With pressure on land in Guernsey it is important to know which land is best suited to different uses and particularly that which is most suitable for agriculture. To help with this The Guernsey Soil and Land Classification available on this page, was jointly commissioned by the then States Agriculture and Milk Marketing Board and the Guernsey Water Board in 1988.
The objectives of the Guernsey Soil and Land Classification were to map the soils of the island and classify them according to the UK designated Agricultural Land Classification. It was essentially a 'land resource evaluation' of the agricultural soils within the island and, as such, it classified the land according to its perceived productive capability. The basic soil type and land quality do not change and the work undertaken in the survey is still relevant today.
The highest quality land is valuable because it can grow all crops and is less affected by drought or by wetness. Livestock can graze grassland earlier and later in the year when wetter areas would not be suitable due to soil 'poaching'. Some other areas of land may be poorer in quality because the soil is wetter, but they can be particularly valuable during the mid-summer when some of the better land is most affected by drought conditions.
Because some of the wetter (or poorer) land within Guernsey has not been managed in an intensive way in past years, much of this land is now particularly valuable for wildlife conservation. Therefore, even the poorest quality land in the classification is important in Guernsey. The field boundaries that remain are historical features and a vestige of the land divisions that existed over 200 years ago. They are therefore valuable as historical features, for wildlife and as an integral part of the landscape of the island, imparting the special quality that is the countryside of Guernsey.
The Guernsey Soil and Land Classification Document is available in the downloads section of this page.