Blog Editor’s Note: A good reminder about the importance of GPS to agriculture. Some estimate that today’s agriculture is 30% more efficient and food is much less costly and more plentiful than before GPS. If signals were to go away, so would those savings. Not to mention the huge disruption needed to bring more people, equipment, and supplies back into the industry.
Note that the broadcast host mentions recent power grid problems in her introduction, and John Phipps mentions the pandemic. Both recent examples of knowing beforehand there is a problem, but waiting until disaster has already struck before doing anything.
BTW – the video is 3:23 and has more info than the text version.
What if GPS goes down?
Back in the old days when men were men, and farming was a brutal struggle against nature, GPS systems would go goofy every now and then when fewer satellites were above the horizon. So around 4 pm., you could wake up on your field cultivator somewhere in the next field. You youngsters think I’m kidding, but life wasn’t easy then like you kids have it now.
It took about 10 minutes after installing your first GPS guidance system for farmers to fall in love with this technology. In the years since, guidance has not only gotten remarkably better on our farms, but we can find our way to anywhere with Google Maps, tell where grain trucks are by checking our phones, install tile with astonishing precision, and have stopped using “getting lost” as an excuse for being late. GPS may have made as big an impact on our lives as cell phones, although there is a lot of overlap.
Only this miraculous addition to our lives is actually more fragile than we could imagine.