Smart farming

May 16, 2013
Satnav steered tractor. Credit: ESA

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

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) to steer and control tractors and implements.

RTK satnav increases the precision of position data derived from the Galileo, GPS and constellations. By using the 'phase' information of the signal's carrier wave, rather than just the 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.

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

Tractor guidance system. Credit: Navtronics BVBA

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.

Explore further: Satellite navigation steers unmanned micro-planes

Related Stories

Satellite navigation steers unmanned micro-planes

September 1, 2010

( -- An unmanned aircraft system guided by satnav has been developed within ESA's Business Incubation Centre to provide rapid monitoring of land areas and disaster zones. The planes have already helped Spanish ...

E-shirt improves physical exercise

September 17, 2010

Whether you are a professional athlete or just enjoy physical exercise, instant data on your performance can improve your training. With help from ESA, a Spanish firm has developed a smart ‘e-shirt’ to measure and transmit ...

EU's Galileo satnav system over budget, late: report

October 7, 2010

Europe's Galileo satellite navigation system, meant to rival the US-built Global Positioning System (GPS), is over budget, running late and will be unprofitable for years, a press report said on Thursday.

Milestone for European navigation system

March 12, 2013

Galileo, Europe's rival to the US Global Positioning System (GPS), passed a milestone Tuesday when it pinpointed its first-ever ground location, the European Space Agency said.

Recommended for you

Hubble captures a galactic waltz

November 26, 2015

This curious galaxy—only known by the seemingly random jumble of letters and numbers 2MASX J16270254+4328340—has been captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope dancing the crazed dance of a galactic merger. The ...

A blue, neptune-size exoplanet around a red dwarf star

November 25, 2015

A team of astronomers have used the LCOGT network to detect light scattered by tiny particles (called Rayleigh scattering), through the atmosphere of a Neptune-size transiting exoplanet. This suggests a blue sky on this world ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.