Delineation Lithuanian agricultural land for agro-ecological suitability for farming using soil and terrain criteria

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The aim of investigation is to analyse and classify the state of agricultural land affected by naturalbiophysical, that is, soil and terrain-slope, handicaps on its overall agro-ecological suitability for agricultural use. For the classification of land for suitability with respect to sustainable use and efficient protection, the following actual criteria were selected: soil texture, soil drainage and terrainslope. For identifying the relatively homogeneous areas, the Ward hierarchical cluster method was used. According to our estimates, Lithuanian agricultural land with unfavourable soil texture, poorly soil drainage and steep slopes covers an area of 33.59, 4.76 and 1.03% of total agricultural area, respectively. On the basis of functional classification of state of agro-ecological conditions of Lithuania, two orders of suitability (S-suitable, N-not suitable) and five land suitability classes were identified and delineated: S1 (highly suitable) included 10 district municipalities, S2 (moderately suitable) included 12 district municipalities, S3 (marginally suitable) included 15 district municipalities, N1 (currently not suitable) included 10 district municipalities and N2 (permanently not suitable) included 4 district municipalities. S3 occupies the largest (29.80%) share of the Lithuanian territory and N2 the least (5.66%). The land suitable for agriculture means with suitability classes S1, S2 and S3 was found on an area of 2,960,562 ha, which is 81.6% of the total land. In addition, soil texture was the most important factor causing differences in the classes of suitability. On the basis of natural limiting factors from an agronomic and eco-environmental perspective, the optimal sustainable development in agrosphere and a balanced-practical concept of land management and proper land use policy is presented. It is a reasonable base for agroecological regionalisation of Lithuania.

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