What is in this article?:
- GPS signals at risk
- Ground applications
A company named LightSquared owns a satellite communications network but wants to get into the more popular and profitable land-based cellular business.
Bowles uses GPS with ground applications in much the same way. “We can generate files that tell the sprayer when to turn on and off in the field. We also apply a lot of soil amendments (sulfur, potash, zinc, gypsum) by ground with large spreader trucks equipped with rate controllers and GPS. The gate on the back of the truck opens and closes at locations determined by the file I give him and the location to put the right amount of material at the locations I specify. This saves considerable material and also targets the areas of the fields to meet specific needs. No more ‘broad brush’ spreading of the entire field,” Michael said.
Bowles also relies on GPS for land reclamation.
“Using GIS and imagery, I have identified over 300 acres of under-producing spots. With GPS, I can go and analyze each of these spots and come up with a plan to target and improve them.”
Most of the spots are salty and low in organic matter. “We have been using variable rate technology (made possible with GPS) to spread compost on these spots to add organic matter. Compost is expensive, but we can apply it to only the areas that we are working on. Land in our area costs more than $6,000 per acre. I can afford to spend money on these spots to bring them back into production. I wouldn’t be able to purchase land for the cost of reclaiming these spots.”
Michael expects to expand the uses of GPS technology for equipment tracking and recovery, as well as in meeting California’s growing regulatory requirements placed on farming.
“Regulators are looking at limiting nitrogen, and, at some point, we may only be able to apply it using variable rate,” he noted. This also goes for pesticides and herbicides applied near water.
“Using variable rate, you have a record of where you sprayed and you can put in a buffer where the controller will automatically shut off the spray when it gets within a certain distance of a water body.”
None of this would be possible without a reliable, accurate GPS satellite signal. The SaveOurGPS has told the FCC that the conditional waiver issued to LightSquared would jeopardize that.
LightSquared says it does not wish to interfere with GPS signals.
To safeguard GPS, the Coalition seeks a number of remedies from the FCC, including:
1. The FCC must make it clear that LightSquared’s license modification is contingent on the outcome of a mandated study. That study must be overseen by a strong neutral observer, not by an interested party.
2. The FCC should make clear that LightSquared and their investors should not proceed to make any investment in operating facilities prior to a final FCC decision.
3. Further, the FCC’s finding that “harmful interference concerns have been resolved” must mean “resolved to the satisfaction of pre-existing GPS providers and users.”
4. Resolution of interference has to be the obligation of LightSquared, not the extensive GPS user community of millions of citizens. LightSquared must bear the costs of preventing interference emanating from their devices. GPS users or providers should not have to bear any of the consequences of LightSquared’s actions.
5. This is a matter of critical national interest. There must be a reasonable opportunity for public comment of at least 45 days on the report produced by the working group and further FCC actions on the LightSquared modification order should take place with the approval of a majority of the commissioners, not at the bureau level.
Global Positioning System (GPS) technology has become a worldwide utility affecting nearly every facet of modern day life. The free, open and dependable nature of GPS enables users such as farmers, pilots, boaters, surveyors, construction workers, hikers, delivery drivers, dispatchers, lumberjacks, police officers, firefighters, and people from many other walks of life to do their jobs. GPS has already become a critical part of our national infrastructure and practically every day there are new uses for GPS being developed.