Biological Systems Engineering


Date of this Version



Published (as Chapter 8) in GIS Applications in Agriculture. Volume Two. Nutrient
Management for Energy Efficiency, D. E. Clay and J. F. Shanahan, eds.
(Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2011), pp. 135-146. Used by permission.


In site-specific crop management, It is a common practice to log the geographic coordinates of agricultural machinery measured using a global satellite navigation system (GNSS) such as the global positioning system (GPS). Yield, fertilizer application, and seed placement maps provide useful data for making agronomic decisions. However, the travel path itself reveals valuable information about machinery performance. Often, during field operations, odd field shapes, obstacles, or contour farming will require operators to increase the complexity of the machinery maneuvering. This usually reduces field efficiency. This chapter presents a methodology to parameterize the spatially variable characteristics of traffic patterns, and to define field areas where field efficiency is significantly reduced. Geographic positions recorded during the harvesting of a field with a complex shape are provided to illustrate the method developed. The information obtained can be used to optimize traffic patterns, or to reevaluate the potential profitability of field areas that require different degrees of complexity in machinery maneuvering and therefore require varying energy use.