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Extending Mobile-Mapping Beyond Field-Level Collection

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The applications of GIS to solve agricultural questions don’t stop at managing agricultural fields. Extending the application of basic web-mapping technologies to pest field surveys or noxious weeds represents an easy management strategy with a low overhead cost, using many of the free or open source options available.

Such functionalities are available through a mobile application called “Input”, which is produced by Lutra, with a plug-in called Mergin (https://public.cloudmergin.com). Once an account is set up, download and install “Input” to a mobile device (Figure 1). The free account comes with 100mb of storage, though more can be purchased. This can be fully integrated into QGIS, an open-source (free) GIS package. After downloading the plug-in, open it on an iOS or Android device and log in. From the initial screen (Figure 1), click on “Create Project.”

screen image from Mergin showing the “Create Project” menu
Photo Credit:
David Kramar
Figure 1. Initial screen from the input application.

Creating your Project
The second screen (Figure 2) allows field definition for your application.

screen image from Mergin showing Fields definition
Photo Credit:
David Kramar
Figure 2. Field Attributes screen used to define the data.

Fields can be defined as text, numbers, dates, or photos, which could include treatments or other information pertinent to field level data. Specifically, this could include information pertaining to noxious weeds such as palmer amaranth, water hemp, or kochia. This example uses noxious weeds, but the flexibility exists to set these databases up in any manner. The ability to add additional fields as required means that the applications are limited only by your imagination and overarching needs.

Populating the Database

Once the project is created, it will display in the projects folder (Figure 3).

screen image from Mergin showing the “Create Project” menu.
Photo Credit:
David Kramar
Figure 3. The new application is now available for use. Tap the cloud to upload to Mergin and bring into QGIS, or tap the name to open on your device.

Tap the project name to open the application. In this case (Figure 4) the location is centered at the Carrington REC.

screen image from Mergin showing the GPS overlay of the defined area
Photo Credit:
David Kramar
Figure 4. The GPS in your device keeps track of your location. Click “Add Point” to add a data point.

Once the GPS from your device has a good signal, simply add the point and enter the information (Figures 4 and 5).

screen image from Mergin showing the Features menu
Photo Credit:
David Kramar
Figure 5. Enter the data and click “Save”. Once saved the information can be pushed up to Mergin, and then downloaded to QGIS.

Summary

Consider how technology can be leveraged to manage data. While this example is fairly simple, these apps can be used for tasks as complex as necessary. An app like this excels in maintaining flight logs for small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) missions. Under FAA Part 107 regulations, licensed operators should be maintaining logs of all missions. This information includes location (GPS), weather conditions during flight, start and stop of flight, and a variety of other information. This drastically reduces the time required to transcribe handwritten notes into a spreadsheet or other application.

NDSU does not endorse commercial products or companies even though reference may be made to trade names, trademarks or service names.

David Kramar, Ph. D.
David.Kramar@ndsu.edu
Precision Agriculture Specialist