Township, Range and Section


One of the databases that makes it easy to map your farm or ranch is PLSS. You can read more about the Public Land Survey System in Wikipedia
A basic building block with which we work is a quarter quarter section (qq section), which is oftentimes a 40 acre parcel. You can add any of these shapes to your farm definition. For standard qq sections we have an algorithmic approximate generation of quarter quarter quarter quarter sections (q4 section), which allows building blocks down to a 2.5 acre parcel.
Our database also contains lots, which are irregular in size and shape due to the curvature of the Earth.
In order to use full PLSS functionality and search by township, range and section you will need to log into the system using a Google, Facebook, Twitter or email account. This will also allow saving of the project so that you can work in stages.

Farm parcel identification

Our system identifies every qq section by drilling down some hierarchical information about it:
  • Meridian - identified by the name, for example "Boise Meridian"
  • Township - identified by Township index and direction from baseline, for example "7S", which means seventh township south of baseline
  • Range - identified by Township index and direction from the principal meridian, for example "4E", which means fourth township east of the meridian
  • Section - identified by Section number within a township, for example "22"
  • quarter quarter identified by four letter location designator, for example "NENW", which means northeast quarter of northwest quarter of the section
On our items list display the qq section is represented as "Boise Meridian 7S 4E 22 NENW"
To identify q4 sections we just add additional four letters to location designator for example "Boise Meridian 7S 4E 22 NWNWSWNW"
When you click any point on the map it sends the query to our backend system with the coordinates of the clicked point. We try to find any qq section (or other shape) that contains this location. If we find it we will display it - see Figure 1. We also display a box with qq section description. There is a link inside it which allows you to add this qq section to your current farm project.
Figure 1: Main view with qqsection found
Near the top left corner of map you will find a checkbox allowing you to enable q4 section lookup. If you check the box our algorithms will also search among generated q4sections. If we find a qq section you will see something similar to Figure 2. The q4 section is selected, but we also display a qq section containing it. If there are no q4 sections containing the clicked point we can display normal qq section or lot instead.
Figure 2: Main view with q4section found
Sometimes we cannot find any parcels in our database. In that case you will see a message like on Figure 3. In this case, you are encouraged to use the drawing tools to simply draw the parcel shape and make your own custom description.
Figure 3: Nothing is found in PLSS database
You can find the Legal description dialog in the Inputs dropdown menu on the left - see Figure 4.
Figure 4: Invoke legal description dialog
When you open this dialog you should see something similar to Figure 5 You can see three areas in this dialog:
  • section selection area
  • section map area
  • pending changes area
Data in the section selection area is pre-populated based on the PLLS database, so you will find only valid options for State, Meridian, Township, Range and Section fields. Available values change dynamically according to your selections. For example when you choose Meridian and Township values, then Range and Section fields will contain only values compatible with your choice.
Figure 5: Legal description dialog, areas
When you have your section selected its map is displayed in the section map area. We will take a closer look at Figure 6. In the section map area you can quickly mark qq sections, or lots, you would like to add to your farm. It's enough to touch the right qq section square. All qq sections added to your farm will be marked with a checkbox.
If your farm contains all qq sections from a single quarter section then you can switch to qsection view. You can also select or deselect all elements using a single button.
Figure 6: Legal description dialog, section map area
Regular qq sections contain an additional Q4 link which opens the map of q4 sections within this qq section. You can see this view on Figure 7. It works in the same way as the main section map, but on the smaller than 40 acre elements. When you click "Finish q4 edit" button your changes will be moved to the section map. In the standard case each division below is approximately 2.5 acres. In other words, this breaks each 40 acre division into 16 separate 2.5 acre divisions.
Figure 7: Legal description dialog, q4 section view
On Figure 8 you can see the following elements added to the farm:
  • 1 qq section from southeast quarter of northwest quarter of the section (SE NW)
  • 1 qq section from northwest quarter of southwest quarter of the section (NE SW)
Figure 8: Legal description dialog, section map tab with some elements selected
It is important to note that your changes introduced in the dialog are not saved until you click the Save button. You can also discard them using the Cancel button. It's possible to introduce changes in more than one section at once.
To make it easier for you to manage larger projects with multiple sections we introduced the third area - pending changes. It contains the list of sections which were selected in the section selection tab together with the summary of changes done for each of them. An example list of such changes is visible on Figure 8. Every entry in this list is a link. If you click it the section is selected automatically in section selection area
When you click Save button you will see how all changes done in the dialog are applied to your farm definition.
You can use this dialog not only to add new items to your farm definition, but also to remove existing ones. It's enough to open this dialog, uncheck unneeded elements and click Save.