Last edited 22 Feb 2021

Best and most versatile land

Agricultural land is land that is used for rearing livestock and producing crops. It is defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as land that is arable, under permanent crops, and under permanent pastures. Agricultural land covers approximately 38% of the world's land. In the UK it accounts for 70% of the land area. Ref

The term ‘agricultural land classification’ (ALC) refers to

‘The system devised and introduced by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to classify agricultural land according to the extent to which its physical or chemical characteristics impose long-term limitations on agricultural use. Land is graded from 1 (excellent quality) to 5 (very poor quality), with grade 3 subdivided into agricultural subgrades 3a and 3b. See ‘Grade 1-5’ and ‘Subgrade 3a and 3b’.

The term ‘best and most versatile land’ refers to:

Land defined as grade 1, 2 or 3a of the Agricultural Land Classification. This land is considered the most flexible, productive and efficient and is most capable of delivering crops for food and non-food uses.’

Ref The HS2 London-West Midlands Environmental Statement, published by the Department for Transport in November 2013.

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