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 continues to improve 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 by clicking on the above link then click on the On-line Soil Viewer link or watch the individual webinar link on various uses of the Viewer.
2.Alternately, read the Help section to become familiar with the tabs and icons. Once you have clicked on the “On-Line Soil Viewer” you will see a welcome pop-to locate your land. Use the exact format as listed in the search box. Click on the Close and continue button. This then allows you to put information in in the search bar in the upper left hand corner.
3.When you put your cursor in the search box it will pop-up with several different ways of locating the land in question. If using land description use hyphens between the quarter, section number, township range and meridian. Do not put in a “W” before meridian. Clicking on the magnifying glass will bring up the township on the right of the screen.up for the viewer. The view can be magnified with the scroll button on your mouse. 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, 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. Highlight the area in the land of interest by clicking on it. This will shade out the soil polygon. Then refer to the left side of the screen, under the search function. General information gives the landform, polygon number and the LSRS rating for spring grains. Beneath this is more text information. More detailed information is available with the Land Suitability Rating. Below this is the Soil Polygon labeling, allowing labeling for the map, prior to printing it out. And finally, the fourth heading under the search is for very specific information on each soil type with description of each soil horizon. 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.
This information and the map can be printed if that is desired.
Different aerial photos are available with the Basemap heading having 2015 near infra-red photography or Imagery with labels which was taken between 2008 and 2012. Under Layers, you can also chose orthoimagery which was taken in 1999 and 2000.

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 Ag-Info Centre, Alberta Agriculture & Forestry 310-3276

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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 September 18, 2018.