Return to Commission home Click here to link to BC Government
Click here for information on the Commission Click here to link back to ALR main page Click here for information on our legislative framework Reports & Publications Contacts at the Commission office




Agriculture Capability

The land capability classification for agriculture has two main
components; the capability class and the capability subclass. The class identifies potential for agriculture. The best agricultural lands are rated Class 1 because they have the ideal climate and soil to allow a farmer to grow the widest range of crops. Class 7 is considered non-arable, with no potential for soil bound agriculture. As the class numbers increase from Class 1 to Class 7, the range of crops decreases. Associated with each class is a subclass that identifies limitations or special management practices needed to improve the soil, such as topography, stoniness, soil moisture deficiency, low fertility, etc.

  Where can I get a copy of an agriculture capability map?

The land capability classification usually gives land two ratings:
unimproved and improved. Unimproved ratings describe the land in its native condition without any improvements to the soil. Improved ratings indicate the land's potential once the appropriate management practice identified by the subclass, such as irrigation, stone removal or drainage, has been implemented.

Thus, the Commission looks not only at the agriculture capability ratings but also may take into account factors related to productivity, yield, suitability, etc.

  Detailed explanatory notes


Agricultural Capability Classes

Class 1
Class 1 land is capable of producing the very widest range of crops. Soil and climate conditions are optimum, resulting in easy management.
Class 2
Class 2 land is capable of producing a wide range of crops. Minor restrictions of soil or climate may reduce capability but pose no major difficulties in management.
Class 3
Class 3 land is capable of producing a fairly wide range of crops under good management practices. Soil and/or climate limitations are somewhat restrictive.
Class 4
Class 4 land is capable of a restricted range of crops. Soil and climate conditions require special management considerations.
Class 5
Class 5 land is capable of production of cultivated perennial forage crops and specially adapted crops. Soil and/or climate conditions severely limit capability.
Class 6
Class 6 land is important in its natural state as grazing land. These lands cannot be cultivated due to soil and/or climate limitations.
Class 7
Class 7 land has no capability for soil bound agriculture.

Capability classes designated as 01 to 07 refer to organic soils rather than mineral soils. The organic soil class definitions are equivalent in terms of their relative capabilities and limitations for agricultural use to those defined for mineral soil.

  Detailed class descriptions


Agriculture Capability Subclasses

A & M Soil moisture deficiency N Salinity
C Adverse climate
(excluding precipitation)
P Stoniness
D Undesirable soil structure R Shallow soil over bedrock and/or bedrock outcroppings
E Erosion T Topography
F Low fertility W Excess water
I Inundation
(flooding by streams, etc.)
S & X Cumulative and minor adverse conditions

  Detailed subclass descriptions


Photo courtesy of Dr. Leigh Moyles, Agriculture Canada Research Station, Summerland, BC.