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Size does matter: the uptake of GNSS

A RECENT SURVEY OF DUTCH FARMERS SHOWS THAT ALTHOUGH SIZE DOES MATTER, SMALLER FARMS CAN BENEFIT FROM THE UPTAKE OF GNSS

Global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) are a key enabler for precision agriculture. Driving on perfect parallel lines, avoiding overlaps and gaps in cultivation activities, and reducing driver fatigue through autopilot applications have been the main incentives for farmers to invest in GNSS systems. 


A survey in the Netherlands last year showed that 65 per cent of the country’s arable farms are now using GNSS in their operation. The Netherlands is known for its small fields and high yields compared to other agricultural areas. Farmers know every corner of their fields. A tough job to get precision farming adopted, you might say, as the usual benefits are not so obvious. This is perhaps the reason why yield monitors never became very popular here, as they only confirm what farmers know already.

Instead, the main technology to boost precision agriculture in the Netherlands has been GNSS and applications like parallel driving and auto-steering. In the past 10 years, the use of GNSS tools has grown rapidly, from 10 per cent of arable farms in 2007 to 65 per cent in 2013.

Besides a growth in the number of farms using GNSS, the number of GNSS systems per farm has also increased, from one to two or three GNSS-equipped tractors.Nowadays, the majority of replacements for tractors and imple- ments have factory-installed GNSS. In other agricultural sectors, such as horticulture and animal husbandry, the adoption rates are much lower. The most obvious reasons for this are the smaller scale operations that less easily provide return on investment.

Click here to read the full article, published by Geoconnexion International, volume 15, May 2014.

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UNIFARM is carried out in the context of the Galileo FP7 R&D programme supervised by the GSA (Nr. 287206)