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Land capability

Land capability is the ability of the land to sustain a type of land use permanently. The key is matching the type and intensity of land use with its natural capability.

In variable grazing landscapes, matching land use with capability is not always so straightforward. Choices are usually between the type of pasture and livestock, the level of fertiliser use, the targeted level of production and the grazing strategy.

It is important for landholders, advisors and regulators to be able to broadly classify landscapes. Land use can then be matched to the landscape to work towards a sustainable level of production.

Land capability classification system

The land capability classification system in the Table below is based on the 8 class system developed by the NSW Soil Conservation Service. This classification system is among many different systems used to classify land capability. The classification system focuses on slope and soil physical characteristics. It identifies risk factors and measures to protect against soil erosion.

Land Capability Class Description

Class 1

 Suitable for a wide range of agriculture. It may be regularly cultivated. There are few, if any constraints to production.
Class 2 Suited to a wide range of horticulture in rotation with pastures. Several minor constraints may limit suitability for continuous cultivation. These include stony and shallow phases of soil, moderate erosion hazard and degradation of the soil surface.
Class 3 Suited to grazing, including the use of improved pastures. Cultivation is limited to cash or forage crops in rotation with pastures.
Class 4 Suitable for grazing, but not for cultivation. Pasture improvement relies on minimum tillage techniques. Productivity may be seasonally high but overall is low as a result of major environmental constraints.
Class 5-6 Non-arable while class 6 is often non-trafficable. Land suitable for grazing but not cultivation. Maintain or improve perennial pastures and preserve ground cover.
Class 7-8 Generally unsuited to agriculture or at best suited only to light grazing. Agricultural production is very low or zero as a result of severe constraints and as a results retirement form agriculture for conservation purposes may be the best option.

How Local Land Services can help

Local Land Services (LLS) will work in partnership with farmers and farming groups to provide support, advice and best practise examples to increase productivity and profitability.

LLS work closely with organisations such as the Department of Primary Industries to provide up to date technical advice and support.

Advice and assistance

Call 1300 795 299 to get in touch with a Local Land Services Officer.

Industry collaborators and resources

NSW Soil Conservation Service (SCS)
SCS Provides commercial environmental consultancy specialising in land rehabilitation, environmental audit, advice and project management.

PROFarm courses
PROfarm courses are delivered locally by highly skilled and respected NSW Department of Primary Industries staff.

NSW Department of Primary Industries
The Department of Primary Industries works to develop and sustain diverse, profitable food and fibre industries, and ensures best practice management of our natural resources.