The solar storm knocked out GPS equipment on farms — and it could happen again

Jun 05, 2024

Tanner Borsa was working his farm near Yellow Creek, Sask., last weekend when the Global Positioning System in his tractors stopped working.  

Like many farmers, Borsa pays for a premium GPS satellite signal to ensure accuracy and efficiency when he's planting seeds and spraying pesticide and fertilizer. When that signal went out on Friday night, he called his provider.

"They basically told me that it's a solar flare [and] there's nothing they can do about it," Borsa said. "They didn't really have an estimate on how severe or how long lasting the impact would be."

For Borsa, the problems continued off and on all weekend, in tandem with the powerful solar storms that brought dramatic views of the northern lights to much of Canada and the U.S.

He's not alone. Farmers across Canada and in some parts of the U.S. experienced similar GPS blackouts and malfunctions on their equipment during the weekend.

With more solar storms on the horizon and an increasing reliance on GPS across different industries, experts say the problem isn't going away any time soon.

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