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What’s New: Two or three days prime planting was lost for many farmers because of solar weather.

Why It’s Important: As mentioned in the article, it shows the vulnerability of the food supply to GPS disruptions.

What Else to Know:

  • See the mention about commodity markets spiking. We will be interested to see if that happens. Our guess is it will.
  • The article refers to other GPS disruptions and the impact on farmers.
  • For more on GPS and solar weather, search our site for “solar” or “sun.”


Solar Storm Knocks Out Farmers’ Tractor GPS Systems During Peak Planting Season

The solar storm that brought the aurora borealis to large parts of the United States this weekend also broke critical GPS and precision farming functionality in tractors and agricultural equipment during a critical point of the planting season, 404 Media has learned. These outages caused many farmers to fully stop their planting operations for the moment.

One chain of John Deere dealerships warned farmers that the accuracy of some of the systems used by tractors are “extremely compromised,” and that farmers who planted crops during periods of inaccuracy are going to face problems when they go to harvest, according to text messages obtained by 404 Media and an update posted by the dealership. The outages highlight how vulnerable modern tractors are to satellite disruptions, which experts have been warning about for years.

“All the tractors are sitting at the ends of the field right now shut down because of the solar storm,” Kevin Kenney, a farmer in Nebraska, told me. “No GPS. We’re right in the middle of corn planting. I’ll bet the commodity markets spike Monday.”