Group of people on a hillside
Group of people on a hillside

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Jenny  Walking Sheep Up Street
Jenny Walking Sheep Up Street

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Beekeepers examining a frame of bees
Beekeepers examining a frame of bees

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Group of people on a hillside
Group of people on a hillside

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  • Harriet Bell

Mapping Discussion 2

At their virtual meeting on the 16th of July the Dartmoor farmer led Advisory Team, supporting the test and trial, came to a decision about the best Land Management Plan approach for Dartmoor. This is how farmers indicate what public goods they'll be delivering on their land in order to support payment.

The team went for a farmer led mapping approach, with an accompanying scorecard system, supported by advice. So now we need to work through each of these elements to develop the detail.

These are the notes from the second Advisory Team discussion on the role of mapping which took place on Monday 27th July (notes from the first discussion are also available in our blog archive).

Prior to the meeting some examples of existing mapping systems were circulated so that the team could identify which system they would most like to work with.

Alongside that a list of all of the different existing or potential outcomes that the Team had talked about delivering through ELMs, in previous public goods discussions, was also circulated. This was to enable people to reflect on whether the mapping systems they were looking at would help them deliver these objectives.

Mapping systems to consider using, either in part or entirely, in the Dartmoor Test & Trial:

List of potential outcomes to delivering through ELMs which a Land Management Plan mapping system would need to aid in delivering/monitoring:

  • Monitor natural regeneration

  • Join up existing pockets of small woodland across a landscape

  • Identified woodland well suite to recreation

  • Determine where trees are not appropriate

  • Identify precious views

  • Manage firebreaks

  • Map rhos pasture

  • Record species, nesting sites etc.

  • Record tenancy/grazing license details

  • Show landscape designations

  • Monitor impact of dogs

  • Keep photographic evidence records

  • Share data and information between farmers working on the same common

  • Enable monitoring/recording at different times of year

  • Support farmers with shared interests around public goods delivery to work together

  • Plan grazing

  • Identify where to install ponds, and other features, for water retention

  • Use one system from home farms and commons which enables joint management of plans for both

  • Identify areas where payment for re-wetting peat is likely

  • Accurately depict all the public goods already present

  • Help farmers create a shared vision

  • Monitor erosion of soil and paths

  • Plan for planting shelter belts

  • Plan depicting infrastructure

  • record which habitats/areas benefit from which different management activities

  • Soil map/record soil testing results and applications

  • Map river crossing points/wet areas to monitor condition

  • Identify history water features and their condition

  • Identify appropriate areas to fence water courses

  • Monitor stocking rates

  • Identify opportunities for renewable energy

  • Monitor invasive/non-native species and their management

  • Monitor carbon sequestration

  • Archeology identification and management

  • Understand geology

  • Identify areas to "slow the flow" of water

  • Monitor impacts of any re-introduced species

  • Map hefts

  • Identify grazing priority areas and non-grazing priority areas within a landscape

  • Overlay firebreaks with archaeology features for efficiency of managing both

  • Map field boundaries and record condition or need for repair

  • Manage swaling

  • Deliver signage and GPS based interpretation for members of the public

  • Manage permissive access

  • Identify appropriate location for vistor facilitues e.g. gates, accessible footpaths, parking, toilets etc.

  • Experiment and trial different management approaches and record outcomes

  • Identify opportunities to work together and also with outside groups.

Advisory Team discussion:

  • Really liked the lagas mapping system because it had so much more useful data on it. A lot of the existing systems would suffice, if I wanted more detailed mapping I might be more inclined to pay for it so that I could own the data rather than someone else have ownership of it. Who decides what it is that’s on the ground that’s then interpreted, if I paid for the service I would know what’s right and wrong. A lot of the maps are vague and generalized, I want something more specific to my farm. Maybe it’s not about the mapping system that we use but what it delivers. My question is who owns the data? If I pay for it no one can challenge it. Lagas interesting what it called opportunities and it was real, relevant data that we could interpret and use. The Land App we looked at and had internet issues, it was a bit clunky. MAGIC is good enough but I used that to measure an area for fencing, I submitted it to the RPA, they measured it one the ground and I got fined because there was a discrepancy.

  • I looked at them as much as I could, they’ve all got good bits and bad bits. There wasn’t in any of them the opportunity to lay your data on top. It would be good if there was a private function and a public function. So there was a public bit relating to central data but then a private bit. We need to build in a time lag ability – capturing past information and projecting into the future.

  • Layers are really important, to formulate our own layers for our own farm and then layer it over baselines is crucial. The more layers of data we get the better as long as each layer is selectable. The lagas map was really interesting because it brought in other interesting business data and, as the industry develops, it may provide additional information to support diversification. If we could talk to local LEPs and bring in that data as well it may help supports our farm businesses.

  • I found the information in the lagas map interesting but in the current format you couldn’t layer the different data sets on top of each other. There was really good data in all of the maps. What I know about the Land App is that you could select projects and have public or private and you could control what you shared and what you didn’t. Also I felt that in Tim at the Land App there was someone who was open to helping us create what we want whereas in some of the other systems, like MAGIC, it was hard to imagine getting changes made easily.

  • It sounds to me as though everyone is on the same page of needing a fusion between national and local data. I’m currently experiencing problems with the government MAGIC system on something which I know is there but they say is not and we’re unlikely to have the time to get it changed before the submission deadline. We’re currently using QGIS so we can download all of the national data but then upload our own farm plan data as well. It also has an overview section so you can easily see what’s on each farm.

  • I haven’t had a chance to experience other than the peatland and MAGIC map but neither marry up with what’s on the ground and that concerns me because we’ll be held to account. We need a decent map with analysis to show what’s on the ground, with MAGIC the commons boundaries are different.

  • I have a number of concerns. We’ve had a range of maps and websites to view, all of which are commercially available and all of whom I believe would do as we wish. I don’t think this forum is going to be able to deliver for us a single system which will fit all of our needs and the needs of the regulator. The information is already there it’s just how it’s held. It’s going to become more transparent what we’re doing, whether we like it or not, given satellites and drones etc. So the question is when and how are we going to be able to progress this which covers all of the statutory stuff and any additional features. The baseline is what is the information the regulator will be happy with. What I do know as a group we need to be far clearer as to what it is we’re looking to identify and what it is we need and also if Defra is the paymaster what are they looking for. What are going to be the eligible areas so that we can start this. I don’t think any one of these systems actually delivers what is required.

  • We need to map a particular scale, if it’s too far out it’s meaningless if it’s too far in it’s meaningless. A lot of people outline the problems with MAGIC which I think is right, they tend to enable you to map things you can evidence you have retrospectively but that means farmers may miss out. Defra are not going to allow 100 different mapping systems.

  • The question is what is the breadth that Defra is prepared to support, how much do we need to include? Ts there going to be a point when the RPA can look down at stocking densities in which case we need the criteria, then potentially bring in all the other social economic models. We just need to be clear.

  • We should give a loose response and Defra should accept the compatibility and suitability of the what we provide. The ground truthing is important and that can only be done at a farm level and where we pay for it. We also need to differentiate between a static mapping system and observational data gathering. I think we need to explore outside of currently where we are with the mapping and look at what the arable boys are doing. We have to find what we want and it might be something outside of this exercise, it may be a pure management tool.

  • What concerns me is that if a mapping system is flawed it’s only as good as the information that’s gone into them. Unless we have an opportunity to look at the information going in we can’t trust that system, for example the peat map has drains and erosion where I know there’s not drains and erosion. The only map I trust is the basic OS map.

  • Providing we can ground truth it that’s what we should start from. It’s having a definitive map and who is going to have it or are we going to be classed as someone whose map is unreliable. It comes down to the difference between anecdotal evidence and scientific evidence.

  • We can focus on what we want from the mapping system, then identify at a practical level what we want to see.

  • The lines on the map, having numbers everywhere tend to be a tool we get beaten with so we’ve said this before but it needs to be simple and easy to use because we could get bogged down in detail. Not saying that’s not important at a farm level but that’s the private stuff, what goes into the claim needs to be very simple.

  • We aren’t going to find the system that’s perfect, a lot of this information is going to come out as we draw up the management plan. The other thing is I think there is a big difference between mapping your farm and mapping the common, getting detailed mapping for the common is going to be difficult. Buying the detailed data or flying drones costs a fortune, we looked at it for Common Cause and we had to give up, the cost of detailed mapping on commons.

  • All the maps we looked at drew down data that’s already in the public domain. So then we ask ourselves how much data do we need? Is there a cost benefit to us for minor habitat features? There’s a sweet spot between the cost and the benefit we get back.

  • If you go back to the FEP’s, everyone who did them went out and walked it to ground truth it, is that so bad?

  • I’m very happy to fly my drone and then trudge around a bit. Things I think we should be including: GPS is essential, we need the layers, I like to be able to drop and label pins, photos are helpful with coordinates, I like easy acreage measurers, I like to be able to record animal movements, also I think the movement of water is really important on the maps in the context of future payments.

  • I would just like to remind everybody that we’re still sending out paper copies for BPS claim forms because we have a duty of care to our whole farming community. Most people can manage an OS map and then they can add more detail.

  • We need to make sure legends and colours can be easily read by everyone.

  • It seems to me that there’s two different systems we could be talking about here. A higher scale mapping showing public goods, excepting that they’re not perfect and may need some data cut out or corrected. Mapping at a correct scale would help with landscape scale working. FEP were fantastic in their day, although they did then become unwieldy, and that process could be used to refine data for a farm scale.

  • I agree with that it needs to be simple but I’m fearful that it isn’t going to be. If we start talking about mapping with other farmers firstly it’s perceived as a stick to beat us with secondly with all the money that’s been lost through mapping and re-mapping.

  • To move forward what we need to do is identify two, maybe three organisations, that are prepared to work with us on this and get proposals from two or three of the better suppliers who are prepared to work with us on developing a project so we can establish which one is going to deliver for everyone. We can identify the areas but we don’t have the software skills. Who is out there who may be prepared to work with us.

  • Wondering about compatibility and security of our data, we don’t know any of these commercial land mapping companies and the security of their data.

  • We need to have a system that’s resilient in the face of technological crisis.

  • We need a system that helps fill in any of the white spaces where there’s currently no data for Dartmoor.

  • We need to make sure that budget is used effectively as we decide how to move forward and which company to work with.

  • It’s got to be as common sense as possible, if we can get on farm and on common look at these things that are important and how we present that that’s the best way around. We need to make sure this doesn’t exclude anyone.

  • We’ve heard a lot about the Burren, I believe it would be really helpful to have a presentation on their scorecard.

The final outcome was that the Team decided they would prefer to identify the scorecard first and use the requirements of the scorecard to identify the most appropriate mapping tool.

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