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Agricultural Land Classification

Soil classification

The Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) system is used to grade the quality of agricultural land. Decisions can then be made over its future use in the planning system.

The ALC system classifies land into one of the following five grades, with grade 3 subdivided into subgrades 3a and 3b:

  • grade 1 – excellent quality agricultural land
  • grade 2 – good quality agricultural land
  • grade 3a – good to moderate quality agricultural land
  • grade 3b – moderate quality agricultural land
  • grade 4 – poor quality agricultural land
  • grade 5 – very poor quality agricultural land.

Planning policy defines the top three grades (1-3a) as the ‘Best and Most Versatile’ agricultural land. Best and Most Versatile agricultural land accounts for approximately 7% of total land in Wales.