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Mark Twain said "Buy land, they're not making it anymore." He was right in that land is a non-renewable natural resource.

Agriculture is an important part of our local heritage in Woodstock, CT. If we don't manage growth, and prioritize protection of valuable land, we will not be able to sustain agriculture here over the long term.

Important Farm Soils
This map shows prime farmland soils and soils of statewide importance (per USDA), and SOME of the farms in Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program (as of 2002).

One type of land we are particularly concerned about is farmland. Farmers must have good quality soil to grow the crops that we all depend on for food, animal feed, energy, clothing, etc.

Not all land is equally useful for agriculture. Some soils in some locations are better able to economically produce high yields than others. The main factors that affect whether or not soil is suitable for agriculture include the following.

  • natural moisture content (e.g., is there an adequate and dependable water supply from either precipitation or irrigation)
  • soil temperature and growing season
  • acceptable acidity or alkalinity (pH)
  • salt and sodium content
  • susceptibility to flooding or water saturation
  • risk of wind and water erosion
  • how well water and air can move through the soil (permeability)
  • how rocky or stony the soil is, and
  • availability and accessibility (e.g., is the land undeveloped and already in agricultural use.)

Many of these same factors make farmland soils especially vulnerable to development. Therefore, the most important farmland soils are prioritized for conservation.

Farmland soil can be in one of four categories: prime, unique, of statewide importance, or of 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, pasture land, rangeland, forest land, or other land, but not urban built-up land or water.)
  • 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. An example would be bog soils used for cranberry production in the Northeast.
  • Farmland of Statewide Importance is not prime or unique farmland, but is still of statewide importance for production of food, feed, fiber, forage and oil seed crops. State agencies determine which tracts of land fall in this category.
  • Farmland of local importance has not been identified as having national or statewide importance, but is still of concern as additional farmland for production of food, feed, fiber and forage. The Code of Federal Regulations Title 7 Part 657, allows the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to approve listing of land in this category. Woodstock has eleven soil types in this category - refer to the list below.

These designations are used to identify the location and extent of land that has productive soil. This land is then considered a priority for protection if we want to prevent working agricultural land from being converted to nonagricultural uses.

Maps of the locations of these soils are maintained. These maps can be consulted when agencies make decisions about funding land preservation and conservation, and when they review development proposals.


46B Woodbridge fine sandy loam, 2 to 8 percent slopes, very stony
46C Woodbridge fine sandy loam, 8 5o 15 percent slopes, very stony
51B Sutton fine sandy loam, 2 to 8 percent slopes, very stony
58B Gloucester gravelly sandy loam, 3 to 8 percent slopes, very stony
58C Gloucester gravelly sandy loam, 8 to 15 percent slopes, very stony
61B Canton and Charlton soils, 3 to 8 percent slopes, very stony
61C Canton and Charlton soils, 8 to 15 percent slopes, very stony
72C Nipmuck-Brookfield complex, 3 to 15 percent slopes, very rocky
73C Charlton-Chatfield complex, 3 to 15 percent slopes, very rocky
85B Paxton and Montauk fine sandy loams, 3 to 8 percent slopes, very stony
85C Paxton and Montauk fine sandy loams, 8 to 15 percent slopes, very stony
This revised list was transmitted to the Town of Woodstock on September 26, 2014 by the USDA. According to the Code of Federal Regulations Title 7 Part 657, these lands have been identified as Local Important Farmland. This designation has been approved by the United States Dept. of Agriculture.

More Information and References:

Conservation Commission
Between 1982 and 2007, 23,163,500 acres of agricultural land were converted to developed land – an area the size of Indiana.
~ American Farmland Trust