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It is essential to have accurate maps in any farming enterprise, particularly if you are planning to do precision farming.

Other times when you will be grateful to have maps are when you are:

  • planning aerial crop-spraying
  • determining the potential of land
  • applying pesticides
  • ordering seed and fertiliser
  • wishing to insure your crops hiring or renting land
  • when planning time periods for grazing
  • having overhead installations done e.g. power cables
  • estimating crop yields
  • determining crop suitability
  • searching for breeding stock

Geographical Information Systems (GIS), a system of synthesising information, uses maps and ortho rectified photography as inputs to generate data (ordinary photographs can lead to inaccuracies and GIS is about measurement). Other systems of mapping include the use of satellites and Topo-cadastral mapping.

See also the “Drones”, “Digital agriculture” and “Precision farming” pages.

Role players

Note: Click to expand the headings below.  To get a free listing on our website like the ones below, visit here for more information or place your order hereDisclaimer: The role player listings are not vetted by this website.

Africa Land-Use Training (ALUT) – Africa Land-Use Training offers a four day course on basic farm planning. Learners who successfully complete this course should be able to: (i)assess and collect data on natural resources on a farm; (ii) do basic map reading; (iii) draw a farm map showing land capability units; (iv) do a basic infrastructure development plan for a farm.
PCI Agricultural Services – Along with mapping, the Farm Planning Module looks at factors affecting production, interpretation of aerial photographs, land capability classification, crop planning, livestock planning etc.
Council for Geosciences (CGS) – A modern Drawing Office produces a wide variety of geoscientific maps using both conventional and electronic cartographic technologies.
South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) – SANBI has established the B-GIS Unit to provide biodiversity maps to the public via the internet.

Further reference:


  • Your nearest agribusiness (e.g. VKB or OVK) will be involved in mapping and Geographical Information System, helping you to access farm and regional maps. Find contact details on the “Agribusiness” page.
  • See the Drones page. One function of drones is mapping the layout of lands and property.

Parastatal and government

  • Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) Find the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management option under “Branches” at Earth observation technologies and geographic information systems, spatial modelling and scenario planning are all listed as “Key Strategic Areas and thrusts” in DALRRD’s National Agricultural Research and Development Strategy.
  • Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) Ground water maps. A list of contacts can be found on the website
  • Accurate records based on the soil type, rainfall, typography and climate on individual farms are kept by Provincial Departments of Agriculture.


  • Some of the Agricultural Colleges do short course training in map reading along with practical exercises involved with the different lectures. Find their details in the “Agricultural education and training” chapter.
  • The Universities cover mapping and Geographic Information Systems in course work. Find their details in the “Agricultural education and training” chapter. At the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), for example, has a GIS and Earth Observation group housed in the Geography Department.

Websites and publications

Visit the websites listed earlier on this page.

  • The Council for Geosciences (CGS) hosts the largest Geological Library and Information Service in Africa, “which continuously strives to improve its coverage of African geology”, in the form of books, journals and maps. Information products is made available, both in standard analog and electronic formats and Internet solutions for optimal information access are being developed.
  • Spot your farm – or anywhere else – from outer space: visit or
  • Read about the RapidEye five-satellite, geospatial information system at
  • – Open Forum on Participatory Geographic Information Systems and Technologies
  • allows viewers to gain an aerial view of land and to zoom in digitally
  • USGS Global Visualization Viewer (GloVis) –

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