GIS at Dickinson College

GIS News, Events and Student Work blog

Author: Will Kochtitzky

Kochtitzky Bolivia Poster

A Modern Analog to Map the Past: Lake Vegetation of the Bolivian Altiplano

Kochtitzky_Bolivia Poster

Modern Lakes Poopó and Titicaca offer differing shore habitats; however, we can use these different modern environments to help understand ancient vegetative environments of the Bolivian Altiplano. During the summer of 2013, a team of American and Bolivian researchers from the Taraco Archaeological Project collected plant samples and GIS data to gain a better understanding of these lake basins in hopes of furthering the knowledge around past environments surrounding these lakes and how humans previously interacted with the landscape. This project uses collected GIS data to understand vegetation cover, kauchi, Poaceae, and Pennisetum clandestinum densities on the lakeshores near the towns of Rosapata, Toledo, Chiripa and San Jose. This study found that vegetation coverage, Pennisetum, and Poaceae densities are directly correlated with distance from lakeshore, while kauchi displays an inverse relationship with lakeshore distance.

Dickinson College Farm: Expansion, Production, and Good Food


The Dickinson College Farm, located in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, provides produce and meat for the College cafeteria, the Campus Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, the farmer’s market and Project SHARE (the local food pantry). The farm has just less than 12 acres in vegetable production as well as 18 acres of pasture for sheep, chicken, and beef cattle. Student farmer workers collect approximately 700 lbs of compost from the campus dining hall daily, as well as work on the college farm with the farm managers, apprentices, and the packinghouse manager.

Additionally, the farm is a living laboratory for student research projects and a variety of classes on campus including biology, environmental science/studies, GIS, physics, and earth science, to name a few.

Aerial image


A Garmin recreational grade GPS was used to collected and update features on the Dickinson College Farm in November 2013. These features were collected in the field and uploaded into a GIS to use in ESRI software, Arc Map. I was then able to use Arc GIS Online to upload the data and display it, here. Arc GIS Online is a new platform that is developing and allows users to display spatial data and navigate across the map. The map was compiled to attempt to display all of the relevant features of the college farm in one location to allow for the farm managers to better direct activity on the farm as well as allow visitors to interact with the farm and more easily find desirable locations as well as information. I hope this map can be useful to student farm workers, college guest, and prospective students interested in agriculture.

Entire Farm


            I was able to map several new features of the Dickinson College Farm, which had previously never been mapped including the swale, persimmon trees, and planned expansion fields. Additionally, several layers were updated to reflect the current infrastructure of the College Farm. These layers include the solar arrays, buildings, compost, production fields and roads. All of this data was compiled and is displayed online using the ESRI online software here.

The heart of the farm is the production fields and pastures that make up the farm. The fields grow many varieties of vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, eggplant, onions, peas, beans, radishes, beets, and more. The pasture is home to meat cattle, sheep, meat broilers and layer hens. All of these functions work together to make up the college farm and allow it to help feed Dickinson College students, faculty, and staff. These crop varieties are not displayed on the map, as each year they move around the landscape as part of an integrated pest management scheme. The interactive map allows viewers to see the name of the production fields, as well as the pasture names. Here is a static version of the online map only displaying the production areas of the farm.

DCF Production

The most interesting and newest layer that is part of this project is the planned expansion fields layer. These fields will enter production during the 2014-growing season and are currently cultivated using conventional agricultural practices. This field was planted in soybeans during the 2013 growing season; however, the Dickinson College Farm plans to cultivate organic vegetables here in the near future. The College Farm has experience great success since beginning in the mid-2000s and the farm’s customers and the greater community will benefit from this increase in production, as more food is grown. The farm hopes to be able to grow more food for the cafeteria and all of the CSA members to continue to provide access to local food in Carlisle. The area of the new expansion is approximately 8.8 acres and will house 8 production fields to grow all of the varieties vegetable typically grown on the farm. This map displays the area that will go under cultivation during the summer of 2014 as well as a proposed outline for 8 vegetable production fields. It should be noted that this area will not be certified organic for 3 years due to the certification requirements.

Farm Expansion

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