Soil Quality and Planning

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With the increasing world population and the need to provide food for the people it is important that land is used in a responsible way. As the population increases, so more pressure is put on the land and more questions asked about its use for one purpose or another.

Just as in soil classification, a number of land classification systems have evolved in recent years, to meet international and national needs. Most of these systems have been oriented towards agriculture and have graded the land according to its suitability or capability for crops and livestock. However, in the last decade, globally there have been major increases in the use of land for building and growing concerns being expressed about the environment. Land is recognised as an important international commodity and a vital national one, and one that is much wider than just for agriculture or forestry.

There have been two main approaches to the assessment of land quality. One of these has been to set up land capability classifications. To date, most such systems have focussed on agriculture because, certainly post World War II, the emphasis has been on soils in agricultural production. The other main approach to assessing land quality is using land suitability classifications. These differ from the land capability systems in being focussed on one or two potential uses of land, with an in depth assessment of the suitability of land for those purposes. Examples of both of these are given next.

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