Finding Land Classifications - Frequently Asked Questions

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 How can I discover the land classification for a specific property?
The Alberta Soil Information Viewer was launched in 2006 and has proven to be a handy tool for finding soil information, including land classifications. Use the following steps to access soil information using the viewer:

1.Launch the viewer using the above link.
2.Read the Help section to become familiar with the tabs and icons. Ensure that there is a checkmark in the box beside "Soil Information" in the "Map Layers" section of this tool.
3.Click on “Locate Township”, enter the township, range and meridian of the land in question, and click “Locate”. This will bring up a grid map centered on the township that was entered. The irregularly-shaped numbered polygons that appear on this map are “soil polygons”.
4.Find the section of land that is in question, using the "Pan" tool (hand icon) and "Zoom In" tool (magnifying glass) if necessary. Ensure that you can identify the quarter of land in question and the numbered soil polygon(s) on this quarter. Note that soil polygons may cover several sections of land.
5. Click on the "Identify" tool ('i' in a black circle) and click on the soil polygon number. This will bring up a table to the right of the aerial photo. The "Lsrs rating" is the land classification using the Land Suitability Rating System. The numbers are the Class, the letter(s) following the numbers are Subclass(es) and the number in parentheses ( ) is the fraction of the soil with that Class and subclass. For example 3DT(8) - 5W(2) is a mixture of 80% Class 3, Subclass D and T; AND 20% Class 5, Subclass W.
6. This information and the map can be printed if that is desired.

How does this Land Suitability Rating System (LSRS) differ from the old Canada Land Inventory (CLI) classification?
Both classification systems use the same Class and Subclass designation system. The LSRS system is slightly more specific than the CLI system with a few more factors taken into consideration for differentiating subclasses. The LSRS system also allows for the classification of organic soils that could not be done with the CLI system. Essentially, differences between the two systems are minor and the LSRS system can be substituted for the older CLI system without substantially changing land use implications.

What do the various classes and subclasses mean?
The LSRS class and subclass definitions are available on-line but the LSRS manual is huge (about 10MB) so is not readily accessible. CLI class definitions are much more readily accessible on-line and are very similar to LSRS definitions.

Are paper maps still available for purchase?
Land classification maps may be purchased from Map Town (1 877 921-6277) but these maps are no longer available from Alberta Agriculture.

How are land classifications related to land values?
Land classifications may or may not have anything to do with the land's productivity or value. The classification systems address the suitability or capability of land for sustained agricultural production but do not assess the productivity of that land. Classifications are useful for identifying factors such as topography, climate or drainage that may limit agricultural production but are not intended to be a means of setting property values prior to listing that land for sale. Land classifications in combination with cropping records can probably give a better picture of land's productive value than either of these bits of information on their own.

Related information
Recent agricultural real estate transfer information is available on Ropin' the Web.

Prepared by Harry Brook, Ag-Info Centre, Alberta Agriculture & Forestry

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For more information about the content of this document, contact the Ag-Info Centre.
This information published to the web on October 31, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on December 13, 2016.