Last year I wrote an article about farm equipment dealerships putting up their own network of RTK towers so farmers in the area could get RTK without having to buy, and cart around, their own $20,000 base stations. They just paid an annual subscription instead, which was $1,000 to $1,500 per machine.
Raven leapfrogs this tower network plan by making use of existing cellphone towers, high-powered base stations at its dealerships, and the Slingshot Field Hub in the cab. Together, these signals and receivers provide repeatable accuracy over a 30-mile radius. And there’s no line-of-site requirement. Farmers pay a subscription to the dealership to get this service.
I asked Kristin Tilus, marketing coordinator at Raven HQ in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, if Slingshot works wherever you can get cell service. “It’s actually better than that,” Tilus says. “With military grade electronics, Slingshot will give you better coverage than typical cell phone coverage.” In places where you may lose a cell signal, Slingshot will keep working, she says.
The Slingshot Field Hub is designed to work with all major cell phone networks in Canada and the U. S.
With the Field Hub and your subscription, you also get high-speed Internet in the cab. You can think of many practical uses for high-speed Internet access, especially when you have handsfree steering and want to check markets or re-read a favourite Grainews article.
Through this instant connection, Raven will also store all your field and application data in a secure database you can access any time, anywhere. “With your data online in a secure Slingshot account (that can update in near real-time), you can track vehicle locations, make on-the-fly changes to work orders like prescription maps, and monitor, collect and analyze data from all your assets at the place and time that works for you,” according to the announcement.
Through this same connection, subscribers can also tap into Raven’s Slingshot support team without ever leaving the cab. “If there’s an issue, we’re there in real time to diagnose it, fix it or walk that operator through it,” the announcement says.
Finally, with Slingshot’s accurate RTK signal, farmers can get more out of their Raven precision controllers. That’s really what RTK is all about. While RTK is primarly used for high-value row crops, grain farmers in Western Canada are exploring the idea of using RTK so they can accurately seed between the stubble rows.
Jay Whetter was the editor of Grainews. By the time you read this, Jay will have moved on to a new role with the Canola Council of Canada.