The geomagnetic storm is a nightmare for farmers relying on precision agriculture tech

Space weather is known to cause disruptions to GPS and communications systems, and perhaps no one is feeling those headaches more than farmers this weekend. reports that an increase in solar activity over the past few days has caused interruptions in the GPS navigation systems that guide some modern tractors from John Deere and other brands. The technology allowed farmers to plant more efficiently in ultra-tight, straight lines, but they were advised to temporarily stop using it because of the potential for inaccuracies that could lead to errors during harvest.

John Deere tractors are connected to Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) systems. 404 reports that allow precise cropping down to the centimeter level. If farmers were to plant without their usual precision, when it came time to tend and harvest, “we would expect the AutoPath lines would not be where they thought the rows would be,” said Landmark Implement, owner of some John Deere dealerships. 404 Media.

The timing is terrible — it’s peak planting season for corn, and one Nebraska farmer, Kevin Kenney, said. 404, “Right now all the tractors are sitting on the edge of the field, shut down due to the solar storm.” Many farms have had to stop planting, while others are just hoping for the best.

The geomagnetic storm we’re currently experiencing is the strongest in 20 years, and on Friday and Saturday morning it reached a G5 level, which is considered “extreme”. Later it died for some but expected Sunday evening when some intense but slower-moving coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from the sun reach Earth. It’s great but not so much if your livelihood depends on storm-intruded technology.

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