Precision farming with the FieldBee in comparison to other tractor GPS systems

Farming is a very difficult business. It is possible to be a farmer only if you really love it. There are easier ways to earn money. Do you agree with us?

Every year farmers invest in the new harvest and It is often a risk because they never know when they will get their money back.

Hence, farmers are continuously seeking for solutions that might help them in increasing their profit and yield. Precision farming is recognized as a great practice that can help farmers to reduce up to 70% of the costs of food production and be more sustainable, not to mention improving working conditions and reduce time in field operations.

We are happy in eFarmer that more and more companies are offering precision farming products and more and more farmers are investing their time and money into the adoption of new ways of doing farming. This makes us believe that our mission of bringing accuracy and precision available for every farmer will soon become a reality.

While consulting the growing number of FieldBee owners we have noticed that it is very difficult for farmers to understand which precision farming product suits the best of their needs. These struggles are mostly raising questions related to the differences in prices, accuracy, and functionality of precision solutions such as tractor GPS systems.

The FieldBee team always tends to help customers by answering questions related to FieldBee GPS products. Therefore we have recently welcomed our precision specialists-Inge Nammensma. Living at the small farm herself, Inge understands farmers’ struggle and is willing to provide the best consultation about different precision farming solutions to our customers.

‘’My priority is to advise farmers so that they can make a good choice to choose the most suitable GPS products that make agriculture more efficient and effective for farmers and the environment.’’

Inge Nammensma, Precision specialist

Every company claims to have the best GPS solution for farmers. But every farm is unique and there is no one best solution for all of them.

To help farmers understand and evaluate different products we have decided to make a comparison between them. We have tried to be objective even though it was difficult as we all love our FieldBee products and think that they are the best:)

As FieldBee antenna can receive the RTK signal we decided to compare it with similar products. There are many GPS antennas on the market that are more affordable but can not work with the RTK system. So if a farmer will decide to get higher accuracy in the future he will need to buy everything new.

In this article, we will be focusing on describing the main differences in price, accuracy, and practicality between FieldBee GPS systems and the following most recognised manufacturers: John Deere, Trimble, Topcon, and Raven.

We have decided to compare separately manual guidance systems and tractor auto steer systems.

How is the FieldBee Manual Guidance different from John Deere, Trimble, Topcon, and Raven?

Manual guidance or manual parallel driving system is the first step toward higher precision of field operations. It is a more affordable solution and is a good way to begin. The parallel guidance system can help to reduce overlaps and missed spots in the field and perform fieldwork faster. Farmer can save 5-20% costs with the manual guidance system.

The economical benefit of using manual guidance depends on the accuracy of the system. Accuracy is a very important characteristic of the system as it is very often correlated with the price. So the higher the accuracy you want the higher the price you need to pay.

Talking to farmers, we have realized that it is very difficult for them to understand which accuracy they need. From the theory, grassland farmers do not need high precision so any submeter accuracy can be enough for them. On the other hand arable farmers more often need higher precision that depends on the crops and plants that they grow.

But what we have realized that many farmers are growing both kinds of grass for animals and crops as well as they can change what they grow and experiment in different fields.

‘’We have developed the RTK GPS system with highest possible accuracy – 0-4cm so that it can be used for all farming operations, not just spraying.’’

Michael Utkin, Co-Founder and CEO

Learn more about the FieldBee by following this link

If you know that submeter accuracy is enough for you, check the table below. With FieldBee you can achieve 30-45 cm accuracy without RTK signal. Other systems can allow you to drive the tractor with higher accuracy 15-20 cm.

John Deere, Trimble, and Topcon, and Raven have much higher prices, due to the antenna and terminal expensiveness. In case you don’t know terminal – is a monitor with software for tractor GPS navigation. This is where FieldBee is very different from other companies as we have made a mobile application with the same functionality that you can install on your Android smartphone or tablet and use instead of an expensive terminal. We enabled a two-week free trial of our software, a period where farmers can learn how to use our FieldBee tractor navigation.

As we promised to keep our comparison objective we need to admit that using terminals can be more stable in some cases as some smartphones and tablets are not compatible with the FieldBee system. And if you don’t have an android device you  need to add to the price the cost of the new device (300-600 Euro) plus good rugged case and solid holder for tractor cabin.

Check FieldBee Manual Guidance by following this link

Table 1. FieldBee Manual Guidance vs John Deere, Trimble, Topcon, and Raven

How is the FieldBee Manual Guidance + RTK different from other precision agricultural systems

RTK is a technology that allows improving the accuracy of tractor GPS systems up to +/-2 cm. It consists of 2 antennae: one that is placed on the tractor roof and receives the RTK signal (antenna receiver or antenna rover) and another antenna that works as a reference point and transmits the correction signal to the receiver. The name of this antenna is the RTK base station. 

With the combination of the FieldBee Manual Guidance and RTK, farmers can increase their accuracy on the field to +/- 2 cm and achieve very high precision during field operations and the highest amount of savings that are possible with manual guidance 15-20% according to some of our customers.

‘’We are using the latest modern technologies and chips to build the most valuable precision products for farmers.’’

Alexey Bogatyryov, CTO

It was quite difficult for us to collect prices of RTK systems for farmers from other companies in this research as most of them don’t publish price lists. Their prices depend on local dealers and distributors and may very. So we put them approximately.

In general, if you want to have a manual guidance system with RTK accuracy from mentioned in the table companies you will need to purchase antenna receiver, terminal and either your own RTK base station or pay a yearly subscription for RTK signal. You will be also charged some fee for RTK activation.

With FieldBee you can own your RTK system at 1864 Euro. No additional costs and charges for RTK signal, no unlocking costs. You can freely share your signal with your neighbors as one base station can be connected to an unlimited number of FieldBee GNSS receivers.

And unlike the other manufacturers such as John Deere and Topcon, our FieldBee GNSS receiver can work with other RTK providers that are free for farmers in some countries (for example SAPOS, FLEPOS, i.e.). Trimble and Raven share the same compatibility with the third-party providers as FieldBee RTK but require an additional payment for RTK unlock.

Accuracy is similarly provided by all tractor GPS systems, including FieldBee.

Learn more about the FieldBee Manual Guidance + RTK on the following link

When choosing the RTK system it is important to check such characteristics as the radius of the signal. In the case of FieldBee, it transmits correction in 2 modes via Radio with a radius of 2 km and via the Internet with radius 10+ km. You need to understand that if using the system in the radio mode, signal can be lost due to the interference of power cables, high trees, and buildings. If using with Wi-Fi you need to connect both base station and receiver to the internet.

Table 2. FieldBee Manual Guidance + RTK vs John Deere, Trimble, Topcon and Raven

Conclusions

Manual guidance systems can help farmers to reduce 5-20% of their costs. The exact amount of savings depends on many factors one of which is the accuracy of the system.

There are many GPS systems on the market but we advise to choose the one that can be upgraded to the higher accuracy and next level of precision farming solutions such as the tractor autosteer system.

Also, the system needs to be easy to install and change between tractors.

We wish you to make a good decision and will share with you the comparison of tractor autosteer systems in the next article.

Please let us know in comments if you find this article useful and what are other brands that you want to be reviewed by us and maybe we have missed some important characteristics in our comparison?

Inge,
Precision farming specialist

Email: inge@fieldbee.com
Contact number: +4915115275500

References

John Deere (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.deere.com/en/technology-pcroducts/precision-ag-technology/guidance/greenstar-3-2630

FieldBee (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://fieldbee.com/products

Raven (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://ravenprecision.com/products/guidance-steering

Trimble (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://agriculture.trimble.com/products

Topcon (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.topconpositioning.com/nl

ebay (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.ebay.com/b/General/14111

The Comparison article was conducted and based on publicly available data and resources. Specifications and prices mentioned in the Article vary per country.

All rights reserved © (in Copyright info@efarmer.nl) 2019

Written by Natalie Utkina and Sabina Kojic

In the cooperation with Inge Nammensma, Michael Utkin, and Alexey Bogatyryov

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *