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Why did GPS change to GNSS?

You may have noticed that we used to hear about GPS in precision ag, and now we may see GNSS instead. What changed?

By DeImna Heiken

You may have noticed that we used to hear about GPS in precision ag, and now we may see GNSS instead.  What changed? 

GPS, or Global Positioning System includes the United States satellites that help determine our location on earth, and when some of us started in precision ag, this was the only satellite constellation available.  Since then, depending on our receiver, satellites from many countries are available, not just the GPS satellite system from the United States.  The general term for all these satellite systems is Global Navigation Satellite System, or GNSS.  It’s kind of like asking for a ‘Kleenex’ to use, ‘Kleenex’ is a brand name for paper tissues.  GPS is the US brand of Global Navigation Satellite Systems. 

Other GNSS systems that we can use with newer Trimble receivers in agriculture include, GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (European Union), BeiDou (China), and QZSS (Japan).  With the addition of more satellites growers may see improved accuracy, repeatability, and for some availability.  Especially for those trying to get their work done in the north, there are some times of the day when there just aren’t enough of the GPS (US) satellites in view, resulting in reduced accuracy at the least, and sometimes downtime.  Newer receivers that can utilize other GNSS systems, don’t have those limitations.

So even though we have to learn yet another acronym, this brings great news to growers who are trying to leverage technology to improve their bottom line.  If you’re not sure what GNSS systems your receiver is using, be sure and ask your dealer to explain your choices, it could be the difference in getting work done before the storm or trying to play catch up.

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