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Agricultural Model

Model last updated 08/2015.

map of VA ConservationVision agricultural model


The Virginia Agricultural Model was developed to quantify the relative suitability of lands for agricultural activity across the state. It is presented as a raster data set and associated maps, in which the relative agricultural value of lands ranges from 0 (unsuitable) to 100 (optimal). This provides some of the information needed for prioritizing lands that may be placed under conservation easements in the interest of sustaining agricultural values and uses.

In this model, agricultural value is assessed primarily based on inherent soil suitability, but also accounts for current land cover as well as travel time between agricultural producers and consumers. Among others, staff at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) were consulted to ensure a robust model. The Virginia Agricultural Model is one of several in a suite of conservation planning and prioritization models developed by the Virginia Natural Heritage Program and partners, known collectively as Virginia ConservationVision.


A technical report provides detailed information about the Virginia Agricultural Model. Included in the report are:
  • A general introduction to the model
  • A list of all input datasets used to develop the model
  • Detailed description of the methodology used to produce the model and its components
  • A series of maps providing visual representation of the relative agricultural value of lands across the state, as well as across each planning district
  • Discussion of the differences between the current and previous versions of the model, appropriate uses for the model, and model limitations.

To access the technical report, click here.

To see a Prezi presentation with an overview of the model, click here.

Online Mapping

A simplified, polygon version of the Agricultural Model can be viewed within an online map viewer at:
  • Virginia Natural Heritage Data Explorer - LINK PENDING
  • LandScope America - LINK PENDING

Data Downloads

Spatial data with metadata are available for download in ArcGIS file geodatabase format. The geodatabase contains the following four raster datasets, each with 30-m pixels:
  • Agricultural Model, 2015 edition
  • Soil Quality Score (model component quantifying inherent soil suitability for agriculture)
  • Foodshed Score (model component with values based on average travel times to farmers' markets, urban areas, and large metro areas)
  • Land Cover Score (model component quantifying the relative suitability of different land cover types for agricultural use or conversion)

To register and download the data, click here . High-resolution maps (PDF or PNG format) and alternative raster data formats are available on request.

More Information

For more information about the Agricultural Model, please contact Kirsten.Hazler@dcr.virginia.gov or 804-371-6203.

NatureServe Landscape logo
LandScope provides Virginia ConservationVision models in an interactive map, to explore in the context of many other state, regional and national conservation priorities and reference maps. Virginia DCR-Natural Heritage is an active partner with NatureServe and other partners in the development and maintenance of Landscope Virginia, Landscope Chesapeake and LandScope America.