01767 686872 
Whilst we joke about Sam being mad about soil, it’s important to know the quality of your soil and how it might impact your strategy for planning. Our expertise lies in knowing how and why soil needs to be assessed for planning and development. We aim to help landowners and developers present their land in such a way that it will not cause any issues later on in the planning process. 
As Agricultural Surveyors inspecting the soil, we grade its quality on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being the best and 5 being the worst. This is done from an agricultural productivity point of view to help developers present their case to their local planning authority and to help planners assess an application. You may have seen this be referred to as Agricultural Land Classification (ALC). If your land falls between Grade 1 – 3a, it is considered the best and most versatile (BMV) by the government and therefore useful to know when development opportunities are being assessed. 
Here is a brief summary of each grade, per the government website: 
Grade 1 – excellent quality agricultural land 
Land with no or very minor limitations. A very wide range of agricultural and horticultural crops can be grown. Yields are high and less variable than on land of lower quality. 
Grade 2 – very good quality agricultural land 
Land with minor limitations that affect crop yield, cultivations or harvesting. A wide range of agricultural and horticultural crops can usually be grown. On some land in the grade there may be reduced flexibility due to difficulties with the production of the more demanding crops, such as winter harvested vegetables and arable root crops. The level of yield is generally high but may be lower or more variable than grade 1. 
Grade 3 – good to moderate quality agricultural land 
Land with moderate limitations that affect the choice of crops, timing and type of cultivation, harvesting or the level of yield. Where more demanding crops are grown yields are generally lower or more variable than on land in grades 1 and 2. 
Subgrade 3a – good quality agricultural land 
Land capable of consistently producing moderate to high yields of a narrow range of arable crops, especially cereals, or moderate yields of crops. 
Subgrade 3b – moderate quality agricultural land 
Land capable of producing moderate yields of a narrow range of crops. 
Grade 4 – poor quality agricultural land 
Land with severe limitations which significantly restrict the range of crops or level of yields. It is mainly suited to grass with occasional arable crops (for example cereals and forage crops) the yields of which are variable. In moist climates, yields of grass may be moderate to high but there may be difficulties using the land. The grade also includes arable land that is very dry because of drought. 
Grade 5 – very poor quality agricultural land 
Land with very severe limitations that restrict use to permanent pasture or rough grazing, except for occasional pioneer forage crops. 
Most of our ALC work falls in helping to ascertain whether land is truly BMV or only BMV in places. This sees us dig holes at regular intervals, take soil samples and assess them and identify variations across the whole area. This, alongside other assessments, is added to a report to justify whether it can be built on. Our main goal here it to help your application be approved so you can move forward with your dreams! 
If you are looking for further advice on ALC, our self-proclaimed soil enthusiast, Sam, will be happy to help! You can reach him on 01767 686872 or email sfranklin@landscope.co.uk. 
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