I'm about to embark upon a design project for re-contouring landscape around my home. Assuming I get an accurate measurement of the landscape into the computer, and after I modify the landscape model to represent the proposed result, I want to produce the 'diff':

  • A visual representation showing the volumes where dirt needs to be removed.
  • A visual representation showing the volumes where dirt needs to be added.
  • A report of the actual volume of dirt being moved (the sums of those volumes).
  • A report of the delta (+/- of dirt that will be needed, or will need to be removed).

What software exists that can produce this report for me? I will prefer inexpensive software and software that is easy to learn quickly, but will accept any that meets the above criteria.

5 Answers 5


GRASS GIS can do the same job: http://grass.osgeo.org

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AutoCAD Civil 3d is the software that I use for cut and fill jobs. Once you create a surface as a triangulated irregular network (TIN) that represents the existing ground, and another one that represents your desired surface, it will tell you how much dirt you need to move. It is available as a free trial from AutoDesk. I believe that the only restrictions on the trial is a time limit.


The procedure is mostly the same for all softwares. You need a base surface, where it contains the heights of the terrain representing it now, and a future surface, representing how the terrain must look like after work.

The software makes a difference in them and retrieves the results in a graphic form. ArcGIS 3d Analyst does that job. I'm not sure of Opensource solutions that does it too.

  • 1
    I believe the tool George is refering to is called Cut\Fill. If you Want, you can read about it here: bit.ly/eQo5Yv
    – jonatr
    Commented Mar 9, 2011 at 11:19

My company makes a product that might help you. It is called Kubla Cubed and can do all the things you mention. There are many much more advanced products out on the market that can do this but they also have a much higher price tag, ours I would say is one of the simplest to use and also as there is a free version - the cheapest (free\lite version fully functional but various exports are disabled). I would encourage you to give it a try, it's free and might be exactly what you need. I also might add that it is being actively developed and supported : http://www.kublasoftware.com/kubla-cubed/

  • 1
    You might want to focus more on the technical aspects of your answer. Right now it is a little more than an ad and will most probably be deleted.
    – R.K.
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 15:41
  • Yes it is a plug for software I am involved in but I've been transparent about that. With Kubla Cubed Lite (which is free) you can import existing ground levels from excel or text file, define multiple earthworks platforms by drawing shapes with the mouse. Input the platform level and slope batter angle for each platform. Cut and fill volumes are then calculated. I believe this would be of interest to the original poster or others who have similar questions.
    – Ted Woods
    Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 17:28

Although already answered, you might also want to take a look at 12D. I used them a few years back for excavation calculations and was really impressed.

Calculates volumes through various methods between surfaces, between surface and models, or defined elements. 12d model provides numerous methods for approaching volume calculations in many different scenarios.

Whether it be for dam storage, or stockpile calculations, there is a method available to get your results.

Computation methods include:

End Area or Exact (height to height, TIN to TIN, TIN to height, storage calculations, removal calculations, balanced calculations) Grid cell Stockpile TIN to height range

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