Soils Ontario

Table of Contents

  1. Background
  2. Objective
  3. Application
  4. Canada Land Inventory
  5. Links


The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is recognized Provincially as the data custodian for soil information. The custody of the digital soils layer is shared with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) through a Memorandum of Understanding. OMAFRA, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, in cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources, are compiling a high quality, detailed, geospatial soils database for Ontario.

The digital soils data was automated from soil survey reports and maps that were produced over the past few decades. The current soil database of Ontario is based upon a set of 44 soil reports, and their accompanying maps for Southern Ontario, and a further 12 areas of soil mapping for Northern Ontario. All of these soil maps, and their classifications of soil and land attributes, have been digitized and electronically "stitched" together to produce a single digital coverage. This is available from Land Information Ontario under the name Soil Survey Complex.


The soils data will evolve into a digital database that is spatially accurate throughout Ontario, consistent, and easily accessible in digital and paper format. Using GIS and NRVIS (Natural Resource Values Information System), staff are updating soil attribute information and correlating soil polygons that cross administrative boundaries.

Scientists from OMAFRA and AAFC are developing automated processes for resolving correlation issues across these administrative boundaries. Efforts are made to take advantage of recent developments in geographic information science, artificial intelligence, and the availability of high resolution data layers. These developments have given rise to new approaches and methods to mapping soils.

The coverage of digital and paper soil maps is visible in Figure 1.

Digital soil coverage and ongoing projects

Figure 1. Digital soil coverage and ongoing projects.

Text Equivalent


The provincial soil database is primarily used for land use planning and to support programs of extension and environmental protection. As such, the soil database supports the agricultural land protection provisos of the Provincial Policy Statement. The database contains descriptive attribute information including slope classes, Canada Land Inventory (CLI) rankings, stoniness, drainage class, and texture for all soil components. This information, as part of the Soils Ontario project, can be applied to many applications, with the following to list a few:

  • Source Water Protection
  • Land Use Planning
  • Nutrient Management
  • Soil Erosion Modelling
  • Specialty Crop Mapping
  • Non-Agricultural Source Material
  • Feed-In Tariff Program of the Ontario Power Generation

Canada Land Inventory

The CLI indicates the capability of the land to sustain agriculture. There are seven classes used to rate agricultural land capability. Class 1 lands have the highest capability and Class 7 lands have the lowest capability to support agricultural land use activities. Organic soil is labelled separately and is not classified with a CLI rating. Subclasses are used to identify specific limiting factors for each class.

The Canada Land Inventory Maps have been digitally compiled for Southern Ontario and parts of Northern Ontario. Updates are being made to the remaining areas of Northern Ontario from hard copy maps. These are now available as either paper or digital copies of a map or the digital data (shapefiles). Digital information is currently available at no charge.

For areas where editing and compilation have not been done in Northern Ontario, continue to use the original Canada Land Inventory - Agricultural Capability Rating Maps.

Use the NTS index to download or view the most current Canada Land Inventory PDFs.


Please visit the Land Information Ontario (LIO) website to download the Soil Survey Complex dataset.

For more information, see also the metadata details and the Warehouse Data Class Description Report in Standard NRVIS Interface Format (SNIF).

Also See

For information on the status of this project and map currency, please call the OMAFRA Geomatics Unit. Visit the Geomatic Service Centre Staff for contact information or email

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300