Farmers May Need to Update GPS Equipment

Satellite replacements made earlier this year may affect farmers who use GPS.

The Federal Aviation Administration replaced two satellites of the Wide Area Augmentation Service in July. The new satellites will provide farmers who use GPS more accuracy and better signal strength, but in order to receive signal correction from the new satellites they may have to update the firmware in their receivers.

"The change in satellites affects only WAAS GPS," says Pat Reeg, field operations manager with the Iowa Soybean Association. "And not all WAAS receiver systems will be affected. It does not impact OmniSTAR, John Deere SF2 or SF2, or the Nationwide Differential GPS, which is the old Coast Guard Beacon System."

According to Reeg, producers will learn they need a firmware update, if their receiver isn't getting a differential signal. If they are getting a differential correction signal everything is fine, if not firmware needs to be updated.

"Most of the precision ag equipment manufacturers have updated firmware that can be downloaded from their product support site, or you can ask your dealer about it," Reeg says. "Generally, the firmware updates are provided at no cost, but dealers may charge for their time in updating systems for growers."

Without updated firmware, the uncorrected signal will cause the GPS to be less reliable, and field passes on yield maps will not be straight.

For more information about how satellite replacement may impact GPS equipment, contact a local ag precision dealer.

Source: Iowa Soybean Association

TAGS: Technology
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