Name: Gregor Holland
160 ha of fields
Agricultural crops: grassland, sugar beet, maize
eFarmer user since March 14, 2016
Dear friends I would like to share with you the result of one of the first tests of affordable GPS RTK system – FieldBEE with our customer in Germany. For those who don’t know me yet – I am Alexey, the technical director of eFarmer – developer of the precision farming app and products. I made the first prototype of the FieldBEE GPS antenna for farmers about a year ago. Since then we went through a challenging journey together with our first customers who have pre-ordered FieldBEE. In this great collaboration, we created the best tractor GPS and RTK system for farmers. Can’t express my gratitude and excitement of being able to hold the real FieldBEE and to test it with you.
I have just returned from my trip, where I was travelling around farms in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Poland. In this post, I would like to share with you the first story of Gregor from Voerde, Germany who became the third farmer who saw the FieldBEE in action. Gregor runs a 160 ha farm. They work together with a neighbour family and have one employee. It was very interesting to see how work is superbly organised. Every person works in shifts and knows exactly where and when they should start an operation. Every person in turns does tractor driving, working in the barn and doing other operations during the day. It allows them not to drive all day in the field but make the job more very, reduce a level of fatigue and increase efficiency.
Of course, it requires a lot of managerial work. Making schedules and work coordination. I was happy to see that the new functionality of eFarmer that we are working on “Teamwork” would be very handy on Greg’s farm. This functionality will allow assigning tasks, will show the starting and end point on the field and will make an automatic report. But this is about the future. Let us return to our current product – FieldBEE – the new affordable tractor GPS RTK system.
Real life tests of FieldBEE tractor RTK GPS system via the Radio signal during manure spraying operation
I was lucky to join Gregor for manure spraying operations:) We were testing the antenna performance with the Radio connection. To remind you FieldBEE can receive the correction signal with Radio within 2 km and with the Internet within 10 km. Results of FieldBEE tests with the Internet I will share in the next article.
To test the system we have placed the RTK base station in the field and installed the FieldBEE rover antenna on the top of Gregor’s tractor.
The specific of operation was the following: Gregor had to fill the tank with the manure, then drive to the field, then he had to find the exact point where he had finished the previous track, luckily the color of the manure was helping to find the right spot during the day:); next he had to drive the parallel line in the field until the tank got empty, which is happened quite soon. And this sequence was repeated again and again for until the day finished. Every time he was leaving the field the FieldBEE rover antenna was losing the Radio connection with RTK BEE Station. Every time he was returning to the field antenna needed 3-10 minutes to restore the Radio connection. And almost immediately after the RTK was starting to work it was already the time to leave the field.
It was disappointing and frustrating, but luckily FieldBEE can provide correction signal through the Internet:)
Real life tests of FieldBEE tractor RTK GPS system via the Radio signal with herbicide spraying operation
The next time when I visited Gregor, he was busy with spraying herbicides in the field. This time the system was performing much better as Gregor had to leave the field only once and we did some adjustments to the firmware. The RTK correction was stable even with Radio signal. On the screenshot bellow, you can see how beautiful it was.
I was very happy that our navigation system and the FieldBEE helped Gregor in his work. This is the biggest achievement for me.At the end of the operation, our system depicted an unsprayed area, that Gregor was able to fix immediately.
To finish this article I would like to highlight the following key learnings that I took with me:
- If you have buildings and trees, or if your fields are far away from each other it is better to use our RTK system with the mobile Internet connection.
- You need good Internet on your farm. RTK BEE station can be placed on the roof of your farm and connected to the WIFI. FieldBEE rover antenna should be connected to the mobile internet in the field.
- Ideas on the app improvement – show the end point in the field as a marker to make it easier for you to find it.
- Make autosaving of your data every 30 seconds to solve the issue of the system stability. Now you will no need to wait for a loooong time until your data are saving. And will not have risks to loose the information about your work.
Every visit to a farm, every conversation with a farmer and every test of eFarmer’s products give me thousands of insights and inspire me a lot in my work. All of you are very different, have different cases and challenges. I am very happy to see how my passion – technologies – can help you in your very important job – growing food and feeding our planet!
“It was very interesting for me and for my coworkers to test the FieldBEE. It is definitely a cost-effective tractor navigation solution. If it is stable, it will be a valuable help for us in fieldwork.”, – says our great customer Gregor Holland from Germany.