Top 5 Best RTK GPS Receivers for Agriculture

Finding a good GPS antenna for your agriculture  projects can be difficult and time consuming. With more and more brand entering the market won’t make it any easier.

Normally you would have gone to your local dealer and he would tell you he has the best receiver for you, but is this really true? Most local dealers only have 1 to 2 brands and probably just offer you what they want to sell you, not which receiver is best and most cost-effective for you. 

Active users of RTK GPS equipment in the agriculture business use the equipment for several reasons. Besides using it for machine control and/or autonomous driving, a lot of farmers use a GPS surveying set to stake out their property. Collection of coordinates and mapping of the workable area are also included in the day to day job. 

The RTK GNSS receiver sets are pretty similar to the GPS sets used by land surveyors however the big difference is, farmers normally don’t work in challenging conditions like urban environments.

Most GNSS interferences a farmer will come across are from trees or standalone building. I mean you would still need a good performing GPS antenna but the best of the best is just overkill and a waist of money

 

Performance and price are 2 of the key ingredients of finding a good GPS receiver. Of course there are more components that play a role which we take in consideration as well. 

Here is our review process in detail:

  1. Performance
  2. Price
  3. Connectivity
  4. Compatibility
  5. Features  

Top 5 Best RTK GNSS Receivers For Farmers in 2021

Below is a list of the top 5 best RTK GNSS receivers for farmers that we think are cost effective and work well in the environments common in the agriculture industry.

Please note: As you probably know, a GPS surveying set is not complete without a good surveying software solution. Where the GNSS antenna determines the location its the software that allows you to determine what to do with this location. Wether this is uploading your DTM (digital terrain model) for staking out, or for point collection. In this review we focus on the GNSS antenna only because this is responsible for the performance. Please read the article below for a good software solution: 

  • Software Help Guide – Top 5 software for land surveying

 

1. South Galaxy G1 – Best overall

 

Galaxy G1 Pros

+  4G internet 

+  Fast FIX (CM accurate in 5 sec)

+  Connect via IP, Bluetooth, Cable

+  Optional tilt sensor

+  L-band corrections with Trimble and Novatel GNSS board 

+  410-470 MHz range internal radio 

+  Robust aluminum housing

 

45%
2,395.002,995.00 Excl. VAT

The South Galaxy G1 is the model we recommend for the agriculture industry. It is the cheaper version of the high performance South Galaxy G1 PLUS.

The reason we have picked the Galaxy G1 as the number one receiver is first of all its price. With the option of 3 different GNSS boards the G1 starts at just over €2.000. If you go for the Trimble GNSS board it would set you back just under €3.000,- which is a decent price for a good performing GPS antenna.

The G1 might not be as good as the G1 PLUS but thats why it’s cheaper. And in the agriculture business, you’ll have more than enough power with this GPS antenna.  

Its standard NMEA protocol allows you to connect it to any software or machine you like. Within its Intuitive user interface you can choose which parts of the NMEA string you want to include or not. This is good to reduce noise when you only need the GGA data. Connect the device to any software package via bluetooth, Cable or via the internet. And talking about internet, the South Galaxy G1 comes with 4G so you don’t have to worry about internet issues when 3G networks are faced out. 

Lat but not least the G1’s internal radio uses the 410-470 MHz range and can use the protocols TRIMTALKS and SATEL. This allows you to set it up with most local base stations if a CORS network or VRS RTK network is not available.

Here are some possible Galaxy G1 setups

Galaxy G1 Rover set

A standard RTK GPS set for mapping your terrain, staking out or collecting points.

Check options

Galaxy G1 Rover and Base set

When you live in a remote area a second GPS receiver is needed to act as a base station for correction data. 

Check options

 

2. Emlid Reach RS2 – Cheapest price

 

Reach RS2 Pros

+  3.5G internet 

+  Fast FIX (CM accurate in 5 sec)

+  Connect via IP, Bluetooth, Cable

+  Free surveying app (Reachview)

+  Internal battery (+10 Hrs)

+  Ublox GNSS chip 

 

1,795.00 Excl. VAT

The newest RTK GPS receiver of Emlid is the Reach RS2. This GPS antenna is an upgrade of the previous Emlid Reach RS+. 

The Emlid RTK GNSS receivers are possibly one of the most user friendly devices currently on the market. The Reach RS2 comes standard with a free Surveying app called Reachview. This app is downloadable from the google play store and Apple store. With this app you can access the Emlid’s user interface where you can do your surveying jobs but also setup and change the settings of the receiver itself. Since the app connects to the Emlid via WiFi it is also possible to access it via a web browser. This means that you can run the free application on any device you like. 

The price is also very attractive on the Emlid GPS antenna. With around €1700 it is by far the cheapest on the market. In terms of performance they are surprisingly good as well. 

In terms of connectivity the Emlid is able to connect via Bluetooth, USB or via the internet. This allows you to connect the device to any other software you want it to. Its internal battery is good for around 10 to 12 hours of continuous surveying. 

 

Here are some possible Reach RS2 setups

Reach RS2 Rover set

A standard RTK GPS set for mapping your terrain, staking out or collecting points.

Check options

Reach RS2 Rover and Base set

When you live in a remote area a second GPS receiver is needed to act as a base station for correction data. 

Check options

 

3. Kolida K5 UFO – Affordable

 

K5 UFO Pros

+  4G internet 

+  Fast FIX (CM accurate in 5 sec)

+  Connect via IP, Bluetooth, Cable

+  Dual battery system 

+  Hot swappable battery system

+  Tilt sensor option

+  L-Band corrections with Novatel board

 

45%
2,395.002,995.00 Excl. VAT

Kolida Instrument is of the the bigger companies in Asia and one of their popular models is the Kolida K5 UFO. This GPS receiver is used a lot for land surveying which means it is a good performing antenna. Since you can purchase this RTK GPS for less than €3.000,- we believe it is a good solution for the agriculture business as well. 

The Kolida K5 UFO comes with 2 GNSS board options, a Comnav K708 GNSS chip with 692 channels or a Novatel with 555 channels. Both GNSS chips are full constellation with GPS L1 L2 L5, Glonass L1 L2 L3, Galileo E1 E5 and BeiDou B1 B2 B3.

The K5 UFO is capable of connecting to any surveying app or computer of your liking. This gives you the flexibility in how you want to work with this GPS antenna. Standard connection types are Bluetooth, Serial cable or via IP. Most farmers use it to connect to their tablet which has a surveying application installed so they can measure and collect data out in the field. 

The K5 UFO has an 410-470 MHz internal radio. This SDL-400 in-build radio can be used for when no RTK correction service is available in your region. You can then connect it to an existing base station nearby or you can purchase a second K5 UFO which you can then setup as your own base station. 

 

Here are some possible K5 UFO setups

K5 UFO Rover set

A standard RTK GPS set for mapping your terrain, staking out or collecting points.

Check options

K5 UFO Rover and Base set

When you live in a remote area a second GPS receiver is needed to act as a base station for correction data. 

Check options

 

4. Stonex S850 – Good performance

 

S700 Pros

+  4G internet 

+  Fast FIX (CM accurate in 5 sec)

+  Hemisphere GNSS board with L-band

+  Connect via Bluetooth, Cable

+  E-bubble and tilt sensor (up to 30° angle)

+  Easy to use Cube-a software (optional)

 

35%
5,995.00 3,895.00 Excl. VAT

Stonex is a well-known company in Europe and is based in Italy. It is correlated with the China based company Unistrong which on its own is connected to Hemisphere again. The Stonex S850 is probably not the most sold RTK GNSS receiver from the company but in terms of performance and price it is a good alternative for the agriculture industry. 

Same as the previous GPS antenna’s it is a full constellation GNSS receiver with 700 channels. Triple frequency satellite tracking with centimeter accuracy. One of the upsides of the S850 is its versatility. You can use it like any other GPS antenna as a network rover where you connect to an existing VRS RTK- or CORS network but you can also set it up with another S850 which acts as a single base station. It then transmits the data via the internal radio for when you are working in remote areas where there is no internet reception. 

Another feature of the S850 RTK GPS is the L-band correction. Since it has a Hemisphere GNSS chip inside you can use the Atlas correction service. This satellite based correction service can provide you an accuracy of approximately 10cm. It is not as accurate as RTK but for some applications this accuracy might not be needed. 

In terms of data connectivity it works the same as all other GPS receivers. Connect it via Bluetooth to you data collector and start measuring. Stonex offers its own survey application which is Cube-a. This is a paid version but is relatively easy to use. of course you can connect your own application if you like since it uses the standard NMEA protocol.

Here are some possible S850 setups

Stonex S850 Rover set

A standard RTK GPS set for mapping your terrain, staking out or collecting points.

Check options

Stonex S850 Rover and Base set

When you live in a remote area a second GPS receiver is needed to act as a base station for correction data. 

Check options

 

5. Satlab SL600 – European build

 

SL600 Pros

+  4G internet 

+  Fast FIX (CM accurate in 5 sec)

+  Easy to use Satsurv software (optional)

+  Connect via IP, Bluetooth, Cable

+  Dual battery system

40%
4,995.00 2,995.00 Excl. VAT

Satlab Geosolutions has been around for a while now. The SL600 is one of their older models but in terms of performance a good device. It uses a Trimble BD970 GNSS chip with 220 channels that performs well under normal circumstances. The reason why we recommend this GPS antenna instead of the newest SL900 is because a farmer normally don’t tend to work in tough conditions. For this reason the best of the best in not needed. 

Same a the previous RTK GNSS receivers the SL600 is a full constellation GPS antenna. It is however a dual frequency GPS receiver but again, for farmers and the agriculture industry is more than enough 

For connectivity it has the same options as all other devices. Bluetooth connection for linking your tablet and software. You can either use the Satlab owned Satsurv surveying software or the Satlab recommended software solutions which are Aplitop and Carlson

For accuracy purposes you can use the Satlab SL600 as a network rover and connect it to an existing VRS RTK or CORS network. Rover and base setups are possible as well by buying a second SL600 GPS antenna which then sends the data via the 400 MHz frequency radio. UHF protocols the SL600 GPS antenna can handle are TRIMTALK, SATEL, TRIMARK and transparent protocol

Here are some possible S850 setups

SL600 Rover set

A standard RTK GPS set for mapping your terrain, staking out or collecting points.

Check options

SL600 Rover and Base set

When you live in a remote area a second GPS receiver is needed to act as a base station for correction data. 

Check options

Things to consider when choosing an RTK GPS receiver for Agriculture purposes

 

1. Besides The GPS Antenna You Will Need Surveying Software As Well

With just a GNSS receiver you are not going to get far. Yes the GPS antenna provides you with the positioning data and the accuracy that you need but you’ll still need a place to process all of this. 

This is what land surveying software is for. Within the software you can attach data to your GPS positioning data. By uploading DTM (Digital Terrain Models) into your software you can stake out these points based on the positioning data your GPS system provides. 

The receivers listed above are all compatible with most of the GPS survey software packages so connecting should not be an issue. Now the questions remains, Which software package do I need? You can read the article below to find a good solution:

  • Software Help Guide – Top 5 software for land surveying

 

2. Internet connection and Radio

Since farming and agriculture mostly happens in rural areas the change you will have a stable internet connection is small. 

What does this mean for you? Well if you want to use a VRS RTK- or CORS network you might run into some issues. These networks send the correction data via the internet which means you won’t be able to receive any. 

For this reason most farmers will place their own base station which they can use. These base stations send the data via UHF radio which always works. So before making a decision on which RTK GPS receiver to buy, check if your area has stable internet and if there is an existing CORS network

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