I am trying to map plant death in a garden experiment. The location of the garden doesn't matter, I just care about each plant in relation to the others. They were all planted on a grid system. My data looks like this:

Column Row Plant State
1      1   3333  Alive
1      2   3334  Alive
1      3   3335  Dead
2      1   3336  Dead
2      2   3337  Alive
2      3   3338  Alive
3      1   3339  Alive
3      2   3340  Alive
3      3   3341  Dead

I want each plant to be a point on the grid with the column functioning as the X and the row as the Y coordinates. I'll then use symbology to change the point colors to reflect the state of the plant.

My questions:

  1. Is this at all reasonable/feasible to do with GIS?
  2. If it is, how do I create an artificial coordinate system that would work for my purposes?
  3. If not, what program would you recommend (that would ideally take an .xlxs or .xls file)?

I can use either ArcGIS or QGIS so please give recommendations for which would be easier.

  • 1
    Given that "The location of the garden doesn't matter" then, although this could be tackled with a GIS, this does not seem to be a GIS problem. – PolyGeo Jun 15 '16 at 23:34
  • 2
    You can make an excel file like in the table and then import it in ArcGIS and choose to diplay the points by assuming that the coordinates are the column(x) and row(y) in which you find each plant. So, for example plant 3333's coords will be 1,1. – Nikos Jun 16 '16 at 1:32
  • ArcGis or QGIS? QGIS is cheaper... but it depends on what you're trying to do with these records after you've imported them, ArcGis comes with a huge range of well documented tools to interrogate the data, if you need these tools price and ease of use is not the concern. In ArcGis I would make an event layer, in QGIS I would make a virtual dataset from the CSV - search on those terms and decide which is easier. – Michael Stimson Jun 16 '16 at 4:00
  • @Barrett has the right answer; I've done this before using total data station data points to create a map of an archaeological site. If at some point you care about the physical location of the garden, you can use rubbersheeting to adjust the locations of your points to make them line up with their actual location – crld Jun 16 '16 at 21:28
  • As per the Tour there should be only one question asked per question so, if you need more than the current answers provide, can you edit your question to focus it on the single remaining issue from the tree (two too many) originally asked, please? – PolyGeo Jul 3 '16 at 5:22

It is feasible, don't worry about coordinate systems though. It can be in no coordinate system or it can be in any coordinate system. You could use your local coordinate system and plop the grid on top of your house or in the back yard.

You can do this with a simple 3x3 grid of polygons and create a field to record the status of each plant. Then symbolize based on the field.

There's probably even some simple excel based solution you can work up that colors cells based on cell value.


You don't have to create your own coordinate system: depending on where you live you can use a State Plane (feet) or UTM (metres) coordinate system that exists in your location.

From there, either in ArcGIS or QGIS you can create a fishnet grid of 3 cells by 3 cells and create them at whatever real world size is appropriate for your mock-up plots - maybe 5'x5' (or equivalent in m). You can also, as suggested, create this fishnet in your own backyard or in a real-world place - but you probably don't want to pick a random spot on the Earth...

From there you can start to assign the attributes and row/col coordinates you've outlined above, and begin to do some analysis. And because you've used a coordinate system in F or m, you can do some area analysis if you want as well...

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