How to Spot Illegal Crops in Your Field

Growers of illegal crops like marijuana often hide plants in someone else's field, where they are concealed by crops or other vegetation. This is called guerrilla farming, and the growers often cause environmental damage to the land they use and legal headaches for the land owners. Police routinely search for illegal crops, which they remove without charging the land owners, but many land owners prefer to proactively search their fields and report any contraband they find.


  1. Image titled Spot Illegal Crops in Your Field Step 1
    Search by air. Hire a pilot and a small plane, helicopter, or powered parachute to fly over your field so you can see it from above.
    • Take photos to study later. If you're uncomfortable going along on the flight, you can ask the pilot to take photos for you or hire someone to go along as a passenger and take the photos.
    • Watch for plants that are a different color from the rest of the crop, are closer together or father apart than the rest of the field or otherwise look out of place.
    • Look for people in your field, walking paths that lead to your field or signs that vehicles have driven onto your field.
  2. Image titled Spot Illegal Crops in Your Field Step 2
    Use satellite imagery to view your field. High-resolution satellite images are available on the Internet at a number of websites. Some will allow you to download free software you can use to see satellite images of your field.
    • Enter your address or map coordinates and zoom in until you can see the features of your field.
    • Look for areas in your field that are a different color than the rest of the field, places where the alignment or placement of plants is different or anything that doesn't look right.
  3. Image titled Spot Illegal Crops in Your Field Step 3
    Walk through your field. Make a point of walking your planted field several times per month, especially if you grow corn. Corn plants are tall and leafy, which makes it easier to hide illegal crops both from the air and from the road.
    • Search for signs that someone has been in the field, such as discarded or hidden equipment for watering and tending plants, rerouted water sources, garbage, or campsites.
    • Look for unfamiliar vehicles parked near your field. That could mean someone is planting or tending an illegal crop.


  • Consider installing video surveillance equipment such as cameras and motion sensors so you can catch guerrilla farmers entering your field. You may be able to turn any recorded images over to the police so they can make arrests.


  • Be very careful when searching your fields on foot. Guerrilla farmers often set traps to injure people who find their illegal crops, and they often carry weapons. Don't confront guerrilla farmers and don't cut the crops down yourself. Report the illegal crop to the police, who will remove it.

Things You'll Need

  • Plane, helicopter, or powered parachute
  • Camera
  • Satellite imagery software
  • Video surveillance equipment

Article Info

Categories: Farming