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

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