Land Use Capability Classes in New Zealand

There are eight land use capability classes, four arable and four non-arable, arranged in order of increasing degree of limitation or hazard to use and in decreasing order of versatility of use, from one to eight.

Class I Very good multiple-use land. Nearly level, has deep easily worked soils which are well drained but not seriously affected by drought and usually well supplied with plant nutrients and responsive to applied fertilisers. Climate is favourable for growth of wide range of cultivated crops/pasture/forestry. Practically no risk of erosion.
Class II Good land with slight limitations. Management/conservation practices to overcome these limitations are easy to apply. Land used for cultivated crops/pasture/forestry.
Limitations occur singly or combined:
(a) slight to moderate susceptibility to erosion
(b) gentle slopes
(c) soils of only moderate depth
(d) wetness, existing permanently as a slight limitation after drainage
(e) occasional damaging overflow
(f) unfavourable structure and difficulty in working
(g) slight to moderate salinity
(h) slight climatic limitations.
Class III Moderate limitations restricting choice of plants grown and/or make special conservation practices necessary. May be used for cultivated crops/pasture/forestry.
Limitation result from one or more of the following:
(a) moderate to high susceptibility to erosion or severe effects of past erosion
(b) rolling slopes
(c) shallow soils
(d) wetness or continued waterlogging after drainage
(e) frequent damaging overflow
(f) low moisture holding capacity
(g) moderate salinity
(h) moderate climatic limitations
(i) low fertility, not easily corrected.
Class IV Severe limitations to arable use restricting choice of crops grown and/or necessitate intensive conservation treatment and/or very careful management. Land kept in pasture for long periods with cash for cropping should be restricted to, say, once in five years or less frequently.
Limiting features occurring alone or in combination:
(a) high susceptibility to erosion or very severe effects of past erosion
(b) strongly rolling slopes
(c) very shallow soils
(d) excessive wetness with continuing hazard of waterlogging after drainage
(e) frequent overflow with severe damage
(f) very low moisture holding capacity
(g) high salinity
(h) severe climatic limitations
(i) low fertility very difficult to correct
Class V No Class V on East Coast
Class VI Fairly good stable hill country where soil erosion can be minimised by good pasture establishment/management. Also includes flat rolling land with an erosion risk or other limitation too great to allow safe cropping use but which has moderate limitations/hazards under a perennial vegetation. Usually well suited to grazing/forestry. Soils responsive to fertiliser.
Limitations are (usually in combination):
(a) slight to moderate erosion hazard under perennial vegetation
(b) steep/very steep slopes
(c) very stony/very shallow soils
(d) excessive wetness or overflow
(e) frequent flooding with severe damage to pastures
(f) low moisture holding capacity
(g) severe salinity
(h) moderate climatic limitations.
Class VII Unsuitable for arable use and has severe limitations/hazards under perennial vegetation. Usually not suited for grazing, as it requires special soil conservation practices, moderately well suited to forestry. Limitations are similar to Class VI but are intensified.
Limitations are usually in combination:
(a) severe erosion hazards or severe effects of past erosion
(b) very steep slopes
(c) very stony/very shallow soils
(d) extreme wetness of soils
(e) very frequent damaging flooding
(f) very erodible rock type
(g) very high salinity
(h) severe climatic limitations
(i) very low moisture holding capacity
(j) low fertility, very difficult to correct.
Class VIII Predominantly very steep mountain land, mostly above 4000 ft, descending to lower levels in unfavourable situations and on very steep land in high rainfall areas. Most common limitation is extreme erosion or erosion hazard which may be combined with severe limitations of climate or low fertility. Management for pastoral/forestry production not very commercial as it will be increasingly necessary to give protection for plant growth for on- and, particularly, off-site benefits. Therefore, unsuitable for pasture or commercial forestry. Use is restricted to catchment protection and recreation.


Last Updated: 19 July 2010

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