Prime and Important Farmlands
Prime and important farmland includes all land that is defined as prime, unique, or farmlands of statewide or local importance.
Prime farmland is land that has the best combination of physical and chemical characteristics for producing food, feed, forage, fiber, and oilseed crops, and is also available for these uses (the land could be cropland, pastureland, rangeland, forest land, or other land, but not urban built-up land or water). The soils are of the highest quality and can economically produce sustained high yields of crops when treated and managed according to acceptable farming methods.
Very specific technical criteria were established by Congress to identify prime farmland soils. In general, the criteria reflects adequate natural moisture content; specific soil temperature range; pH between 4.5 and 8.4 in the rooting zone; low susceptibility to flooding; low risk to wind and water erosion; minimum permeability rates; and low rock fragment content.
There are no prime farmlands in Alaska since our soil temperatures do not meet the threshold established by Congress.
Unique Farmland is land other than prime farmland that has a special combination of unique characteristics needed to economically produce sustained high yields of a specific crop. Specific examples are bog soils used for cranberry production in the Northeast, and manipulated lava fields used for macadamia nut production in Hawaii.
No unique farmlands have been designated in Alaska.
Farmland of Statewide Importance
This is land, in addition to prime and unique farmland, that is of statewide importance for the production of food, feed, fiber, forage, and oil seed crops. Criteria for defining and delineating this land are to be determined by the appropriate state agency or agencies. Generally, additional farmlands of statewide importance include those that are nearly prime farmland and that economically produce high yields of crops when treated and managed according to acceptable farming methods. Some may produce as high a yield as prime farmlands if conditions are favorable. In some states, additional farmlands of statewide importance may include tracts of land that have been designated for agriculture by state law.
No farmlands of statewide importance have been designated in Alaska.
Farmland of Local Importance
In some local areas, there is concern for certain additional farmlands for the production of food, feed, fiber, forage, and oilseed crops, even though these lands are not identified as having national or statewide importance. Where appropriate, these lands are to be identified by the local agency or agencies concerned. In places, additional farmlands of local importance may include tracts of land that have been designated for agriculture by local ordinance.
The Palmer, Wasilla, and Upper Susitna Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) have adopted criteria for Farmlands of Local Importance for lands within their District boundaries. Criteria encompasses all soils in Land Capability Classes 2 and 3, and those soils in Land Capability Class and Subclass 4c.
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