SMS Map Skills: Creating Prescription Map by Matching Rate to Zone


There are many different methods for creating a Prescription (Rx) map. This method is available in both SMS Basic and SMS Advanced where an appropriate application rate is matched to a pre-existing zone. Similar steps are performed regardless of whether your Rx is for Fertilizer Application, Planting or Seeding.

Any rates used in this example do not imply the correct agronomic recommendation but are used for illustration only. Consult with a qualified agronomist for appropriate information.


  1.  Select the map containing your intended zones from the management tree and bring it into the main map space (Create New Map).
  2. The source map must be a polygon map. If your source map is a point or swath then choose either a GRID or a Contour to receive rate information. Source map might be a soil sample zone map, a yield regions map or a previous application zone map. The premise is that you have already decided what rates to apply in each zone.
  3. From the menu File>New or New Layer icon above map, select New Prescription Layer to start wizard. The Source map called “Reference Layer” will display. Next>
SMS Rx Choose Source aka Reference Layer
SMS Rx Choose Source aka Reference Layer

4. Select the Operation you are creating an Rx for: Fertilizing Prescription Dry (Liquid, seeding etc) then the appropriate choices for Rate Attribute and Units. Remember this will be Units of PRODUCT applied. Enter your rates beside the legend range (or zone id etc) and select Finish.

SMS Rx Choose Units Operation and insert rates per zone
SMS Rx Choose Rx Type, Attribute and Units

5. Once all rates are assigned, an editor window will appear. Zones can be edited manually by selecting a legend rate/colour then choose Assign values icon and manually tap a polygon in the map to reassign the zone to a different rate. E.g. This is commonly done to reassign a very small polygon to the surrounding rate. You can also change all regions in a rate zone by editing legend and entering a new rate. All polygons of that rate will change on the map.

SMS Rx Map Editor showing tools to edit map or rates
SMS Rx Map Editor

6. When complete choose SAVE and SMS will have auto populated the management information. You must select PRODUCT at this point. Example here is Potash. If the product (or blend) you are using does not appear in the list ADD product. Other helpful tip is to put description into the dataset info such as to be Spring Applied 2021

SMS Select Management Hierarchy for New Rx Map Select Product
SMS Select Management Hierarchy for New Rx Map Select Product

7. After the Save and Close the new Rx layer will be presented in your main map window to apply your own legend preferences, printing and export.

SMS Finished Rx Map Ready to Print/Export
SMS Finished Rx Map Ready to Print/Export

8. Most, if not all, current controllers can accept a “shapefile” export from SMS. From either the map or the management tree, right click and choose Export>Export to Generic File format>Start Generic File Export Process

SMS Export to Generic File Format selection
SMS Export to Generic File Format

9. Select Shapefile from the generic types Then select EXPORT SETTINGS-Shape. This window allows you to edit the output attributes (think column headings) that the operator will see. Only the Field, Product and Tgt Rate (which is the units of product per acre) are required by the controllers/monitors. Deleting all other columns makes for a more streamlined file. All the controller really needs is the Tgt Rate column. Once edited SAVE this as a template for future use. For the next Rx map you can load these choices

SMS Shapefile Export Settings to Choose output attributes
SMS Shapefile Export Settings
SMS Edited Output for Shapefile showing just FIeld, Product and Tgt Rate
SMS Edited Output for Shapefile

10. Lastly save the file to a compact filename. At the very least the field name and product. Some controllers do not like long long names and do not use punctuation.

SMS Shapefile Make Filename
SMS Shapefile Make Filename

11. Shapefiles” are a 4 file set and all files create by this export must be transferred to the monitor.

12. Each brand of monitor has its preferences for where this file is placed for import.

13. For instance, the John Deere 2630 monitor expects the set of shapefiles to be placed in a folder called Rx if transferring by USB.

14. The USB stick directory would look something like this:

SMS Export to JD USB Stick Location
SMS Export to JD USB Stick Location

15. Inside the Rx folder the files would look like this:

SMS Shapefile Export Files in Directory
SMS Shapefile Export Files in Directory

16. Some transfers require that you “ZIP” or compress the multiple files into one file. Windows can do this for you easily: Highlight ro select ALL FOUR of the shapefile files, then right click and choose Send to: Compressed file. The result is a single file with a .ZIP extension. This is a good way to email a set of shapefiles to a service provider/customer to avoid one of the components from being missed or forgotten in transfer.

17. There are many destinations the shapefiles might need to be placed to properly be read by the field units. Consult your controller brand manual or contact your service provider for correct procedures. Knowing how to manually copy and paste files to a USB or transferring to your controller of choice is a good skill to develop. It is about as complicated as knowing what screwdriver to use on what screw. Once you know, you know!

18. For controllers that want a multilayer shapefile please refer to the document: SMS Map Skills: Exporting RX maps to Multilayer shapefile. You will prepare your prescription same as above, then the export will combine multiple products into a single set of shapefiles (rather than one per product). The multilayer shapefile is appropriate for Zone based subscriptions where all products are going into same management zones, or a grid style map.

Karon Tracey-Cowan, AgTech GIS

Revised March 2021

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