General Pasture

Mapping the Fence Posts

Lucky for me, there is a built-in tool in GIS software that allows points to be added along lines. I’m going to go ahead and add the points then make modifications to the fence line and posts together.

Constructing Posts:


Based on recommendation from fence vendors and manufacturers, I want the distance between posts to be no greater than 45 feet. Since I have to chose units in the same coordinate system I am using (State Plane), my input is 16 meters (~40 ft). In the “Construct Point” tool, I choose to create points based on the desired interval, not a total number of posts. Clearly you need posts at the start and end of the fence so that option is selected as well:


The fence posts will now be outputted to the blank point shapefile in which it was directed. Keep in mind that these are only the permanent fence posts!

For electric fencing, I want well-anchored wooden post for corners and galvanized steel for the line posts. The galvanized posts have an additional benefit of acting as grounding rods for the electric fence system while the braced wooden posts keep everything secure. Symbolized wood/steel posts, cleaned up fence lines and cleaned up post points yield the next iteration of my fence map:


General Pasture

Mapping the Fences

Now that the paddocks are roughly mapped out, I can start mapping the fencing. My plan is to have multiple rows of permanent fencing running north-south with an east-west gap of about 100 feet. Temporary fencing can be laid east-west and moved daily to create new paddocks. Therefore the paddock area can be adjusted if necessary by how far apart the temporary fences are spaced.

Using maps to optimize the fencing uses additional factors than just creating exact areas. Using the parcels as a basis, elevation is also factored in as the most optimal fence will follow the contours as efficiently as possible. To achieve this I downloaded LiDAR data. LiDAR is collected from an aerial source that broadcasts a laser then senses and analyzes the reflected light. It is one of the most accurate technologies to collect elevation data but it is very expensive. Luckily free LiDAR data is available for my farm, but please consider making a donation to show your appreciation if you use free LiDAR data!

Fencing can now be optimally mapped thanks to high resolution, LiDAR-based digital elevation model (DEM).


Now I can do my best to plan the fences based on my paddock area needs as well as keeping the permanent segments as straight as possible and minimizing elevation change where possible.

Fences Mapped:


There will still need to be some manual cleanup to close some ends, accommodate developments in planning and work with the trees in the pasture. Here is the starting point for you to follow along!

GIS Planning

Mapping the Farm!

My first step to analyzing the viability of my pasture was to produce a digital map. I grabbed some high resolution imagery and drew the boundaries, otherwise known as digitizing or interpreting aerial photography in the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) industry. After digitizing the pasture, an array of powerful tools are opened up to me to perform geospatial analysis.

Base Aerial Image

Base Aerial

Boundaries Drawn for Pasture



As you can see, pioneer species of trees have popped up sporadically. I’ve decided to work with them rather than against them as they have created wildlife corridors for deer. However I understand that I cannot consider the area beneath the trees as good grazing material. So my next step was to digitize the trees in GIS software, then cut them out of my pasture polygon.

Pasture with Trees Removed


Geometries like area, perimeter and anything else needed can be instantly calculated:

Acreage of Pasture (top is with trees removed)


With these basic data creation steps complete, I can move forward with more advanced analysis to plan the farm. Stay tuned!

Please don’t hesitate to leave comments if you catch any errors in my methodology, can offer feedback, have questions or would like me to perform similar GIS analysis for your property!