It is essential to have accurate maps in any farming enterprise, particularly if you are planning to do precision farming.

Other times when you will be grateful to have maps are when you are:

  • planning aerial crop-spraying
  • determining the potential of land
  • applying pesticides
  • ordering seed and fertiliser
  • wishing to insure your crops hiring or renting land
  • when planning time periods for grazing
  • having overhead installations done e.g. power cables
  • estimating crop yields
  • determining crop suitability
  • searching for breeding stock

Geographical Information Systems (GIS), a system of synthesising information, uses maps and ortho rectified photography as inputs to generate data (ordinary photographs can lead to inaccuracies and GIS is about measurement). Other systems of mapping include the use of satellites and Topo-cadastral mapping.

See also the “Drones”, “Digital agriculture” and “Precision farming” pages.

Role players



Your nearest agribusiness (e.g. VKB or OVK) will be involved in mapping and Geographical Information System, helping you to access farm and regional maps. Find contact details on the “Agribusiness” page.

  • AgriSig™ c/o 018 633 1000
  • Cape EAPrac Tel: 044 874 0365
  • See the Drones page. One function of drones is mapping the layout of lands and property.
  • EWheels
  • ESRI South Africa Tel: 011 238 6300 
  • Farm-IT Tel: 083 653 6244
  • Geographic Information Management Systems (GIMS) – see ESRI South Africa
  • GeoSpace International Tel: 012 348 4586
  • GISCOE (Pty) Ltd Tel: 010 410 0100
  • GeoTerraImage Tel: 012 807 9480
  • Hotsure Tel: 0861 468 873
  • JEC Environmental Services Tel: 033 940 0450 Included in their offerings is GIS Services (layouts, land use maps, Visual Impact Assessments etc)
  • Land Resources International (Pty) Ltd Tel: 033 392 8360 Derived from leading edge airborne remote sensing technology, LRI’s Outline Imagery™ provides growers with vital crop performance information. Recurrent crop problems can be tracked over time, allowing for cost-effective containment and solution-planning.
  • MAPCO Plaaskaarte Tel: 017 712 1075
  • Optron Tel: 012 683 4500
  • Precision Mapping Tel: 033 330 5755 / 082 445 1561 precisionmapping at
  • PROMEET Michiel Theron – 082 802 2442 or email promeet [at] Surveying of farms and Contours, water conservation on lands. 30 years of experience [in 2020]
  • SiQ Tel: 012 807 9460
  • Southern Mapping Company Tel: 011 467 2609 Agricultural potential mapping, alien vegetation mapping, soil mapping, soil erosion risk assessment, elevation mapping
  • Terragis Tel: 076 371 1151
  • TNH Wildlife Tel: 082 890 9993 / 074 114 8651 tnhfence at Maps created using “the latest GIS technology”

Parastatal and government

ARC-Soil, Climate and Water (ARC-SCW)

Tel: 012 310 2500

iscw [at]


GIS: data processing (data capturing and projections); applications (crop modelling, spatial modelling / interpolation, multi-layer modelling); spatial database development (Informix, MS Access) and data integration


Satellite & Airborne Remote Sensing: low-level imaging (digital multispectral video camera, precision farming information); digital image processing (geo-referencing, image classification); image interpretation (vegetation mapping & monitoring – population dynamics, degradation mapping, rangeland ecology, savanna ecosystems, crop inventories, drought monitoring, land cover, soil mapping and conservation planning); sample frame statistics (area / point); disasters (flood mapping; drought monitoring; fire mapping).


The Council for Geosciences (CGS)

Tel: 012 841 1911


A modern Drawing Office produces a wide variety of geoscientific maps using both conventional and electronic cartographic technologies. The production procedures are increasingly automated, linked to the ARC/INFO-based GIS, which facilitates rapid map production and updating. The CGS actively participates in a variety of SADC projects aimed at promoting the economic development of the African sub-continent.


Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)

Tel: 012 841 3697


Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD)

Earth observation technologies and geographic information systems, spatial modelling and scenario planning are all listed as “Key Strategic Areas and thrusts” in DALRRD’s National Agricultural Research and Development Strategy. Find the document on


National Geo-spatial Information (NGI)

Tel: 021 658 4300

sales [at]


The NGI provides extensive mapping coverage of the country. A look at “Products & services” on the NGI website will show what is available. Maps can be purchased over the Internet or by contacting them directly.


Chief Surveyor General

Tel: 012 326 8050,


Spatial Planning and Land Use Management

Tel: 012 312 9834


Provincial contact details can be found on the website


Department of Water and Sanitation


Ground water maps. A list of contacts can be found on the website


Accurate records based on the soil type, rainfall, typography and climate on individual farms are kept by Provincial Departments of Agriculture.


South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

Tel: 021 799 8738


SANBI has established the B-GIS Unit to provide biodiversity maps to the public via the internet. This project is done with Cape Action for People and the Environment (CAPE)


Western Cape Department of Agriculture

Decision Support Services

Tel: 021 808 5088


Read about the Web Mapping Application, CapeFarmMapper, on the website.


Africa Land-Use Training


Africa Land-Use Training offers a four day course on basic farm planning. Learners who successfully complete this course should be able to:


  • assess and collect data on natural resources on a farm;
  • do basic map reading;
  • draw a farm map showing land capability units;
  • do a basic infrastructure development plan for a farm.

Some of the Agricultural Colleges do short course training in map reading along with practical exercises involved with the different lectures. Find their details in the “Agricultural education and training” chapter.


North-West University Potchefstroom Campus Unit for Environmental Science and Management Tel: 018 285 2267


NOSA Agri Tel: 087 286 9298


Training and/or training materials are available. Of relevance to this chapter is the Farm Planning Module. Along with mapping it looks at factors affecting production, interpretation of aerial photographs , land capability classification, crop planning, livestock planning etc.


The Universities cover mapping and Geographic Information Systems in course work. Find their details in the “Agricultural education and training” chapter. At the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), for example, has a GIS and Earth Observation group housed in the Geography Department. See

Other role players

Websites and publications

Visit the websites listed earlier in this chapter.

  • The Council for Geosciences (CGS) hosts the largest Geological Library and Information Service in Africa, “which continuously strives to improve its coverage of African geology”, in the form of books, journals and maps. Information products is made available, both in standard analog and electronic formats and Internet solutions for optimal information access are being developed.
  • provides a useful SA business directory and online, zoomable, interactive maps of SA that can be printed or e-mailed to a friend.
  • Spot your farm – or anywhere else – from outer space: visit, or
  • Read about the RapidEye five-satellite, geospatial information system at
  • – Open Forum on Participatory Geographic Information Systems and Technologies
  • Read about the production of a training kit focusing on participatory mapping practice, done by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA) at
  • USGS Global Visualization Viewer (GloVis) –
  • Read “Online mapping to reduce the cost and risk of investing in Africa’s agriculture”, Africa AgriLeaders Issue 2 2017. Available at

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