Establishing Avocado Orchards with Reach RS - Emlid
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Establishing Avocado Orchards with Reach RS

Nowadays, many farmers are turning to GNSS-based technologies and GIS in their agriculture and farming projects, especially when it comes to landscape design. Reach receivers are quite popular in this industry because of their cost-effective yet robust performance. 

Allesbeste Farm in Tzaneen, Limpopo in South Africa, uses Reach RS for their farming tasks. Today Allesbeste implements the best farming techniques and is well-known for producing litchi, bananas, timber, and, of course, avocados. They shared their workflow on building a new avocado orchard. 

The Mission Plan

Allesbeste had a piece of land that was supposed to be used for a future orchard. The step-by-step manual for the mission was pretty easy: map the initial piece of land, see what has to be changed in the topography before planting, change it, and then plant the trees precisely according to the plan.

Allesbeste Farm before
Initial terrain. Not ideal for a whole orchard of avocado trees–yet

For mapping, they used drones and GCPs to get the exact topography of the proposed orchard site. The drone data was then passed through a model that plotted out any changes that needed to be made to the topography before planting.

Creating an Orchard Step-by-Step

The piece of land prepared for the orchard appeared to be too steep to plant avocados in straight lines. So the team decided to build terraces. It would allow the trees to get an equal amount of sunlight, rainwater, etc. 

For the first step, an aerial survey with a drone was conducted to produce a digital elevation model (DEM). This model was used to develop the plan for earthmoving and minimize erosion and tree row slopes. Based on this DEM, the team built a water flow model to see what changes had to be done to the slope. 

Flow accumulation before
The first DEM with a water flow model

The next step was actually to rebuild the slope and move the ground according to the plan. Afterward, the team performed another aerial survey. The idea was to get the ideal slope topography-wise: the right water flow pattern, even terrain steps. If something didn’t fit the requirements, the whole process of ground moving, aerial mapping, and DEM creation repeats. 

Building the terraces 

When the slope was finally satisfactory, the team proceeded with designing terraces and access roads. This process had to be coordinated with the DEM model so that the trees or roads don’t disturb the water flow. 

The plan of access roads and tree lines on the slope captured with the drone

With the help of QGIS software, Allesbeste planned the tree rows and access roads. The next step was to transfer the planned lines precisely from the QGIS plan to real ground. That’s where Reach RS was of great help. With Reach RS, the team staked out the required guidelines for the planned construction and planting. 

Avocado Orchard
Avocado Orchard
Staking out with Reach RS and building the roads
Staking out with Reach RS and building the roads
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Planting the Trees

After the terraces were built and the roads were ready, it was time to plan the tree planting. The new DEM is produced using a drone with GCPs. The GCPs were also placed using Reach RS. This new model was used to draw row lines and plot tree positions. Later these positions were staked out with Reach RS on the real site. 

Tree position
Each tree’s position was planned thoroughly 

GIS software came in handy here. Using it, the team planned how many trees could actually fit in the orchard and each row. The GIS design also contained row lines and tree positions used by the irrigation designers along with elevation data to develop an irrigation plan. The irrigation system was later ordered and installed. 

The trees were finally put in their places and ready to grow!

Precision Is a Key 

By using Reach receivers for planning the orchard, Allesbeste stayed in control of many factors that can affect the crop. Check it out: the heavy rain hit the area right after the terraces were built.


If it wasn’t for careful planning, there would be lots of pools and puddles, and the whole terrace system could have fallen apart. However, because of the precise measurements and thorough planning, the soil got enough vital water and the uncontrollable weather didn’t do any harm to the farm. 

Plus, when all the trees are planted according to the thought-through scheme, you can be sure they all get equal amounts of the required nutrients. None of the avocados were left aside!

Reach Receivers for GIS and Site Planning

Both Reach RS+ and Reach RS2 are an affordable and effective solution for landscape design, precision agriculture, and farming. The receivers are paired with a ReachView app available for iOS and Android. Choose your receiver for comfortable and accurate fieldwork.