FREDERICTON (GNB) – A new online mapping tool will help farmers make informed decisions for land and crop development.

The land suitability map, launched by the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, provides information on what lands are most suitable to produce potatoes, small grains, vegetables, small fruit and forages.

“This vital tool will help increase our province’s food self-sufficiency and overall agricultural production,” said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Margaret Johnson. “The map is easy to search and is an excellent guide for finding new land suitable for farming, which can be used by new entrants and farmers wishing to expand. The tool will also help evaluate if idle or abandoned farmland is suitable for being brought back into production.”

The mapping tool determines land suitability for crops based on the type of soil, topography and the depth to ground water.

“This tool gives farmers extra information on soil suitability for the crops they are planning,” said John Russell, program facilitator for the Environmental Farm Plan Program of the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick. “It is important that the agricultural land we use is the best we can find so we can grow the greatest amount of produce per area and leave unsuitable land for natural habitat.”

The provincial and federal governments are partnering to invest $9.25 million in the 2023-24 fiscal year in targeted programs to support the competitiveness and sustainability of the agriculture sector. This is a 25 per cent increase from the previous fiscal year.

“The National Farmers Union in New Brunswick supports the launch of the new GIS mapping software for agriculture,” said Suzanne Fournier, executive director in New Brunswick. “New Brunswick saw an 18 per cent decline in total farmland in the last five years; with the housing crisis there is a great deal of pressure to use farmland for development and residential purposes. With study and consideration of the soil types and best use of land practices, development can occur in the same general vicinity without destroying agricultural land. We believe tools, like the new mapping software, along with policies that protect agricultural land will ensure the longevity and sustainability of our sector.”

New Brunswick’s agriculture sector exported a record $689 million in 2022 and finished the year with record revenues of $1.3 billion.

“The land suitability map is an interactive tool that addresses business growth opportunities in New Brunswick,” said federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau. “It supports new and existing farmers by assessing crop and land suitability for various farm products, increasing productivity and land use efficiency in the province.”