ctrl-alt-Development

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Mandatory Movies

I love movies, especially if they have a dystopian theme to it. Some of the best:

Maize Mazes

Two covid safe Maize Mazes and Maze design software

Maize Mazes

I was asked to design a maize maze and in the process I accidentally built maize maze design software, which came to good use because the design always changes :) Also the one maze became two. With COVID firm in mind, the maze was designed with 3 meter wide paths so everyone can pass each other safely.

I've had a fascination with mazes since I was a kid, always drawing elaborate designs on grid paper and then wanting my parents to solve it. Then early 2020 my sister asked me if I would be interested in designing a physical maize maze for a friend of her. I simply could not resist!

Designing a Maze

Maize Mazes have their own set of constraints. For example maize is planted (or 'drilled' as farmers call it) in rows with a certain distance (typically 75 cm). For a maze this doesn't really work as you can cheat by walking along the rows. This is solved by planting the maize horizontally and vertically across the field thus producing a grid. The grid can then be used for designing the maze, keeping in mind that you need at least 4 rows of corn to prevent looking through.

Growing the Maze

Designing a maze is easy when compared to physically creating one. The two mazes I designed used two different methods of creating them (which was very educational :-).

Manually Pulling the Maize

Very low tech, but a lot of work! Using the detailed design sheets (see image below) from the software the paths of the maze are counted out using the row and column numbers and marked using poles and cords. Then one by one the plants are pulled out of the ground by an army of volunteers. It took about a week for the 4 acre Fordingbridge maze. The 3 meter wide paths didn't help :)

Just one page of the maze design Pulling maize is hard work!

Precision Farming

The farmer of the Sompting field had a John Deere Greenstar system which allows planting the maize only there were needed, provided you have the data in the appropriate format. My design software can produce a standard ETSI Shape file but that's not what the tractor needed. So in the end the design was converted by hand. However, reverse engineering of the file format is underway so next year, I hope to produce the files directly from the software.

However even with precision farming there is still some manual labour involved because of position inaccuracies. For this the detailed designs were used again. It was much less work through!

The Software

It started as a simple grid based drawing application with some specifics for maize mazes and ended up producing 100+ page pdfs with detailed design plans, solutions and visitor heat maps. Oh dear..

Maze design software

Visit the Maze

If you live near Fordingbridge or Sompting in the United Kingdom you can experience the mazes yourself! Visit the pickingpatch.com website for times and tickets. If you've been there I'd love to hear your experience! If not, watch the video below for an impression; the maze starts at the 29th second.

Need a maze designer?

If you need a maze design for next season why not contact me to see if I can help you?

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