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StarFireTM is a differential GPS developed by John Deere for it’s precision agriculture market. In 1994, John Deere engineers were intrigued by other smaller companies’ attempts to introduce yield mapping using a GPS receiver with a grain counter that produced maps of a field showing its yield. However, they felt the accuracy of these systems was too low to produce a useful map.

John Deere formed a team in 1997 to solve the problem of providing a more accurate GPS fix. They produced a dGPS system that differed dramatically from the other systems with help from Stanford University and engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

All guidance systems today rely on satellites to generate a position. The raw satellite signal’s accuracy is several meters which is not acceptable for precision agriculture applications. To achieve a higher rate of accuracy the satellite signals are improved through John Deere’s StarFirenetwork, a ground-based augmentation system.

The first version of StarFireoffered a 1 sigma-accuracy of about 1 meter. This means that while the displayed position (absolute accuracy) might be off by about 1 m, it could deliver you to within centimeters of a previously measured spot (relative accuracy).

The second version of StarFire  (SF2) delivers to within 5 cm of a particular geographical point and is accurate to under 10 cm around 95% of the time. GPS receivers generally offer about 15 m accuracy and ones using WAAS improve this to about 3 m. The relative accuracy of SF2 is improved to 2.5 cm.

StarFire is a fully automated and continuously self-monitoring system that is overseen around the clock to ensure maximum reliability. The network continues to receive upgrades and other enhancements to improve its performance.


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