How To Know If The Land Is Agricultural Or Residential | askBAMLand

This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases. The images and content on this page may be created by, or with the assistance of, artificial intelligence, and should be used for entertainment and informational purposes only.

Don't want to get caught with the wrong zoning on your land? Our article shows how to know if land is agricultural or residential just to avoid costly mistakes.

To know whether the land is agricultural or residential, look for annual records of crop growth, landowner name, survey number, and the land extent. These records can provide valuable insight into the nature of the land and help you make informed decisions about its use.

I was once in the same situation, wondering whether my land was agricultural or residential. But with the help of an expert and some research, I was able to determine its nature and make informed decisions about its use. Let me share what I learned to help you quickly navigate this process.

Key Takeaways

  • Agricultural land is primarily for harvesting crops, while residential land is for housing.
  • Residential land has a higher price value with high infrastructure than agricultural land.
  • Agricultural lands carry a higher environmental risk than residential lands.
  • Check crop growth record, landowner name, and survey No. to know the land's nature.

Table of Contents

Identification of Land Type

To determine whether a piece of land is agricultural or residential, it is essential to consider multiple factors, such as;

Zoning Laws of the Land

The zoning laws are regulations that specify the permissible land uses within a particular area, helping to differentiate land types. To find out if a piece of land is agricultural or residential, it is crucial to check AG zoning laws in your area.

Common examples of land use categories include agricultural use, residential use, commercial use, and recreational land use. Each category has specific requirements related to permitted activities and property development.

Land Records

Another way to determine whether a piece of land is agricultural or residential is to examine its land records. These records contain essential information, such as the land survey number, the extent of the land, and the property owner's name.

In most cases, these records also include the land's zoning classification.

Visual Inspection

A visual inspection can also help determine whether a piece of land is under residential or agricultural land classification. Observing the surrounding land, existing structures, and indications of exclusive farm use activities can provide valuable information.

For instance, agricultural land may showcase signs of soil erosion, rich deposits, and irrigation systems, while residential land may be characterized by the presence of residences, a huge garden, even apartment complexes, and other necessary infrastructure.

Feature Agricultural Land Residential Land
Primary Use Crop Production Housing
Zoning Agricultural Residential
Land Value Lower Higher
Infrastructure Basic Advanced
Environmental Risk Higher Lower

Determining Agricultural Land

It is essential to identify whether a piece of land is agricultural or residential, as it affects possible usage, a much lower tax bracket for agricultural land, and development potential for Residential land. Several factors can provide useful information to determine if the land is primarily used for agriculture.

Soil Type and Land Quality

Soil type and quality are crucial when evaluating agricultural land. Rich deposits of fertile soil, high nutrient content, and favorable pH levels contribute to quality farmland capable of producing high crop yields. It also has the ability to protect farmland usage. The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service provides soil survey data, which can offer valuable insights into soil characteristics.

Water Availability

Access to water is critical for agricultural land use, as it plays a significant role in crop growth, raising livestock like goats, and irrigation. You have to be aware of nearby water source activities, like cases of rivers flood, and any legal restrictions on water usage, such as senior water rights holders.

Climatic Conditions

The local climate plays a considerable role in determining the agricultural potential of a particular piece of land. Factors such as average yearly rainfall, temperature variation, and frost-free days per year are essential for evaluating the suitability of farmland and farming activities and its ability to produce agricultural products or ability to herd livestock.

Current and Past Use

Analyze the land's history and surrounding properties for evidence of agricultural uses. This may include signs of planting used to produce field crops, cattle ranch grazing livestock, or farming infrastructure, such as barns, fields, and irrigation systems that only farmers can leave behind. They’d show you if the current owner stopped farming or not.

Determining Residential Land

In order to determine whether a piece of land is zoned for residential use, recreational land, or hobby farms, it is essential to consider various factors, including infrastructure access, neighborhood characteristics like proximity to amenities, and other restrictions and covenants.

Infrastructure Access

Residential land typically has access to infrastructure like roads, electricity, water, and sewage systems. It's crucial to assess the availability of these services, as they may impact the land's usability and value for residential purposes before you decide to buy land.

Neighborhood Characteristics

When understanding if the land is agricultural land or residential land, look into the characteristics of the surrounding area. Residential and recreational properties are typically situated in close proximity to other residential structures. Furthermore, the presence of schools, parks, hobby farms, and other facilities catering to families and permanent residents may also indicate that the land is zoned for residential purposes.

Proximity to Amenities

Residential land is often located near everyday amenities such as grocery stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Investigating the land's distance from these amenities can help determine whether the land is designated for residential use.

Restrictions and Covenants

Local jurisdictions often have specific rules regarding land use, so it's essential to become familiar with applicable restrictions and covenants to evaluate if the land is residential. Some areas may require a piece of land to be a certain size or have specific restrictions on the types of residences that can be built.

Converting Land Use

Understanding the difference between agricultural land and residential land can be crucial when buying land or converting a property. In most cases, you’ll need a real estate agent to help you even to know the farm tax status.

Rezoning Process

If you are considering changing the use of a property, you will need to go through the rezoning process. The first step is to submit an application for rezoning at your local planning and building office. The application requires information about the right property, its existing zoning classification, and the desired new agricultural land classification.

When submitting your application, be prepared to provide the property's map and parcel number. Local planning officials will review the application and consider factors like surrounding land use, infrastructure, and environmental impacts before deciding.

Approval Requirements

Approval for converting exclusive farm use typically depends on local land use regulations and specific zoning ordinances. Some jurisdictions may require approval from a zoning board, planning commission, or governing body. It's essential to work with a knowledgeable real estate agent who can help you navigate the approval process.

When you submit your application, include any proposed land changes, like building residential structures or changing exclusive farm use activities. If your application is in compliance with local zoning regulations, your chances of obtaining agricultural property classification or another desired classification are higher.

Considerations and Challenges

Converting land use can be a complicated process. There are various factors and challenges that a property owner needs to consider when undertaking this task.

  • Land designation: Understand the initial designation of the land you wish to convert, whether agricultural property, residential, or commercial land.
  • Environmental issues: Make sure your plans are in compliance with environmental regulations, such as erosion control, flood zone designations, and a conservation reserve program.
  • Tax implications: Keep in mind that changing land use may impact your property taxes. Feel free to consult your County Tax Assessor. For example, converting agricultural land to residential land could attract a higher tax laws bracket.
  • Neighboring properties: Consider how your proposed conversion fits in with surrounding land uses. Converting land use can have an impact on neighboring properties, and gaining their support or understanding can be critical in obtaining local approvals for real estate.
  • Market value: Keep in mind that changes in land use might impact a property's market value. Consult with a real estate agent or appraiser to understand how your proposed conversion could affect your property's and neighboring properties' value.

Using GIS to Determine Agricultural or Residential Land

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a sophisticated technology that combines various types of data to create a comprehensive map of an area.

GIS can be used to analyze and visualize data on land use, soil composition, topography, environmental factors, and other features that can help to distinguish between agricultural land and residential land.

Here are some of the ways that GIS can be used to determine land use:

Land Use History

GIS can be used to analyze historical data on land use in a particular area. This data can provide insights into the types of activities that have been carried out on a particular plot of land over time, such as whether it has been used for farming activities or it’s for incompatible non-farm uses.

Soil Composition

GIS can be used to analyze soil composition data, such as pH levels, nutrient content, and organic matter. This information can help determine whether a plot of land is suitable for agricultural uses or has been degraded due to urbanization or other factors.

Environmental Factors

GIS can be used to analyze data on environmental factors such as rainfall, temperature, and topography. This information can help to determine whether a plot of land is suitable for agricultural use or if it's more appropriate for residential development.

Factor Agricultural Land Residential Land
Soil pH 6.0-7.5 5.0-7.0
Organic Matter >2.0% <1.0%
Annual Rainfall 25-50 inches 10-25 inches
Slope <5% <10%

GIS is a valuable tool for determining land use patterns and can provide a wealth of information on the characteristics of a particular plot of land. That being said, GIS can help to distinguish between agricultural land and residential land by analyzing historical data, soil composition, environmental factors, and other features.


Brittany Melling

Brittany Melling

Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.

Read More About Brittany Melling