Using the Lay of the Land to Let Water Drain From A Field


How can we best use the lay of the land to let water drain from a field?


Prior to 1996 we were stuck with lasers as the way to control machine blades for landforming/land grading. Lasers were a great innovation but were too rigid and constrained because not much agricultural land is shaped like a single plane (perfectly flat) in shape (Note: Dual grade laser still projects a single plane). This means lasers are not suitable for improving surface drainage on most of agricultural land because you needed to shift too much earth to achieve the surface.

Over the last 5 years GPS has become so accurate that is has become possible to shape the land surface to any 3 dimensional shape you want. We in our farming operation were looking to take advantage of this (actually since about 1996 when Spectra Precision Geostar combined low accuracy GPS with lasers) to develop a new 5000ha farm for drip and lateral move irrigation in North Queensland. 

The missing link was some computer software that could take full advantage of the new machine control hardware. When we could not find it we set out to come up with our own an that is how OptiSurface was born. Our need was to follow the natural lay of the land as closely as possible but ensure our fields drain after heavy rainfall whist moving the lowest possible amount of soil to achieve this. That's exactly what it does. 

You basically import your survey of field elevations and tell the software the surface type you want (eg for furrowed/beds cropping (must drain along furrow) or non furrowed cropping (can drain in any direction), the minimum grade and some others if you want (eg Maximum grade, smoothing factor, etc) and the software will calculate the ground surface (elevations) every say 10m (30 ft) that ensures all areas of the field are falling with at least the minimum grade towards the field boundary. You then upload that design into the 3D GPS machine control hardware on the tractor and start work.

I hope that sheds some light on how it works. Let me know if it does and if you have any other questions?

Graeme Cox
Davco OptiSurface Pty Ltd


  1. Virtual Reference Station (VRS) for OptiSurface Landform
  2. Accuracy of RTK and RTX GPS
  3. Export To Field Level .gps File From UTM Coordinate System
  4. How Often Does The Earthworks Need To Be Done?
  5. GPS Accuracy Affected by Solar Activities
  6. Is OptiSurface Compatible with John Deere?
  7. Is GPS Accurate Compared to Laser?
  8. Is Cellular RTK Networks Accurate Enough for GPS Landforming?
  9. Trimble FMX User Guide
  10. Effects of Topsoil Removal and Redistribution on Irrigated Crop Production
  11. OptiSurface Designer on Apple Computer
  12. Earthworks Conversion Chart (Metric to Imperial) & Planar/OptiSurface Comparison
  13. How to Check Your System Specification
  14. OptiSurface Designer and John Deere's APEX
  15. Designs Generated with OptiSurface Designer
  16. Legend Way Off Screen
  17. Computer Only Running at 30% of the CPU Capacity
  18. French Manual for OptiSurface Designer
  19. Introduction to OptiSurface Landforming
  20. Using the Lay of the Land to Let Water Drain From A Field
  21. The Benefits by Using OptiSurface Design Software
  22. Draining Surface Water Using OptiSurface Designer
  23. Difference Between OptiSurface Designer Software and the Trimble and Deere Solutions
  24. OptiSurface and Auto-steer GPS: Key to Cost-Effective Erosion Control
  25. 800ha OptiSurfaced for Lateral Move and Drip Irrigation
  26. The Disadvantage of Practicing Multiple Grade Designs
  27. Why You Don't Want Ditches in Your Field...
  28. Connecting Pot Holes to Drains
  29. Dongle Or Licensing System
  30. OptiSurface Designer System Requirements
  31. Hardware List Providing the Best Service and Getting the Most out of OptiSurface Designer
  32. Computer Operating Systems
  33. One or Two Scrapers
  34. Base Station Mobility
  35. Base Unit Distance with GPS Receivers On Scrappers
  36. Getting the Information to the GPS Units on the Scrapers in the Field
  37. Downloading Maps to the Equipment / Machine
  38. Implementing Designs for the Field
  39. What Machine Control Hardware is OptiSurface Designer Compatible With?
  40. Base Station and Line of Sight with the Scrapers
  41. One Base Station with Multiple Scrapers
  42. Training Topics
  43. Two Legends Visible
  44. Auto-Backup Files
  45. Speed Up the Display Graphics (eg Zooming and Panning)

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