The umbrella of real-time kinematic (RTK) correction signals that covers much of the Corn Belt will be larger and more robust by the time the 2011 planting season rolls around. As a result, growers in many geographies will have multiple correction signal options for driving RTK navigation systems.

Going into 2010, most of the heart of the Corn Belt was covered by either radio or cellular systems, or both. But there were coverage gaps. By 2011, a coverage gap in Illinois will have been plugged, and coverage in Ohio, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and other states will have been beefed up.

The improved coverage is a result of build-outs of both traditional radio-based systems and newer cellular delivery systems, which distribute RTK corrections via the Internet through cellular communications networks. Unlike in recent years, when additions to the cellular delivery system were dominated by new and expanding state department of transportation (DOT) systems, this season’s new cellular entries are systems dedicated to agricultural users.

The new systems include MyWay RTK, Raven’s Slingshot technology, and Trimble’s VRS Now cellular system.

These systems are in addition to CORS systems run by state DOT. (CORS stands for Continuously Operating Reference Station, a system of base stations that provide RTK correction signals to surveyors and the general public, usually at no charge.) Midwestern states with these systems, which typically blanket entire states, include Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri.