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Mapping diagram example with an overlay stating ‘Backyard Biosecurity, it’s up to all of us’ and ‘Agriculture Victoria’
Edition 12: How to do a farm map
In this edition:

What can you use to identify key biosecurity features on your property?
What is an essential part of your biosecurity plan and emergency preparedness?

A farm map, of course!

In this edition, we’ll go through why they’re important and some options to make your own.

Why do I need a farm map?

A picture tells 1000 words! Having a map is an easy way to convey important and specific information about your farm.

A farm map can also be used to share information to family, employees, visitors & contractors such as the location of paddocks, gates, dams, tanks, troughs and pipelines. This information can be critical during an emergency such as fire or flood.

A farm map is an essential aspect of your farm biosecurity plan and a requirement for your LPA property risk assessment and Biosecurity Management Plan.

Watch webinar recording

Agriculture Victoria’s ‘Biosecurity How-to webinar’ series, has a recorded session on using the Google Maps tool. Click here to watch the recording (passcode: Biosecurity2022), which can be used to develop a farm map.

What features do I need on my farm map?

The number, type and extent of features that might be included in a map will depend entirely on the purpose of the map, your enterprise and the size and complexity of your farm. Many farm maps use an aerial photo as a background along with contours and natural features such as waterways.

Features you might add to your map include:


  • Farm boundary
  • Paddocks
  • Fences
  • Gates
  • Laneways
  • Buildings
  • Soils
  • Shelterbelts
  • Tanks
  • Troughs
  • Pipelines
  • Dams

Biosecurity features

  • Entry/exit points
  • Quarantine area
  • Stock containment areas
  • Double fenced areas
  • Public access areas
  • Stock yards
  • Feed storage areas
  • Parasite/pest sites
  • Machinery shed
  • Chemical storage shed
  • Chemical/fuel/oil spillage area
  • Wash down area
  • Power poles
  • Animal treatment sites
  • Effluent disposal area
  • Stock disposal
  • Rubbish dumps
  • Dog kennels/chook yards

You may also use your map to plan future improvements such as laneways, land class fencing and revegetation areas. Adding a scale, legend and north sign can make your map easier to read.

If an emergency animal disease outbreak is declared, Agriculture Victoria is responsible for the destruction and disposal of animal carcasses as required, including those that can be buried on-farm. Stock disposal areas should be marked on your farm map, so you can help with timely decision making and support Victoria to be well prepared to respond quickly to any EAD outbreak if it occurs.

Agriculture Victoria and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) have developed guidance for on-farm burial of carcasses in an emergency animal disease outbreak so you can make sure your biosecurity plan includes details about if, where and how carcasses can be buried on your property. If the property does not have an area that meets the criteria in this guidance, carcasses may need to be taken off-site, which would be managed by Agriculture Victoria. Other disposal methods may be considered where appropriate, such as composting, shallow-burial with carbon, incinerating in approved facilities and rendering, where the number of animals is low.

It is important to keep your map up to date as things change over time.

Where can I get started?

A range of options exist from low to high difficulty. It all depends on what your farm or property needs. At the basic level, a simple, hand drawn map may be sufficient, but if you find that you need more capability, we suggest delving into digital (e.g. Computer, tablet, smartphone) options. Note that as the difficulty increases, the more versatility the option provides.

Level of difficulty scale for mapping options, from low to high difficulty: hand drawn, industry online, farm management, maps online, GIS programs
1. Hand drawn

This is the easiest mapping option. You use a blank sheet of paper or print off a satellite or aerial photo image from the internet. Alternatively, you can make a pretty neat map using features and symbols commonly found on most computers (e.g. Paint, Word, PowerPoint). Do what suits your property best; it is easy to upgrade at a later date.

2. Online map

Agriculture Victoria has an online tool called Navigating Farm Developments that can help farmers and farm advisors identify planning and other requirements related to farm development projects. It serves 8 agricultural sectors and describes the sector specific planning requirements for many different types of developments (beef, dairy, goats, grains, horticulture, pigs, poultry, and sheep).

The tool also has a function that helps you to map where you might be able to bury carcasses on-farm in the event of an emergency animal disease outbreak. It includes the minimum burial criteria that need to be met (for example, distance to waterways) to protect the environment and public health, so you can plan and determine if and where you could bury livestock if required.

3. Farm management

There is a wide range of farm diary/management programs on the market. These are normally used to maintain daily records such as stock movements, paddock details, chemical use and a range of other information. While they can be excellent for these purposes, they have varying mapping capability and costs.

Visit NSW Government‘s Farms of the Future website for a list of products.

4. Maps online

Google Maps or Google Earth Pro are two of the most commonly used online mapping programs. These are great for a one-off map (such as a biosecurity property risk map), are relatively easy to use and are free (with some copyright limitations). Their mapping and data storage capability is quite limited, and they can be difficult to print.

Google maps

Setting up a Google account

Using Google My Maps

Google Earth Pro

5. Geographic Information System (GIS) programs

These are highly versatile, high-end mapping and data storage which are commonly used by big companies and government agencies. They can be expensive, apart from QGIS which is a totally free product! However, it is mostly recommended for people who enjoy using computer and will use it on a regular basis.

Agriculture Victoria has developed a customised version of QGIS called ‘QGIS My Farm Plan’. This product has a simplified user interface and some 200 custom layers suitable for farm mapping. At this stage the product is only available to landholders attending an Agriculture Victoria mapping workshop. For upcoming sessions visit Agriculture Victoria’s events page.

  • QGIS - A Free and Open-Source Geographic Information System
  • ArcGIS/ArcMap - Esri builds the leading mapping and spatial analytics software designed to support the mission and business objectives of organizations around the globe, regardless of size.
  • MapInfo – Precisely provides a complete, desktop mapping solution to manage, analyse and visualise data for mapping and map publishing.
Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) and farm mapping

If you are a red meat producer accredited with the LPA program, a key requirement is having a property risk assessment which involves mapping the property for potential risk sites and recording management of such sites. This is to ensure a livestock producer is doing all they can to prevent unacceptable levels of persistent chemicals and physical contaminants entering the meat they produce.

The risk assessment should be reviewed periodically and updated according to changes in land use and management.

Responses to the risk assessment questions and the map must be documented and filed, and both made available should the property be subject to an LPA audit.

Click here to read about how to and what to record to meet your LPA requirements and find a range of how to guides, examples and templates.

Example mapping image meeting LPA requirement #1

Biosecurity Management Plan (BMP)

BMPs were covered in newsletter 2 of Backyard Biosecurity, but you can also read more about them or download a template by clicking here.

One element of the BMP coversheet is an area description, map or plan of the whole or specified part of the premises to which the BMP applies, that accurately describes the boundaries of the premises.

Example mapping image meeting BMP coversheet requirements

We hope that this edition has given you the skills and links to create your farm map!

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Agriculture Victoria

Further information

Contacting Agriculture Victoria

Call 136 186 from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call (except for mobiles and public telephones).

If you are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment contact the National Relay Service on 133 677 or

All contact points can be found at:

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