New CORS network to connect CQ growers

Central Queensland will soon be covered by a network of base stations allowing local farmers to adopt cutting-edge precision farming techniques.
CQ’s peak natural resource management group, Fitzroy Basin Association Inc. (FBA), has initiated the establishment of a continually operating reference station (CORS) network in the region.
FBA is working with two companies chosen to set-up the CORS network, Precision Agriculture and C.R. Kennedy Pty Ltd. Tim Neale from Precision Agriculture said the network would require at least 30 base stations being established in the region, ensuring almost total coverage of the FBA region.
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“We are currently looking for land managers that might be willing to host a base station on their property to help us establish the CORS network,” Mr Neale said.
“The network will give farmers across the Fitzroy Basin seamless access to GPS information for their tractor or sprayer, with high accuracy (+/-2cm) positioning over large areas,” he said.
“Using GPS to compute a position in the field enables precision movement of farm machinery, which is the backbone of controlled traffic farming (CTF) – a practice that is shown to reduce soil compaction and erosion, and improve productivity and efficiency.
“The new network will offer greater accuracy over long distances than using a personal base station, and will be accessible by anyone with a receiver and screen capable of RTK (2cm auto-steer).”
C.R. Kennedy will install the infrastructure for the new network, and their subsidiary SmartNetAus will run the network, including providing the base station feeds to other companies that wish to utilise the data.
It is expected that farmers, contractors and other industries will be able to subscribe to the network through their service provider for around $900 per year, or by purchasing pre-paid hours.
FBA CEO Paul Birch said the network would transform access to GPS data and further boost the adoption of controlled traffic farming principles, leading to better environmental outcomes.
“Local growers are already leaders in their use of precision agriculture technologies and techniques, and this will make life even easier for farmers seeking to get the most from the technology available,” Mr Birch said.
“CTF systems minimise movement across the landscape which has significant benefits for productive landscapes and healthier waterways. Less soil compaction mean rainfall is more effectively used to grow crops, meaning less run-off carrying soil and other contaminants into nearby creeks and rivers.
“In addition, CTF and GPS allow more strategic and direct application of herbicides, which combined with greater ground cover means less wastage and run-off of chemicals.”
Mr Birch said FBA was coordinating the establishment of the CORS network with funding provided through the Reef Rescue component of the Australian Government’s Reef Rescue program.