EDAS (EGNOS Data Access Service) is the EGNOS internet broadcast service, which provides free of charge access to the data collected and generated by the EGNOS infrastructure. EDAS disseminates over the Internet, both in real time and via an FTP archive, the raw data of the GPS, GLONASS (no commitment on GLONASS data is provided (1)) and EGNOS GEO satellites collected by the receivers located at the EGNOS reference stations, which are mainly distributed over Europe and North Africa. The EDAS services offer several types of GNSS data in various protocols and formats, such as DGNSS corrections. This paper reports on the results of some in-field tests conducted by ESSP and Topcon Agriculture to confirm the suitability of EDAS DGNSS corrections for precision farming in Europe.
The European Commission (EC) is the owner of EGNOS system (including EDAS) and has delegated the exploitation of EGNOS to the European GNSS Agency (GSA). EDAS service provision is performed by ESSP, as EGNOS Services Provider, under contract with the GSA, the EGNOS program manager.
In the ENC 2018 article “EDAS (EGNOS Data Access Service): Differential GPS corrections performance test with state-of-the-art precision agriculture system”, ESSP and Topcon Agriculture presented the results of the first in-field test conducted in a dynamic and real-life environment in the summer of 2017. The test results indicated that the EDAS DGNSS corrections could enable a reliable pass-to-pass accuracy performance for a wide range of precision agriculture applications and become an attractive solution for cereal farms, when the farm is located in the vicinity of an EGNOS reference station. In particular, Topcon Agriculture acknowledged that the observed performance was sufficient to support the following precision agriculture applications: spraying and spreading of any crop type, tilling and harvesting of cereal.
Then, ESSP and Topcon Agriculture engaged in additional testing activities to further characterise the EDAS DGPS performance in different scenarios (i.e. at various European locations and with a variety of distances between the designated farm and the target EGNOS reference station).
In each test, multiple runs with the rover tractors have been performed over the reference patterns predefined in the Topcon guidance systems. Data recorded during the tests has been analysed in detail, looking at the key performance indicators (e.g. cross track error and pass-to-pass performance) that characterize the EDAS DGPS performance for precision agriculture applications. Different techniques for the computation of the pass-to-pass accuracy performance have been used, including a procedure to measure live in the field and a post-processing alternative. The diversity of scenarios available allows drawing conclusions on the applicability of EDAS DGPS corrections (in terms of maximum distance from the target EGNOS station) for precision agriculture and also understanding the impact of operationally relevant aspects such as the quality of the mobile internet coverage (highly variable across Europe).
The EDAS system and its architecture, the main types of data disseminated through EDAS services and the online information available to the EDAS users are introduced in this paper. In particular, the EDAS Ntrip service is described in detail, since it provides the differential corrections to the GPS and GLONASS satellites at the EGNOS reference stations in RTCM format, which are the basis for the present study.
The article also reports on the results of the latest tests, which have been performed using Topcon receivers, vehicles and auto-steering systems. In all cases, two different Topcon guidance systems on board tractors were running simultaneously to assess the EDAS DGPS positioning performance with respect to a the reference provided by a top-performing RTK-based Topcon solution.
The objective of this paper is to draw conclusions on the use of EDAS DGPS corrections as a reliable free-of-charge alternative for precision farming in Europe (especially for cereal farms), based on the available performance results from the testing campaign and the feedback from the involved precision agriculture experts.