Exporting point cloud to Ag Leader SMS workflow

After much frustration I have finally come up with a workflow to get the point cloud data from DroneDeploy into Ag Leader SMS (populer agriculture GIS software). The problem lies in that for Ag Leader to consider it a good .las file for agriculture it has have points classified as Ground. I dug into the las format guidelines to figure out what it should look like in the file. There are lots of other points available other than ground but SMS throws out these other points when loading in so we only get terrain. After talking with DD support they told me DD does not classify any points in the las file, so I knew where my problem was.

After lots of googling and trial and error I came across LAStools.org which has bundled tools to read and edit las files into a nice GUI instead of SHELL (Its been to long for me to remember how to get around in DOS very well). Its open source, they have it all bundled into a file called LAStools.zip. It contains many .exe to manipulate a las file. I’ve only used two of them so far. LAS2LAS.exe and LAS2TXT.exe. For this workflow I’m just going to use LAS2LAS.exe You’ll have to download lastools.zip, extract it and the you will find all the exe’s in a folder called bin along with corresponding README.txt’s explaining each.

LAS2LAS workflow

First your going to open up the browse box and find your way to your las file. It is very cumbersome. If your las file is on a seperate drive than where las2las.exe is you will have to use the directory box to change. The “…” is how you’ll go up a folder level if you’ve never used DOS or shell commands.


After the file opens you will find file information in the bottom left corner. Pay attention to the “z” if those numbers are negative (because your take off location was higher than what you mapped) you will have to scale it. Its important to note here that this is in meters, and not the actual altitude. So when this map exports unless you know what what the absolute highest or lowest point is you’ve mapped the elevation will be incorrect. You’ll only be able to get roughly close with scaling. I do not know if on the business plan using GCP’s if it will give you actual altitude. I only know on Pro plan its difference in my take off elevation. I’m hoping DD is changing this to be actual elevation.


To classify the points, and scale the z axis if needed you will open the “Transform” box. If your z-axis is negative you’ll need to choose “scale_z” under “coordinates” dropdown and set value to “-1” and click add. If you didn’t need to scale z or have it done already then choose “set_classification” under the “other items” dropdown and set value to “2”. This will classify them as ground.


After that step we will move over to the “Target Projection” box on the right. My las files when exported from DD are in EPSG:4326 which is WGS84. For one reason or another the projection doesn’t show up in the file the way SMS likes to read it, so I had to change it using UTM Zone:16. Your’s could be different zone, so I’d look that up for your area.


Finally make sure the format says las and not laz, then click run. It will kick out a file in the same directory as the file it was working with. Far from a smooth way of doing it, but none the less a way I’ve gotten the las data into my GIS software fairly quickly. I’ve also had good luck turning a LAS into a CSV for reading into my water management software.


Thank you for sharing this.

I had been wondering how to do this ! Excellent tutorial - many thanks

The other thing I found needed to happen was reduce the number of points. SMS WILL run out of memory on a 40 acre field. Under the Filter box using “various criteria” drop down choose “keep_every_nth” and I used 2 at first which means it was dropping every other point (if I undertand it correctly). It did reduce file size to manageable in sms.

1 Like

Thanks for the update, @mleecline. How is the analysis on top of this import going?

It’s going ok. Was able to make some terrain and watershed maps out of them. I’m not sure if I’m losing too much going to point cloud vs what I see when looking at it on DD. I seem to be able to get a lot more detail on DD than my export. I did have to reduce size to help SMS.

1 Like