Arable land (from the la|arabilis
, "able to be plough
ed") is any land capable of being plough
ed and used to grow crop
[''Oxford English Dictionary'', "arable, ''adj''. and ''n.''" Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2013.]
Alternatively, for the purposes of agricultural
statistics, the term often has a more precise definition:
A more concise definition appearing in the Eurostat glossary similarly refers to actual rather than potential uses: "land worked (ploughed or tilled) regularly, generally under a system of crop rotation
Non-arable land can sometimes be converted to arable land through methods such as loosening and tilling
(breaking up) of the soil
, though in more extreme cases the degree of modification required to make certain types of land arable can become prohibitively expensive.
In Britain, arable land has traditionally been contrasted with pasturable
land such as heath
s, which could be used for sheep-rearing
but not as farmland
Arable land area
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations
, in the year 2013, the world's arable land amounted to 1.407 billion hectares, out of a total of 4.924 billion hectares of land used for agriculture.
Arable land (hectares per person)
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[[Agricultural land that is not arable according to the FAO definition above includes:
* [[Permanent cropland that produces crops from woody vegetation, e.g. orchardland, vineyards, coffee plantations, rubber plantations, and land producing nut trees;
* Meadows and pasture
sland used as pasture and grazed range, and those natural grasslands and sedge meadows that are used for hay production in some regions.
Other non-arable land includes land that is not suitable for any agricultural use. Land that is not arable, in the sense of lacking capability or suitability for cultivation for crop production, has one or more limitationsa lack of sufficient fresh water for irrigation, stoniness, steepness, adverse climate, excessive wetness with impracticality of drainage, and/or excessive salts, among others. Although such limitations may preclude cultivation, and some will in some cases preclude any agricultural use, large areas unsuitable for cultivation may still be agriculturally productive. For example, United States NRCS statistics indicate that about 59 percent of US non-federal pasture and unforested rangeland is unsuitable for cultivation, yet such land has value for grazing of livestock
[NRCS. 2013. Summary report 2010 national resources inventory. United States Natural Resources Conservation Service. 163 pp.]
In British Columbia, Canada, 41 percent of the provincial Agricultural Land Reserve area is unsuitable for production of cultivated crops, but is suitable for uncultivated production of forage usable by grazing livestock.
[Agricultural Land Commission. Agriculture Capability and the ALR Fact Sheet. http://www.alc.gov.bc.ca/alc/DownloadAsset?assetId=72876D8604EC45279B8D3C1B14428CF8&filename=agriculture_capability__the_alr_fact_sheet_2013.pdf]
Similar examples can be found in many rangeland
Land incapable of being cultivated for production of crops can sometimes be converted to arable land. New arable land makes more food, and can reduce starvation
. This outcome also makes a country more self-sufficient
and politically independent, because food importation is reduced. Making non-arable land arable often involves digging new irrigation canals and new wells, aqueducts, desalination
plants, planting trees for shade in the desert, hydroponic
s, fertilizer, nitrogen fertilizer, pesticide
s, reverse osmosis
water processors, PET film
insulation or other insulation against heat and cold, digging ditches and hills for protection against the wind, and installing greenhouses with internal light and heat for protection against the cold outside and to provide light in cloudy areas. Such modifications are often prohibitively expensive. An alternative is the seawater greenhouse
, which desalinates water through evaporation and condensation using solar energy as the only energy input. This technology is optimized to grow crops on desert land close to the sea.
The use of artifices does not make land arable. Rock still remains rock, and shallowless than turnable soil is still not considered toilable. The use of artifice is an open-air none recycled water hydroponics relationship. The below described circumstances are not in perspective, have limited duration, and have a tendency to accumulate trace materials in soil that either there or elsewhere cause deoxygenation. The use of vast amounts of fertilizer may have unintended consequences for the environment by devastating rivers, waterways, and river endings through the accumulation of non-degradable toxins and nitrogen-bearing molecules that remove oxygen and cause non-aerobic processes to form.
Examples of infertile non-arable land being turned into fertile arable land include:
* Aran Islands
: These islands off the west coast of Ireland, (not to be confused with the Isle of Arran
in Scotland's Firth of Clyde
), were unsuitable for arable farming because they were too rocky. The people covered the islands with a shallow layer of seaweed and sand from the ocean. Today, crops are grown there, even though the islands are still considered non-arable.
* Israel: The construction of desalination
plants along Israel's coast allowed agriculture in some areas that were formerly desert. The desalination plants, which remove the salt from ocean water, have created a new source of water for farming, drinking, and washing.
* Slash and burn
agriculture uses nutrients in wood ash, but these expire within a few years.
* Terra preta
, fertile tropical soils created by adding charcoal.
Examples of fertile arable land being turned into infertile land include:
* Droughts such as the "Dust Bowl
" of the Great Depression
in the US turned farmland into desert.
deforestation: The fertile tropical forests are converted into infertile desert land. For example, Madagascar's central highland plateau has become virtually totally barren (about ten percent of the country) as a result of slash-and-burn deforestation
, an element of shifting cultivation
practiced by many natives.
* Each year, arable land is lost due to desertification
and human-induced erosion
. Improper irrigation of farm land can wick the sodium
, and magnesium
from the soil and water to the surface. This process steadily concentrates salt in the root zone, decreasing productivity for crops that are not salt-tolerant.
* Soil fertility
* Land use statistics by country
* List of environment topics
* Development easement
Surface area of the EarthArticle
from Technorati on Shrinking Arable Farmland in the world