Farmer Says Solar Storm Knocked Out GPS During Spring Planting
Ryan Rippy, who farms in West-central Indiana, says last weekend’s solar storm caused a disruption in the GPS software in his tractor during soybean planting.


 

You may have been fortunate enough to have seen the Northern Lights here in Michigan last weekend. But, the solar storm responsible for it also caused problems for farmers in the middle of spring planting.

“I fired the tractor up and went to go across the field and had an issue with the GPS,” said Indiana farmer Ryan Rippy, who says he was trying to finish planting soybeans on Friday, but wasn’t sure why the GPS in his tractor had quit working.

“I spent a couple of hours back and forth on the phone with the Advanced Farming System (AFS) technician with the local Case IH dealer, and he couldn’t really come to conclusion what the problem was,” said Rippy. “About a half an hour later, he texted me and said it’s probably related to the solar flare that was going on. He said his phone had just been blowing up in the last hour and that several other farmers that were having similar issues.”

Rippy says he temporarily hit the pause button on planting Friday because of the issue.

“Finally, I just decided to quit that day because we’re having some other issues with the planter,” he said. “We came back on Saturday and were still having the same problem. I was finally able to resolve it by creating a new field and new guidance lines with the GPS software. That seemed to solve the problem, but it was surely a frustration.”

Rippy says he was able to finish planting beans on Saturday—and had already finished planting corn the week before.

According to the NAFB News Service, one chain of John Deere dealerships had given farmers a heads-up that some of the computer systems in their tractors were “extremely compromised” from the solar storm and that farmers who had planting crops while the GPS and precision equipment were compromised may end up facing problems at harvest time.