GPS is Global Positioning System. This is system which provides timing and location data to anyone who has a GPS receiver in all weather condition and anywhere on the earth. This system was developed by USA in 1973 by launching satellites into the earth’s outer orbit. The GPS previously in the 1980s showed a drift of kilometers which lead to huge errors. Then scientists from USA and Russia collaborated, made the required calculations and rectified the errors to few kilometers. Then launching of multiple satellites into the outer orbit has has brought down the error to few meters in today’s world.
This was all about GPS and its evolution. But the main question is how is this GPS system going to help us manage acres of land without us being present.
How GPS works?
GPS is a satellite-based positioning system operated by the United States Department of Defense (DoD). GPS encompasses three segments—space, control, and user. The space segment includes the 24 operational NAVSTAR satellites that orbit the earth every 12 hours at an altitude of approximately 20,200 kilometers. Each satellite contains several high-precision atomic clocks and constantly transmits radio signals using a unique identifying code. The receiver receives the timing signals from more than 4 or more satellites and calculates its position by averaging out the timing values.
GPS in Agriculture?
Today we can’t any street without depending on Google Maps. GPS comes in handy in many important aspects right from cars with GPS navigation systems to finding an address. In agriculture world, we are looking at a system which will stand on its own legs without any human required. The drones that will be used for GIS(Geographical Information System), DSM(Digital Soil Mapping) or crop analysis will be fitted with a GPS to navigate the farms with appropriate GPS data. The GPS data is embedded onto the images taken from the drones for better estimation and mapping of farms.
The images are used to generate a map of the farm and calculate the crop health. According to the crop health, another map is generated which contains all the GPS data and the amount of fertilizers to be sprayed according to the crop health. The healthier plants would need less fertilizers and the similarly low health plants would require more fertilizer. This data is fed to the Unmanned System or sprayer drones which are used for spraying fertilizer.
The data contains amount of fertilizer to be sprayed on the corresponding GPS coordinates which is read by the spraying unit. The drone or the sprayer then moves to the starting position of the GPS coordinate on the farm and starts spraying according to the data provided. The drones and UGV(Unmanned Ground Vehicle) are also fitted with a guidance unit which contains ultrasonic sensors ,cameras and other range sensors to detect any obstacle during its motion. The guidance is required because sometimes there can be GPS error during the spraying and the spraying system can go astray from the required path. Hence the guidance system will guide the unit on its appropriate path. GPS is embedded with every data that comes in or goes out. GPS coordinates guides the whole system so that every activity performed is accurate and optimized.