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Swedish tractors steered by Russian statelites

Published lördag 1 november 2014 kl 13.45
Harvesting our food. But who is steering? Photo: Mari Winarve/Sveriges Radio

Farmers in Sweden are using machines steered by military satelites run by Russia and the USA.

Johan Marinsson represents a Swedish company that distributes auto-steering technology.

His company says it can take over your tractor, for example, by putting an electric motor on the steering wheel and you can then work the right part of the field with only a two and a half centimetre margin of error.

Farmers Jörgen and Sandra Andersson say to Swedish Radio they using automatically steered machines as there's just too much work for them to handle.

One job the automatic tractors can do is spreading fertiliser.

But one thing to remember is the system keeping the tractors on track are the satellites run by the Russian and US military.

The GPS system is used by millions, but is dependent on US defence funding and is controlled by the American air force.

Likewise the GLONASS satellite navigation system is run by the Russian space and military agency.

Tensions have grown between Russian and the European Union after the annexation of Ukraine's Crimea and alleged Russian intervention in Ukraine's Donbass region.

Another concern about these satellite systems is the cost.

Johan Mattisson at the auto-steering distributor says this new technology can be a money saving by only working exactly the right parts of a field, and hence saving time, and thus on wages and fuel.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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