Possible uses of land, based on vehicle access

By looking at what means of transport will take you where, you can get an indication of what might be a suitable sustainable use for a piece of land.

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No body represents this as:
free from omissions
free from errors
suitable for your use
nor as advice.
Your situation is different from anyone else's. Make informed decisions and if necessary get advice
Naturally, a driver with more nerve or less common sense will get a different idea of the land's capability. This table is based on "sensible" driving.

Note that any use lower in the table is likely to be suitable on any land higher in the table, all other factors being equal.

Thanks for the inspiration
I once read an article where the writer used the idea of vehicle access to indicate appropriate uses for land. I no longer have a copy of the article, but it inspired the table below.

If that was your article or you have a copy of that article, please let me know via the contacts page link below. and I will provide the appropriate credit here.

A guide to possible uses of land, based on the type of vehicle needed

Accessible by Likely highest level of sustainable use
- depending on soil type and slope
Family car Frequent tillage - vegetables, cereals etc
Two-wheel drive farm utility or pickup truck Grazing of high production animals for meat or dairy with maybe occasional tillage
Four-wheel drive vehicle (SUV)
not a pavement cruiser nor a quad bike
  • meat or milk sheep or goats when they are not growing rapidly and when they are dry = not reproducing or lactating
  • sheep or goats for fibre
  • beef cattle when they are not growing rapidly and when they are dry
ag bike,
Four-wheel drive quad bike or hill tractor

Or by looking at an aerial photo,
from an aircraft or
with binoculars
Some forms of grazing as long as it is in tune with the land's needs.
Some native or introduced plants that can be hand harvested for flowers, foliage, fruit or nuts.

Bees can get excellent forage where even the gamest horse and rider baulk.

Otherwise this land may be suited only to non-agricultural uses such as native vegetation for buffers, for wildlife or for its intrinsic beauty. And this will improve its appeal for:
Farm tourism for more active visitors interested in activities such as walking, hunting, birdwatching, picnics, camping, mountain biking, orienteering and extreme sports.

Note, on some land, in some situations, this can also be ideal land for certain terraced crops such as upland rice, orchards and even timber, if access for harvest etc suits the available equipment.

Note that the lower in the table, the lower the pressure the land can be put under sustainably.

Soils at the top of the table are more robust, less prone to erosion and probably deeper. Any area with deep soils such as in the valleys and particularly near the creeks can potentially be used for occasional or frequent tillage such as in broadacre cropping or horticulture (orchard, vegetables etc). Or it can be suited to permanent pasture such as alfalfa (lucerne) for occasional or frequent haymaking or occasional or frequent forage harvesting or for any "lower" use.

Soils at the bottom of the table are less robust, more prone to erosion and probably shallower. They need more gentle treatment.

For more about how to assess and manage your land in line with its capability, see Reading land capability

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This page was updated on December 27, 2007