dual frequency Glide feature, which provides 25cm accuracy, is adequate for our spraying and spreading work.”

The only hardware Mark and Tony needed to purchase in order to start auto-steering on the network was their Leica mojoRTK network-ready console, and a steering solution. “One of the best things with the mojoRTK is the capability to utilise existing equipment and how easily the console can be transferred between vehicles.”