Government of New Brunswick


Land clearing is the process of removing trees, stumps, brush, stones and other obstacles from an area as required to increase the size of the crop producing land base of an existing farm or to provide land for a new farm operation. The newly cleared land must be ready for cultivation, including liming and leveling to meet acceptable crop rotation and soil conservation goals.


2.1 Soil suitability for agricultural production will be determined using NB Soil Survey Reports or may be determined by providing on-site soil boring test holes (recommended 2 tests per acre) and a soil boring report prepared indicating surface texture, depth to compact layer, depth to bedrock, drainage capability, percent slope, percent stoniness, percent surface stone, and percent rock outcrops.

2.2    Soils suitability will be based on the soil report (Sec. 2.1) and the soil selection criteria in section 2.3. Soils having components falling within the Not Recommended category of table in section 2.3 shall not be cleared.

2.3    Table - Soil Suitability Selection Criteria

Surface Texture Sandy Loam,
Loam, Silt Loam
Loamy Sand,
Clay Loam
Sand, Gravel
Silty Clay Loam
Depth to
Compact Layer
Greater than 40 cm 20 to 40 cm less than 20 cm
Depth to Bedrock Greater than 75 cm 40 to 75 cm less than 40 cm
Drainage Well, Moderately Rapid, Imperfect Poor
Slope (%) Less than 5% 5% to 10% Greater than 10%
Stoniness (%) Less than 20% 20% to 30% Greater than 30%
Surface Stone (%) Less than 0.1% 0.1% to 3% Greater than 3%
Rock Outcrops (%) 0% Less than 10% Greater than 10%

2.4    The Department reserves the right to carry out a Stem Analysis Evaluation as specified in standard "Preliminary Stem Analysis for Agricultural Land Clearing Projects" to determine stand category.

3.0     GENERAL

3.1    Land shall not be cleared on slopes above 10% unless it can be fully integrated within an existing erosion control (terracing) conservation system to prevent erosion from the affected area.

3.2    Land cleared adjacent to an existing field shall not increase the overall up and down field row length unless soil conservation practices are implemented as required to prevent an increase in soil erosion from the effected area.

3.3    Land shall not be cleared within 30 meters (100 ft) of a watercourse unless approved by a NB Department of Environment Watercourse Alteration Permit. The NB Department of Environment Watercourse Alteration Regulations and Guidelines will apply to all projects including Regulation 90-80 and 90-120 under the Clean Water Act as revised in 1993.

3.4    All tree growth, stumps, large stones and other obstacles to the normal operation of farm equipment shall be completely removed. The land shall be sufficiently level to permit the normal operation of farm equipment and the area must be ready for seed bed preparation.

3.5    Land clearing method shall limit the loss of topsoil removed from the area being cleared. Debris piles shall also be free from mud and topsoil (maximum allowance of 10% topsoil).

3.6    The location of the land shall be within a reasonable distance of the farm base.

3.7    All debris must be in clean piles and disposed of by burning or hauled to a disposal site as approved by the project engineer or designate(preferably within the property boundary).

3.8    Whenever possible, wood debris shall be disposed of by piling and burning within the clearing area. All necessary permits for burning must be obtained.

3.9    Debris shall not be shoved off to areas adjacent to the field being cleared.

3.10    Newly cleared land shall be properly limed according to NBDARD Soil lab recommendations.


4.1    For clearing standing timber, the method used shall be the walk-down and pile; the uprooting and pile; or the cutting and pile method.

4.2    For clearing clear-cut areas, the method used shall be the grubbing and piling; the grubbing, piling, and turning; or the heavy moldboard plow or heavy breaking disc method.

4.3    For clearing light growth and ground brush, the method used shall be the grubbing and piling; the rotary or flail mower; the heavy moldboard or breaking disc; or the rotary plow method.

4.4    Whatever the clearing method used, debris piles shall be topsoil and mud free (maximum allowance of 10%) and well packed to ensure that they can be easily burned or loaded and hauled off the field.

4.5    Debris piles shall not be placed closer than 30 meters (100 ft) to adjacent cleared or wooded areas.

4.6    The burning method will be exempt only in designated regions where burning permits cannot be obtained and will be reviewed on a case by case basis.


5.1    Proper and well maintained industrial clearing equipment and skilled operators shall be used for land clearing.

5.2    Piling blades used with crawler tractors shall meet or exceed the NBDARD Piling Blade Standard.

5.3    Piling rakes used with excavators shall meet or exceed the NBDARD Piling Rake Standard.

5.4    The primary land clearing equipment shall be one of the following:

5.4.1    Crawler tractors with piling blades, cutting blades or earth blades. Cutting blades shall be used only for cutting and piling method. Earth blades shall only be used for walking-down standing timber.

5.4.2Excavator with piling rake.

5.5    Generally, auxiliary land clearing equipment shall be breaking discs and breaking plows pulled by crawler tractors.

5.6    Generally land clearing equipment used for debris cleanup operations shall be wheel rakes, power drum rakes, specialized reel head rock pickers and debris pickers powered by farm tractors.

5.7    Brush cutters (rotary brush mowers) powered by farm tractors, may be used for clearing light growth and ground brush, if normal cultivation can proceed after brush cutting.


6.1    Upon notification of project completion, the project engineer or designate will carry out final inspection and report of land clearing site.

6.2    Land clearing projects will only be consider complete if they meet these standards and work is suitable to the project engineer or designate.


7.1    The Atlantic Committee on Agricultural Engineering (A.C.A.E.) Publication No. 7, 1985 - Land Clearing for Agricultural Production contains additional information on clearing rationale, methods and equipment and should be referred to prior to commencing a land clearing project.

7.2    Watercourse Alteration Guidelines issued by the N.B. Department of Environment and Local Government.

The New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture reserves the right to revise the above standard at any time.