How To Use OptiSurface Designer With John Deere iGrade Plane Control

Watch the video below to learn how to use OptiSurace Designer with iGrade.


Hi. It's Graeme Cox here, co-founder of OptiSurface.  I'm going to give you a quick demonstration on how to use OpiSurface with John Deere iGrade.

John Deere iGrade by itself can only do plane control, which means it can follow a plane or flat surface like this.  If you want to do curved 3-dimensional surface that OptiSurface specialize in then you need another add-on system.  If you're interested in that, we can advise there.

But in this example, I'm going to look at using OptiSurface with the plane control native feature that iGrade has.  We got this field here and we've split it up into three boundaries. To split the boundary, you can right click on it, go 'Split Boundary'.  I'm going to split this boundary here - right click and select click boundary, click it there and click there.  And once we've split it then we can design each boundary separately.  So we have our boundaries here and I can calculate and set a Main Slope Direction so this would be my furrow direction.  And Grid Spacing and I can set up some Minimum / Maximum Slope requirements and then click Calculate. 

So that will go and calculate a flat surface like this, planar surface.  And I've also done that for the three boundaries.  Down the bottom here you get the Summary Result - your area, earthworks volumes.  I'm going to focus on this large one, when you click on these results, so click on that one there.  I wouldn't worry about those two (Main Slope and Cross Slope) as it's easier to work with iGrade using this number here - Composite Slope.  This is saying the slope is 0.24% in the direction of 288.848.  So this is the composite slope made up of these two slopes combined.  That 288 will be in this direction here, basically perpendicular to these contour lines.  The steepest slope is in this direction, that's 288.848 and it's slope is 0.24%.  So enter those numbers into iGrade.

So if we go here, we go Single Slope Entry then we can enter the slopes: 0.240 in the example I gave just then and the direction is 288.848. So put this in the slope and put this in the direction. And now I drive to an area of 0 cut/fill which is, we turn ON our Cut/Fill Map, the green area. So I drive to one of these areas for about a minute and set the Plane Origin and that will set the Cut/Fill to that elevation. 

Then I drive around this field while the iGrade system is in AUTO: Plane Active and AUTO controller and in these green areas the blade should be just brushing the ground. In these yellow areas it should be cutting.  I'd start cutting a bit and drop some soil come back through here, and at this point here, it should start to touch the ground and it should start to cut and then go out of AUTO to lift the blade up and take the soil over here and then drop it somewhere here.  Comeback through here and it should start brushing the ground here somewhere and I can take some more cut here and drop it over here.  Basically, weave around this area a few times doing some cutting and filling until I'm comfortable that the plane design specified in the iGrade system is matching the Cut/Fill Map here that I'd expect. 

Once I'm happy with that, I can get to work.  If there seems to be a vertical offset that you think you need to lower it a bit to match up better, then you can use the shift offest up or down to nudge the design surface up and down to get the Cut/Fill Map to match up a bit better.  And then obviously, once I've done the earthworks on this section here, then I would move on to the next section and get the slopes for that boundary, enter them into iGrade and work that field there.

Just to explain a bit more about our curved designs, I've done an example here using OptiSurface 1Way design with some slopes and some smoothing on it.  You can see the Proposed Topography, you can actually see it is a curved surface.  If we look at the profile across the field, we will actually see how the blue line (Proposed Topography) is actually a curved surface.  The vertical scale is exaggerated but the benefit of the curved surface is it can follow the natural topography much more closer than trying to fit these straight line planes over long distances.

You can't implement these curved surface designs with iGrade by itself.  You need another third party package that sits on top of iGrade to control it or you don't need iGrade at all.  If you don't have iGrade purchased, there are options to not use iGrade at all and just have a machine control system that works with John Deere GPS say. 

If you have iGrade and just want to use it for Single Plane stuff, that video I just recorded shows you how to do it.  If you have any questions, please email us at or give us a call, see our contact details at at the top right.

OK. Thank you for your time.

Graeme Cox
OptiSurface Co-founder

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