WORLD first trials of hyper-accurate satellite positioning technology were launched today in Australia, paving the way for profit-boosting modern farming systems.
Cattle tracking collars are the first farm kit to be tested, but trials of cropping and machinery systems are in the pipeline.
Essentially, the new Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) takes signal from Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites and makes it more accurate and reliable.
First generation SBAS has been in use in other countries, but Australia is leading the way with the second generation of the technology, trialling technology for use across Australasia.
Federal agency Geoscience Australia launched a two year investigation of SBAS earlier this year and sought partnerships with private enterprise. The federal government committed $12m in funding and the New Zealand government chipped in $2m.
Trials to date have focused on signal testing, but today, Central Queensland University at Rockhampton launched a trial of cattle tracking collars, with $180,000 in government funds and $105,000 from the university.
Associate professor precision livestock Mark trotter said a range of applications would be tested.
“SBAS increases the location accuracy of GPS, which is between 5 and 10 metres and takes it to 0.5m accuracy. We’re looking how we use that accuracy to improve farming applications,” Prof. Trotter said.
“We’re using tracking collars now, and developing an ear tag that uses the system as well.”
Accurate tracking can monitor and detect key animal behaviours that indicate things like calving, illness or lameness by detecting changes in movement patterns, ruminating or eating.
It could also be used for rotational and strip grazing.
Future SBAS will be run in nine target industries, including agriculture, aviation, construction, maritime, rail, resources, road, spatial and utilities.
Minister for Northern Australia Matt Canavan said SBAS would be an economic boost for primary producers.
“As part of the trial, a number of the projects will be looking at how improvements in positioning can be used to increase production and lower costs for farmers,” Mr Canavan said.
“In September, a second generation SBAS signal was switched on. It is the first time anywhere in the world that SBAS-2 signals have been transmitted. Australia is also the first country in the world to trial Precise Point Positioning corrections integrated into a SBAS service.”