(Rural Roots Canada) – Despite creating a breathtaking northern lights display across much of the country, a rare and extreme geomagnetic storm is also frustrating farmers.

Photo Courtesy: Shanyn Silinski

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a Geomagnetic Storm Warning on Friday, May 10, after its space weather forecasters observed several coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from the sun. Those CMEs will continue to strike the Earth through the remainder of the weekend and possibly into the early days of next week.

While communications disruptions have been minimal, agricultural groups on Facebook are filled with posts about widespread GPS outages affecting farm equipment across the Prairies. Many farmers use GPS receivers as a tracking or guidance system. The technology also helps by mapping field boundaries, roads, and irrigation systems.

A Saskatchewan farmer posted a photo of his field on the Saskatchewan Farmers Group Facebook page of the effort he had to put in without the GPS, noting the work done was with GPS engaged.

Photo Credit: Nathan Leier

Another stated how difficult it was to spread manure in the wake of this solar storm, calling it “a disaster.”

Over on the 204 Farmers Facebook group, Manitoba farmers say GPS service has been spotty, depending on which GPS tech they were using.

ChDp Ventures, which sells and repairs precision equipment and accessories, posted on social media that it was aware of widespread GPS outages affecting all systems due to the solar storm, and there’s nothing that can be done to prevent or remediate it until the storm subsides.

According to the NOAA Space Weather website, it’s expected several more CMEs will merge and arrive at Earth on Sunday, May 12.

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