Getting maximum Value from LiDAR Data: the Casstech Experience
One of the main impediments to the effective use of LiDAR data is the difficulty for users to get value out of the large and complex files. Casstech has overcome this problem by using Terranean’s LiDAR and orthophotography data within a low cost GIS package as a cost effective basis to designing and developing their massive agri-business enterprise.
CassTech Limited is an Australian unlisted public company which was established in 2008 to develop an integrated cassava farm, starch factory and cattle feedlot enterprise in the Burdekin region of North Queensland, with a view to exploiting projected global supply shortfalls of carbohydrate and protein. The proposed integrated agri‐industrial facility will comprise a commercial farm of 9,269 hectares with 6000 hectares cropping area, a starch factory and a feedlot holding 10,000 head of cattle.
In June 2009 Terranean carried out an integrated LiDAR and aerial photography survey over the 140 sq km project area. A one metre DEM, filtered ground points and 0.25m GSD orthophotography was supplied. The project engineers and designers had significant problems in using the large data files.
Terranean met with Farm Project Manager, Vin Sorbello, and recommended that he use the low cost GIS tool, GlobalMapper, to process and manage the survey data. Global Mapper has enabled Vin – a self confessed non-technical user – to use the data to design various types of farm infrastructure and has also enabled him to become the central information manager of the data associated with the myriad of private contractors and government agencies involved in such a large operation.
- GlobalMapper facilitated the design of the all important irrigation system. The core of this system was centre pivot irrigation which requires large circles of land that have less than 6% cross fall and do not have any significant drainage lines or other impediments to the rotating irrigation system. Cross-sections could be produced in seconds using GlobalMapper, and this together with its mapping capability enabled Vin to initiate the design of the farm irrigation system.
- Vin used the aerial photography to point out to Ergon that one of their remote backup high voltage lines was down - a fact that they were unaware of.
- An initial design for the feedlot was rejected because quick calculations using the LiDAR data in GlobalMapper indicated that the size and cost of the cut and fill excavations would have been excessive.
- Vin anticipates that the accurate vertical surface will mean a reduction in costs in GPS ground survey and base stations that will in itself cover much the cost of the LiDAR survey.
These are some of the benefits already accrued. The development of this project will also involve:
- Field formation and paddock design,
- Factory design
- Water delivery system design and construction
- Road design and construction,
- Equipment purchase,
- Environmental management including ground water management,
- Land and Water Management Plan (LWMP),
All of these tasks will require ongoing use of the LiDAR data and orthophotography.
Vin has become a proficient GIS manager with strong control of the information management of the project. The investment in LiDAR data and Global Mapper will be paid off many times over through the course of the project.
Burdekin Dry Tropics Mapping and Land Resource Management
In 2007 Terranean completed a major project to provide Burdekin Dry Tropics NRM with 133,000 sq km’s of seamless and rectified satellite imagery as a basis for their mapping and land resource management work.
To ensure that Federal government money for Natural Resource Management gets to on-ground workers in the most efficient manner, Australia has been broken up into regional bodies. Queensland has 14 of these bodies called Natural Resource Management Groups (NRM’s). The Burdekin Dry Tropics NRM covers 8% of Queensland and extends into marine waters and includes the continental islands of Magnetic Island and the Palm Group of islands. The region is highly diverse in both land-type and land-use with a large agricultural, mining and industrial base.
Australian Country Choice
Farm Mapping and ISO14001 Certification
Australian Country Choice (ACC) is a commercial success story that supplies premium and export quality beef products for the Coles supermarket chain. ACC began operations in the early 1960's and has grown to be a respected beef producer, processor, and promoter. The company processes 200,000 beef and veal carcasses per annum. Three quarters of this is for the Coles domestic market and Coles exports the remainder. Around 400 people are employed by ACC, including staff employed at all facilities and properties.
ACC prides itself on implementing world’s best practice and environmentally responsible land management. To this end, they planned to implement an ISO14001 Environmental Management System. As part of this process the Company also wanted to improve its on-ground environmental management, monitoring and, production systems.
ACC’s Research and Development Manager Paul Gibson engaged Terranean to advise on the best way to implement this challenging set of objectives. It was decided that a pilot project would be conducted on Babbiloora Station in Central Queensland, in order to bed down procedures and develop the necessary GIS expertise within ACC.
Terranean worked with ACC to develop a comprehensive GIS over Babbiloora. Public and commercial data integrated into the system included:
- Satellite Imagery
- Digital Topography
- Land systems (NRM)
- Safe Carrying Capacity (DPI)
- Regional Ecosystems (QLD Herbarium)
- Biodiversity Significance (EPA)
- Native Title (EPA)
Much of this data is highly technical and difficult to use, and so a key innovation for the project involved centralising this complex data into one location, while maintaining access to this useful information.
Combining a Landsat image with the property manager’s local knowledge produced detailed property specific information. Terranean then worked with ACC to ensure that the system was suitable for use by on-ground property managers with basic computer skills.
The system provided a convenient and effective means for ACC to lodge applications and meet legislative requirements relating to pasture improvements. The project also led to improved environmental and production outcomes. Property managers can quickly determine the biodiversity significance of different vegetation types, as well as assess a wide range of environmental factors. This enables management to accomplish long-term environmental sustainablilty.
From a production perspective, managers have access to recommended carrying capacities and GIS functions that enables them to calculate inputs into day-to-day operations, such as fertiliser application, fencing, and seed quantities.
The project was a huge success. “It was the start of a journey in using GIS throughout the whole organisation,” Paul Gibson said.
Terranean used its experience in this project and others to develop a cost-effective and standardised farm mapping product called Satellite Property Plan, which includes a series of 14 satellite images dating back to the early 1970s. The Satellite Property Plan provides a basis for distinguishing remnant vegetation from regrowth, enabling the property manager to make decisions in the context of historic trends.
United States Department of Agriculture
Soil Mapping Modernisation Project
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides national leadership on food, agriculture, and natural resources. In order to fulfil this role, it is necessary to have ready access to accurate soil information across the United States.
USDA soil mapping is currently compiled, on a county-by-county basis, into large printed atlases. Each cumbersome atlas is held at USDA County offices across the US, and because they are not in digital form, access to this useful information is restricted. In many cases the soil maps are old and in poor condition.
The USDA Soil Mapping Modernisation Project required converting old soil mapping into an accurate digital data set suitable for use in modern GIS, which would be used for soil analysis and agricultural management.
Terranean Mapping Technologies played an important role in the USDA Soil Mapping Modernisation Project. Terranean, along with a business partner in the US, developed and implemented innovative procedures to digitally capture and mosaic USDA soil maps. The soil maps were then referenced to a map projection and incorporated into a GIS. The rigorous procedures developed for this project used several off-the-shelf software programs, in addition to a considerable number of in-house programs. Of paramount importance throughout the project was the development and maintenance of relevant quality assurance procedures.
Terranean converted 1256 individual soil maps covering 23 counties across the states of Texas and Louisiana. As a result of Terranean’s strict quality assurance procedures, all soil maps met the client’s exacting standards on the first delivery. The project produced valuable export income for the company and the Australian economy.