What is the LandInfo Module for?

The LandPKS LandInfo module is designed for rapid soil characterization and identification. In LandInfo, users can access soil and ecological site information based on both location and user inputs. The LandInfo Module is useful to anyone who is interested in characterizing and identifying their soils. The module can be used for land management as well as in educational contexts.

Using the LandInfo module, users can identify their site’s soil type (SoilID) and determine  its Land Capability Class (LCC), essential information for sustainable land-use planning and management. To learn more about Soil Identification and Land Capability Classification, take a look at the SoilID and LCC articles.

You can also watch our video tutorial about how to use the LandInfo module.

Features of the LandInfo Module

In the app’s Data Input tab, the LandInfo module considers five defining aspects of soil: Land Use, Land Slope, Soil Texture, Soil Limitations, and Soil Color.

  • Land Use asks the user two questions: 1) What is the Land Cover on the site?, and 2) Is the site grazed? Under Land Cover, the user can select from 9 simple illustrations of possible land covers, from forest to village to water. Under Grazing, the user can select from 8 illustrations, ranging from not grazed, grazed by livestock, and grazed by wildlife.
  • Land Slope is about the angle of the land and the way it directs water. Under Slope, the user can select from 7 illustrated slopes or use the slope meter. Under Slope Shape, a series of 6 illustrations depict the shape of the slope both in the down-slope direction (left column of illustrations) and the across-slope direction (right column of illustrations). The user can select one illustration from each column. For example, the slope might be linear in the down-slope direction but concave in the accross slope direction, resulting in a linear/concave slope shape.
  • Under Soil Texture, users can begin to define what kind of soil they have at their sites, layer by layer. Is the surface texture a sand, silt, loam, or clay? Does it have rock fragments? By analyzing soil properties by depth, the LandInfo module predicts soil infiltration and plant available water-holding capacity (AWC). AWC estimates can be adjusted to account for variable levels of soil organic matter (SOM). The LandPKS Texture Guide provides easy, step-by-step instructions for soil texture identification. Users may also enter Rock Fragment Volume data and the Bedrock Depth in this tab.
  • Soil Limitations such as deep, vertical cracks in dry soil, salt found on the surface, high flooding risk, low PH, surface stoniness, water table depth and soil depth have major implications for land use. In most instances, these limitations can limit root growth and crop production; when not taken into account, they can lead to long-term degradation of the land.
  • Finally, the LandInfo module in the LandPKS mobile app contains the Soil Color tool. With this tool, users can define soil color using a phone’s camera and a standardized reference card. For more information about soil color and using the LandPKS soil color tool, refer to our article about soil color.

The LandInfo Module has been designed to accommodate users with different levels of experience, from the backyard gardener to the natural resource professional. By utilizing the video and text tutorials, the texture guide, and the ‘help’ text accessible by clicking on the question mark icons, users of all skill levels will be able to characterize their soil and gain a better understanding of its potential.

Video

Watch the LandInfo video training

Download

Download a PDF of Intro to the LandPKS LandInfo Module

Further reading:

“Taking the Guesswork out of Soil Identification”

Soil Taxonomy: A Basic System of Soil Classification for Making and Interpreting Soil Surveys by the Soil Survey Staff at USDA-NRCS (PDF download): Soil Taxonomy | NRCS Soils

Educational (K-12) resources about soils from the USDA-NRCS: Soil Education | NRCS Soils

More information about soil limitations from the USDA-NRCS (PDF download): Understanding Soil Risks and Hazards | NRCS Soils

The Land Capability Classification (LCC) System is a global land evaluation ranking that groups soils based on their potential for agricultural and other uses. LCC can help determine if land is suitable for certain uses and whether there are risks for degradation.

LCC was originally developed by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service, but it has now been adapted globally in many different countries. The LandPKS LCC is modeled after the National Soil Survey Handbook as well as several LCC systems from around the world.

In the LandPKS platform, LCC is based on your soil texture, slope, and soil limitations. Unlike some other LCC systems, we do not consider climate in our LCC classes due to the variability in climate requirements between different crops and cultivars. LandPKS users are located all around the world with a variety of land management objectives, and we strive to make sure our platform is applicable to as many management systems as possible.

If you are a US user, the USDA LCC may differ from our global classification. The US LCC is available from Web Soil Survey or the Soil Data Access services.

How do I view and interpret my LCC?

After you enter soil texture, slope, and soil limitations sections, you can locate your LCC on the report screen. Entering more data will improve the accuracy of your classification.

LCC is composed of two parts: the class and the subclass. The class determines the land’s current best use. The subclasses indicate which soil indicators are limiting factors.

For example, a soil with a 2-e (erosion) LCC can be used for agriculture but may be at risk for erosion. It may be a good idea to consider adopting conservation practices to limit soil erosion. Soils may also be limited by more than one factor. A 6-sd (soil depth), w-f (flooding) soil is both not very deep and has frequent flooding that is not ideal for agricultural use. See the tables below for a complete list of all classes and subclasses.

LandPKS also allows users to adjust their LCC based on criteria that are or are not important for their use. For example, if your soil is limited by flooding during the growing season, but you are planning on growing rice, you can elect to turn off the flooding (w-f) indicator, and your classification will be recalibrated without this subclass. You can also use this function to run scenarios about the potential of your soil if you were to mitigate against particular soil risk factors.

For example, if erosion is a risk factor for soil based on the slope, you may consider terraces or other structures to reduce this risk. Turn off the erosion indicator (e) to view a recalibrated LCC if you are controlling for erosion risks. If you have a high water table but you installed tile drainage, you could turn off the high water table indicator (w-d) to recalibrate your LCC.

Note for US LandPKS users: In the US, the USDA determines and reviews LCC for each soil. If you are a US user, the USDA LCC may differ from our global classification. The US LCC is available in LandPKS SoilID for each soil component. Click on the name of the soil component to view. You can also view LCC for your soil from Web Soil Survey or the Soil Data Access services.

LandPKS LCC Class Definition

LandPKS uses the following definition for determining LCC:

 

Download

Download a PDF version of this LCC article.

Further Reading

USDA Land Capability Classifications

Office of Environmental Heritage Land and Soil Capability Assessment Scheme

LandPKS Pilot Testing with Local Level Participatory Land Use Planning in Ethiopia; The Role of LandPKS in Land Use Planning

LandPKS: A New Mobile Tool for Sustainable Land-Use Planning and Management