GIS in Agriculture: Field Data Management

Tierra Plan is developing a GIS solution for agriculture field data management built around the ArcGIS platform.

An independent agriculture consultancy specializing in precision agriculture agronomy and mapping services was using a rigid proprietary software system for generating surface interpolations, prescriptions, and treatment zones. In doing so, they have collected an enormous amount of historic field data for hundreds of clients. They are also looking to looking to maximize their investment in ArcGIS and replace their other software with a GIS based solution.  While a number of other companies offer field management software for the agriculture industry, there is one common element missing from all of them: users don’t own all their data and cannot easily use it for independent analysis. Data might be the hottest commodity in agriculture right now, this recent article is a good summary.

There are a number of drawback to rigid COTS products for field management:

  • They don’t allow independent providers to own all their data.
  • GIS data stored internally and nearly impossible to use in other systems like ArcGIS.
  • Don’t allow for multi-year, multi-field analysis
  • Cost – systems with costs per acre become expensive
  • Prescriptions and treatment zones often require significant manual editing
  • Too many features and reports that aren’t useful for Crop Focus’ purposes
  • Limited spatial analysis and ad-hoc mapping
  • There is huge value in owning and analyzing data. Most other solutions and vendors don’t provide the variety of tools for geospatial analysis in ArcGIS.




Tierra Plan is developing a custom field management  solution for an independent agronomy provider built around the Esri ArcGIS platform.  Called Field Analyst, it is a scaleable GIS solution for managing and analyzing field data so growers can optimize soil treatments and yields. A suite of ArcGIS desktop tools and web maps lets agronomists and growers manage their soil data, yield, as-applied, EC data, generate nutrient maps, prescription files, management zones, and share data using online maps.

Field Analyst is an affordable alternative to expensive, proprietary systems COTS products. It greatly reduces the time to process and map each farm and field, saving time and money. Agronomists can map more acreage per year and deliver more accurate information. The system includes a complete custom designed back-end database system, desktop tools, web, and mobile user interfaces. A suite of ArcGIS Server map services and geoprocessing services are published for web and desktop users. Users are now free to analyze, report, and map all their historic data without constraints.

A typical nutrient management deliverable to a grower includes a PDF document with nutrient surface maps for pH, Ca, N, P, K, and Mg; a boundary map showing sample locations with NAIPS imagery; Lime prescription and fertilizer prescription shapefiles used by spreaders to apply variable rate treatment; and an accompanying PDF treatment rate map.  This entire process is now generated in Field Analyst and the ArcGIS platform. This offers the most flexibility in creating the surface maps and customizing the final treatment prescriptions, and results can be published to online maps.

Field Analyst Benefits:

  • Field Analyst gives growers complete ownership and control of years of data.
  • Greatly enhances ability to report and analyze data
  • Online maps and tools for sharing data and processing data from anywhere
  • Publish field data and maps available online for growers.
  • All map data stored in common, non-proprietary, GIS formats
  • Custom ArcGIS desktop tools automate the creation of nutrient surface maps, lime and fertilizer prescription shapefiles, and a custom formatted PDF map book for the grower.
  • Multi-platform: Field Analyst includes desktop tools, web maps, and we are working on a mobile app developed with the ArcGIS Runtime SDK for Xamarin.
  • NDVI imagery integration and tools for generating treatment zones from NDVI
  • Electrical conductivity (EC) maps
  • Create yield maps and analyze yield data
  • Easily create management zones from soil surveys, NDVI imagery, and yield data.
  • Integration with external data such as:
  • A well designed data model, relational database and storage architecture for all their non-spatial client data, GIS data, and raster surfaces. The database allows easily searching and finding historical data for GIS analysis and reporting; migrating all historical data; supporting a multi-platform interface architecture including web maps, mobile maps, and the desktop tools.
  • Web maps allow farmers to view their field data online, including nutrient surface maps, lime and fertilizer prescriptions, yield, as applied data, population maps, NDVI and NAIPS imagery.
  • Analyze years of historical data and identify patterns in crop production decisions and inputs vs. yield. Growers can identify patterns such as correlation between yields, and soil nutrients, soil types, varieties, populations, and other crop inputs such as lime and fertilizer particular field year by year.

Web based map interfaces allow growers to view fertility maps, download prescription files for Variable Rate spreaders, and more.


Lime prescription treatment map.










Tap In – Mapping US Army Europe Training Resources Online

Web mapping tool provides user-friendly means of locating and exploring training resources for US Army soldiers in Europe and Africa.


TAP IN: web based map application for the US Army Europe

Tap In: web based map application for the US Army Europe

Tap In is an online map application developed for the US Army Europe (USAREUR) 7th Army Training Command (7ATC). Hosted and administered by the USAREUR Sustainable Range Program (SRP) under the 7ATC Directorate Training Support Activity Europe (TSAE), Tap In is designed to be a one-stop-shop for training support resources. Using a map interface, soldiers and planners can find information on over 800 facilities and training areas across the European and African theatres. Powered by the Army-accredited Enterprise Information System known as the Army Range Mapper (ARM), the map-centric interface provides soldiers and planners rich content from numerous disparate data sources and document repositories. Overlays and location information are integrated with numerous other sources, including aerial imagery, scheduling information, a document repository, and public data services such as those offered by DigitalGlobe, NOAA, and Natura 2000. Partnering with USAREUR SRP, Tierra Plan has played a key role in developing and supporting Tap In since its emergence in 2012.

Through the map interface, users can search for training areas and facilities, view location-specific information, download related PDFs (such as Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), handbooks, topographic maps, access maps).  Users can also share lessons learned and “TTPs”: Tactics, Techniques and Procedures. Tap In provides training units the ability to view current and future schedules of US controlled training facilities thanks to integration with the Range Facility Management Support System (RFMSS). By requesting real-time data from RFMSS, planners can view scheduling information for any facility, installation or one of TSAE’s Training Support Centers (TSC) registered in the system.

Scheduling data from RFMSS

Calendar search for viewing facility scheduling data from RFMSS.

Sharing and Integration

A key feature of Tap In is that it can be shared and easily embedded in other applications such as SharePoint sites and web portals hosted on the Army’s network. Embedding Tap In in a SharePoint site is super easy: users simply copy a snippet of code from a Share Feature tool, much like embedding a YouTube video, and plug that into their SharePoint site. Feature can also be shared via email links or URL shortcuts. Tap In is engineered to be smart and detect a SharePoint implementation: when it is embedded in another application, some richer content and advanced tools are not loaded, ensuring that the map is fast and fits within a smaller window.

Share content feature

A Share Feature tool allows users to share features with other users or embed in other applications like SharePoint.

Resource Library

Additional training resources linked from the map are found in the Resource Library: a large document repository consisting of thousands of files within a folder hierarchy the user can easily navigate. Resource Library content is integrated with the map interface, eliminating the need to open other applications or search other websites for documents. Users can also share a Resource Library folder with other users, or save a folder for future reference.

Tap In Resource Library

Training resources integrated in the map interface include the TSAE Resource Library.

Design and Technology

Tap In is entirely web based and the interactive mapping interface is available to anyone on the US Army Europe network. It has a very clean and intuitive design, requiring minimal user inputs and a focus on the map. Built around the ESRI platform to run on Microsoft IIS and ASP.NET, Tierra Plan used the Esri JavaScript API and ArcGIS for Server platform, and jQuery for enhanced user experience. Data from an Oracle scheduling system (RFMSS) and the Resource Library document repository are provisioned through secure web services, and displayed in content windows on the map for a selected facility or installation.

An embedded, lightweight database contains configuration rules and data for all facilities, TSCs, and installations. The embedded database makes Tap In easy to deploy to other units and servers throughout USAREUR, and it simplifies deployment by eliminating the need for connecting to and external database platform on another server.

search map content

Easily search map content for training locations.

For more information on US Army in Europe

Getting started with the ArcGIS Runtime SDK for Xamarin in Visual Studio

Xamarin emulator fails to make an appearance

I was excited by the recent announcement by Microsoft that Xamarin would now be included with Visual Studio. Microsoft bought Xamarin (the company) recently and packaged it into the Visual Studio 2015 installer. That turned an expensive option for mobile application development into one that is reachable for smaller operations.  And even better for us GIS developers, this makes the
ArcGIS Runtime SDK for Xamarin a more viable platform for mobile map applications.

I installed VS 2015 with the Xamarin extensions. Then I went to the Xamarin site and found the quick startup tutorial. I downloaded the sample Android app, loaded it into Visual Studio following the tutorial, hit the Run/Debug button, and…nothing.

The application appeared to compile alright, no errors displayed at all, but no emulator opened. Visual Studio went back to its smug coding mode rather than stay in debugging mode.

I tried all kinds of things off and on over the next couple of weeks in my spare time. I poked around in the Android emulator manager, where I could start up the emulator, but it wouldn’t connect to the app. I did online searches of course, but no one seemed to have the same problem. Wow, I must be making some dumb mistake.

FINALLY, I stumbled on the answer: in Visual Studio, click Build – Configuration Manager (or the dropdown for “Any CPU” and then Configuration Manager), and in the dialog, check the Deploy checkbox for the app (TaskyAndroid). Once I did that, running the application actually ran through the full build and the emulator popped up on its own. The app runs pretty slow on the built-in Android emulator. It’s quite a bit faster on the Xamarin Android Player, which I installed from Xamarin’s website.

Xamarin Configuration Manager

Posted on May 18, 2016 by Bryan Baker under Programming

Colorado Springs Historic Map Explorer Launched

Tierra Plan LLC just launched an interactive map site called the Colorado Springs Historic Map Explorer. We assembled a collection of twenty-four historic maps provided by the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum and put them online. These fascinating maps are now available in this easy-to-use website for anyone who wants to explore the history and landscapes of the Colorado Springs region.  There are all kinds of interesting things to find here.

This site is a contribution to the community. We feel it is important for people to engage in the history of where they live. Tierra Plan is a Colorado Springs company that develops web mapping technology, so we figured we’d do something cool with our technology for the city.  Please explore these historic maps, share with your friends, and encourage kids and students to explore. We will add more maps to the online collection as time goes on.

Here’s how it works

Historic Map How To

How to use the Colorado Springs Historic Map Explorer

  • Open the map site:
  • A timeline with historical map links is located at the bottom. Drag the time line left and right to see the map collection.
  • Click the year for a map you are interested in. For example, start with the 1885 Manitou Springs map, it’s really cool.
  • The classic Manitou Springs map will appear, and an information window will open at the left.
  • Zoom in and pan to observe details in the map. Zoom by double clicking the center of the map, or use the plus/minus control at the upper right.
  • Use the transparency slider to compare the historic map to the current map underneath.
  • Click Change Historic Map to re-open the timeline and select another map. Or use the tab with the green arrow.
  • Change the base map to satellite imagery using the base map tool at the upper right.

How did we do this?

Original paper maps from the museum archives were digitized as part of a larger project called the Story of Us.  You can read more about that project here or by contacting the museum. The digitized maps were then georectified by our friends at UCCS.  That’s a big word for the process of aligning the original map to a real coordinate system on earth so it aligns with other maps. Next, we tiled every map into thousands of tiny images so they will load quickly when you zoom in and out at different levels (this is same thing Google does with its online maps). We created this website using some of our web mapping technology, a database with information about each map and hosted it our servers for you to enjoy.

Contact us with questions, and enjoy the maps.


Posted on April 18, 2016 by Kevin Knapp under Events, News

New Tap In version released with DigitalGlobe EV Imagery

Tierra Plan is excited to announce we just delivered the latest version of the JMTC TAP IN web mapping application to the US Army Europe (USAREUR) Joint Multinational Training Command (JMTC) see it here.

About Tap In

Tap In is an Army-accredited map based application for JMTC users to search and explore over 300 U.S. and foreign controlled training areas and facilities across Europe and Africa. Users can search for locations and training areas on the map.  Powered by the Army Range Mapper (ARM),  the Tap In map interface provides soldiers and planners rich content from a numerous disparate databases and document repositories. From the map, users can search for training areas and facilities and view location-specific information, download related PDFs (such as Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), handbooks, topographic maps, access maps) and share lessons learned, tactics, techniques and procedures. Tierra Plan has been developing and supporting Tap In and the Army Range Mapper (ARM) for JMTC for nearly four years.

DigitalGlobe EV Imagery

One of the most interesting new features we implemented in the latest version is the DigitalGlobe Enhanced View Web Hosting Service (EVWHS) imagery. EVWHS is a National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) sponsored program that provides easy access to hundreds of millions of

tapin digitalglobe

DigitalGlobe’s new EV imagery service provides the most recent imagery mosaics to TAP IN users.

square kilometers of DigitalGlobe sub-meter, orthorectified satellite imagery products for US Government users, in a variety of formats, accessed within hours from collection. The EV imagery service is available for military users and applications such as Tap In.  We added two custom imagery mosaic base map options using the EV data: a “most recent” layer that in some cases has imagery collected within 24 hours, and a “most recent cloud free” layer.  DigitalGlobe does a nice job of exposing the data through a number of methods and web service endpoints.  We are using their WMTS (web map tile service) protocol.


Tap In is continually becoming a richer resource of information for JMTC users from the US and our allies.  Other new features in the latest release include an enhanced document Resource Library with sharable links to documents and folder, improved tools for viewing data layers and map overlays, and a refresh function for updating external map services such as NOAA wind speed and Natura 2000 Directive Areas.

Posted on April 17, 2016 by Kevin Knapp under News