This article discusses some of the advantages to having a printed site map of your farm. From planning planting dates to discussing tasks with employees, a large, physical map can streamline operations and improve productivity.
Benefits of a Printed Farm Map
Accurate Planning and Record-Keeping
A printed map gives a a large graphical representation of your operation. This allows you to record important dates, such as when specific areas were planted, or other information in an easy to access way. This can help with planning exact dates for chemical application or harvest for different areas. It also is a great way to record and communicate field zones based on things like soil type, moisture, pH, average yield, and other variabls. According to Rutgers University, a farm map can be helpful in making management decisions like grazing plans and crop rotations (source).
Enhanced Communication with Employees
A map serves as a graphical aid when discussing tasks with employees, making it easier to delegate responsibilities. Representing things like grazing plans, rotation strategies, and field zones on a large map can prevent mistakes and application errors.
Precise Product and Chemical Purchasing
Knowing the exact acreage of planted areas enables you to buy the right amount of products and chemicals, reducing waste and saving money. Many farmers have a rough estimate of the acreage of each field, but this may not account for boundaries or unplanted areas. Having a precise measurement of the planted area can help the purchase the exact amount of product needed, rather than purchase too much.
Photogrammetry and Drone Mapping
Most drones create maps using photogrammetry. This is a process by which the drone takes hundreds of images of the property, with overlap between each image. Advanced 3d modeling software then stitches those images together. By comparing the height above ground and measuring the angles from the drone to reference points that the software identifies in each image, the program can determine an exact "georeferenced" location in 3d space for each point in the image. These points are used to create a "point cloud." Each point may represent the real color and 3d location of a point on the ground around 1-2cm in size. These points usually have an accuracy of between 2-4cm. This means that photogrammetric mapping can achieve accuracies within an inch.
Having a printed map of your farm is a practical tool for efficient and effective farm management. It serves multiple purposes, from planning and communication to precise purchasing and task management. Having an up-to-date, highly accurate map that shows current conditions can be a key tool for managing your operation effectively.