by Jesse Bussard
You cannot manage what you do not measure. It’s one of my favorite sayings.
To run a successful and profitable ranching enterprise one must be able to observe, plan, monitor, evaluate, and adapt the resources under their management in an ever-changing world.
By far, ranching’s largest managed resource is land. While the end goal may be to produce a calf or a pound of beef, it is important to remember that it all starts on the land. Ranch mapping plays a vital role in allowing ranch managers to manage this resource effectively.
In our modern era, technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS) are available to land managers to assist in mapping. GIS allows for displaying of land based information using map pictures, while GPS records location data. While these technologies have proven useful to those in the farming and ranching industries over the years, for many, the expense and necessary expertise, to apply them still poses a challenge.
In a recent conversation I had with Charley Orchard of Land EKG I learned that it is possible to use a rather simple, user-friendly computer application, Google Earth (GE), to do many of the same things and more that GIS and GPS are capable of. Orchard believes that GE’s affordability — free — and relative ease of use truly makes it a management game-changer for ranchers. Orchard says in less than a few hours of training, anyone can learn to map.