Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Free aerial photos of your farm or ranch available online

By David Burton
University of Missouri Extension

Whether you’re a landowner, a hunter, an outdoor enthusiast, there is a useful and free resource available via the Internet from the University of Missouri’s Center for Agricultural, Resource, and Environmental Systems.

According to Wesley Tucker, agriculture and rural development specialist, University of Missouri Extension, people who have Internet access can download aerial photographs of anywhere in Missouri.

“This resource comes in handy in a variety of ways. Maybe you’re scouting a piece of property for hunting or just want a picture of your own land from above,” said Tucker.

In addition to aerial photographs, the website also offers other data like topography, watersheds, geology, census information, crop and livestock numbers.

To access the maps, go to http://maproom.missouri.edu then click on the Interactive Maps box and go through the three step process.

Step 1 is to “Specify the Area of Interest” by putting in the township, range and section of the property you are looking for or by simply selecting the county where the property is located.

“Once the map is created, begin zooming in on the exact property you want to see,” said Tucker.

Step 2 is to “Select the Data Layers” where the user can even limit aerial maps to roads and highways or cities and towns.

Then move to Step 3 to “Verify Your Selections.” If tab three lists everything you want to see, click on the Make Map button to the right.

“Depending on your connectivity speed it may take some time to create the map. But, once on the screen you can use the zoom in button to begin finding your exact piece of property using the cities, roads and highways as guides. Once you zoom in to more than a 1:5000 ratio, the picture will begin to blur,” said Tucker.

However, this level of magnification is still strong enough to identify specific trees in your yard or use the distance button to draw a line down your driveway and measure the distance in feet.

“Whatever your interests, this resource can be helpful in finding out information about a specific piece of property. With deer season coming soon, zooming out a little further to show the stands of timber or water sources in the surrounding area will be very helpful in indentifying deer movements and where to locate that perfect stand,” said Tucker.

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