CNH Industrial, a world leader in capital goods, held a press conference on Oct. 5 with Ordnance Survey (OS), the United Kingdom’s official mapping agency and one of the world’s foremost authorities on mapping and surveying.
The event, which was hosted at OS Head Office in Southampton, United Kingdom, introduced the partnership between the two organizations to business, agricultural trade and technology media. This was followed by a live demonstration of how their combined technologies work to provide the UK farming industry with precise GPS accuracy using an Optum tractor from CNH Industrial’s Case IH brand.
This strategic partnership sees the UK Government agency enhance farming efficiency by incorporating its OS Net signal technology, a network of over 110 base stations which cover all of Great Britain, into agricultural machinery from CNH Industrial’s Case IH and New Holland Agriculture brands. As such, CNH Industrial is the only agricultural machinery manufacturer to offer coverage this comprehensive on a national scale, giving its brands a unique competitive advantage in the United Kingdom.
How it works: OS Net and RTK
OS Net enables CNH Industrial data servers to supply Real Time Kinematic (RTK) positioning information, which is integrated into Case IH and New Holland equipment. RTK is the most attractive and accurate satellite navigation signal which enhances the precision of positioning data. It uses the measurements from a signal reference station to provide real-time data, thus allowing farming machinery to achieve a year-to-year accuracy of 2.5 cm. RTK is available to all farmers from small to large operations and thanks to the technology partnership with OS, CNH Industrial’s agriculture brands are able to supply their customers with a signal correction service comprehensive of OS’s mapping technology for a reasonable price.
By having such a high level of precision, several variables can be optimized in farming such as soil conservation with better soil structure, fuel and input savings along with time spent working a field thanks to minimalized field overlap. Through this agreement, the loss of signal has been greatly reduced due to the seamless switching between reference stations and GSM service providers, which takes place as the farming machinery using the system moves between coverage areas.
“The result is a guidance system that provides optimum signal availability no matter what the topography, eliminating the inaccuracy, downtime and stress that can be caused by signal loss,” explains John Downes, CNH Industrial Precision Farming Specialist for the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.
What does this mean for UK farming?
Precision farming and machine automation are already taking on ever-greater importance in order to meet the need for more efficient, economic and environmentally-friendly agriculture. When used for the precise positioning of farm machinery, the OS Net partnership with CNH Industrial increases efficiencies and optimizes yields throughout the complete crop cycle of planting, spraying, harvesting and cultivation. For example, you can plan and manage seed sowing more precisely, creating less waste and reducing costs. It also allows drivers to continue to work with reliable accuracy in poor field or operator conditions.
The total crop area in the UK stood at 6.1 million hectares in 2015. If we consider cereals and oilseeds as an example, the UK cereal crop area was approximately 3.1 million hectares in 2015 and the area of oilseed crop planted was 670,000 hectares. This totals 3.77 million hectares. If all of the UK’s cereal and oilseed were planted manually without RTK, assuming a general industry overlap error of 4%, there would be an overall loss of 70,800 hectares, equivalent to over 113,000 football pitches.
If on the other hand that whole area was planted with RTK, the error decreases to 0.33%. Therefore from that overlap loss recorded above without RTK, the total area saved would be 64,959 hectares for total potential savings of over £34 million depending upon fuel, seed and fertilizer inputs.
CNH Industrial and the future of farming
As the global top two in agricultural equipment and the Sector Leader in the Dow Jones World and Europe Sustainability Indices for the sixth year running, CNH Industrial is strongly invested in the future of farming. As such, the Company prides itself on its Precision Solutions & Telematics business unit which works across regions with technology industry leaders, such as OS, to develop the most innovative solutions for its different product segments: Agricultural Machinery, Construction Equipment and Commercial Vehicles. The Company invested USD $856 million in Research & Development (R&D) in 2015 and currently operates 49 R&D centres around the world, including a tractor R&D center in Basildon, United Kingdom where it manufactures tractors for its New Holland Agriculture brand that are exported to over 120 global markets.
Since the mid-1990s, CNH Industrial and its constituent agricultural equipment brands have led the industry in utilising precision technology to make farming as efficient, productive and sustainable as possible. Case IH’s Advanced Farming Systems (AFS) and New Holland’s Precision Land Management (PLM) packages were among the first to make use of GPS-aided systems to allow farmers to record their field activity, make non-overlapping passes, and variably-apply fertiliser and crop protection products, so that nothing is missed or wasted.
On August 30, 2016 CNH Industrial held a public preview of its concept autonomous tractor technology at the 2016 Farm Progress Show in Boone, IA, USA. The company’s Innovation Group proactively developed this concept autonomous technology to help farmers and agribusinesses sustainably boost production and productivity through the ability to make the most of ideal soil and weather conditions, as well as available labor. CNH Industrial’s concept autonomous tractor technology is the next step in the company’s innovation roadmap and holds significant promise for the sustainable and productive future of farming. In short, the autonomous development is about improving conditions for the industry’s existing labor force, including both farmers/contractors themselves and their employees.