Using Google Earth Pro to Create a Map for Your Agricultural Operation

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By Justin Morris, NCAT Regenerative Grazing Specialist

Have you ever wondered how to make a digital map that can show the existing and planned infrastructure for virtually any piece of land in the world? Have you wondered how you can measure the area of a particular field or the length of a proposed fence or pipeline? Have you wondered what the elevation is at different locations? The answers to all these questions lie in getting familiar with the free tool Google Earth Pro.

Google Earth, a computer program that’s been around since 2001, is a great tool for visualizing a landscape. There are three versions of Google Earth currently available, depending on the type of device being used and the features that are needed. There are two versions of Google Earth—one is web-based and the other is for mobile devices. These two versions are not designed for creating maps that require infrastructure to be added to them. The third version, Google Earth Pro, is the full-feature version that is best for creating maps. The Pro version only works on desktops or laptops running Windows, Mac, or Linux operating systems. A high-speed internet connection is also very helpful to minimize the refresh time for aerial imagery.

Steve Gabriel with Wellspring Forest Farm in central New York released a four-part video series on YouTube that does a fantastic job showing how to create a map of a farming/ranching operation using Google Earth Pro. Following are links to each of the four videos, along with their respective run times.

Program Installation and Basic Navigation (12 mins, 35 sec)

Drawing Infrastructure, Measuring Distances and Areas (14 min 54 sec)

Making Contour Maps and Importing Soil Survey Information (18 min 22 sec)

More Applications for Farming and Ranching (13 min 39 sec)

Related NCAT Resources:

Using Web Soil Survey to Learn Your Land’s Potential

This publication is produced by the National Center for Appropriate Technology through the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program, under a cooperative agreement with USDA Rural Development. ATTRA.NCAT.ORG.