Google Earth Is Powerful Tool For Farms/Farmers (Jan 07, 2013)

An independent soil scientist and hydro-geologist says farmers can greatly benefit from learning to use Google Earth technology.

Noel Anderson, of Madison, Wis., is passionate about the value of Google Earth – an Internet-cloud-based Global Information Systems resource.

Anderson, who has a bachelor’s degree in Soil Science, a master’s degree in geology, and post-master’s studies, offers a free two-hour webinar on the use of Google Earth via the website.In his webinars, Anderson talks about the need to help farmers see how many factors simultaneously go into managing a farm.

Want to see the depth of bedrock across your farmland? Want to find the best location for a new well? Want to understand the complex array of land use decisions on your farm, or learn about changes in aquifers, streams and lakes within your watershed?
Google Earth can help find these answers, and more.

Anderson’s career included serving as a soil scientist with the Purdue/USDA Accelerated Soil Survey, a supervisor for Indiana’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and a hazardous waste hydro-geologist. He also served as a private consultant for more than 20 years.

He provides consulting and uses Google Earth software solutions to help farmers make more complete and efficient decisions.He’s found Google Earth gives farmers the opportunity to graphically see the mapped relationships between several issues at once.He also sees the program as a foundation to organize spatial information occurring from tasks.

“The reality is all you need do is locate it on the planet, and associate an action to the planet and the information to act on the planet,” he said. “This information can be delivered today – not in some hypothetical tomorrow – everything about farm management and bigger perspectives about the foot print of the farm – on Google Earth.

“There isn’t anything that wouldn’t fit (into Google Earth) if upfront planning is involved.”
During Anderson’s webinar, he tells farmers how they can use software products including Soil Web from the California Soil Resource Lab, Geothermal Mapping from the Enhanced Geothermal Systems, and Carbon Index from the National Energy Technology Laboratories with Google Earth.

To take full advantage of Google Earth, Anderson encourages farmers to purchase the Google Earth Pro application for about $400 – but farmers can learn about it with the free version.

By purchasing Google Earth Pro, the user can use external images in reports and presentations displayed outside the farm. The Pro version also allows the user to import a larger array of data types and images, and access many layers of data.
The newest version, Google Earth Pro 7.0, allows the user to calculate distances and find circumferences. It provides easy measurements as well as 3D measurements.

Google Earth has identified uses for its Pro application within architecture and engineering, real estate and insurance, energy and utilities, media, government, defense, nonprofits and educators. People like Anderson have identified the recognition of applications within agriculture.

He says that too often, farmers use information out of context – like three blind men touching the elephant and thinking the entire elephant is a tusk, a trunk or a tail.

“What we are talking about is context,” he said. “It’s also at how you arrive at that context – and the impediments to trying to understand things, simply by the way we process information.

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