Revitalising Agriculture

Providing better crop information, management and potential yield improvements of 5% with SBAS-AFRICA


Region: South Africa

Partners: UK Space Agency, South African National Space Agency (SANSA), Adroit Economics, GMV, Pildo Labs, Nottingham Scientific Limited.

The Challenge

The agricultural policy of South Africa’s government aims to drive efficiencies across the sector’s value chain by increasing production, therefore supporting rural economic transformation.

Some of the largest farms in South Africa already use high accuracy GPS services to control input costs and maximise production. However, these services are expensive, leaving many small and mid-size farms unable to afford them.

A solution was needed to provide a cost-effective GPS service that could increase productivity and cost savings for South African farms.

The Solution

Led by Avanti Communications, the SBAS-AFRICA project has deployed a satellite-based augmentation system which uses two Avanti satellites (ARTEMIS and HYLAS 2). A navigation transponder onboard the ARTEMIS spacecraft transmits navigation information, and HYLAS 2 ensures reliable high-performance data communications for the SBAS infrastructure.

Providing up to 1-metre accuracy, SBAS services can be used to improve precision farming activities and tractor-guided operations. Many GPS systems are already fitted to agricultural vehicles that can receive SBAS signals, however, new systems can be purchased for a minimal cost. The SBAS-AFRICA programme is funded under the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Space Programme (IPSP).

The Benefits

  • The SBAS-AFRICA project has the potential to deliver 10% cost savings on fuel, fertiliser and pesticides
  • SBAS services can be used in conjunction with drones to survey land and monitor crops
  • Valuable agricultural equipment and machinery can be tracked
  • Farmers can switch to a free signal
  • Overall, it is estimated that the use of SBAS could generate an additional 170,000 tonnes of cereal crops per annum, cost savings of R300m, and increased sales of R200m