Agricultural land (also agricultural area) denotes the land suitable for agricultural production, both crops and livestock. It is one of the main resources in agriculture. The standard classification (used, e.g., by FAO — Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) divides agricultural land into the following components, with their respective global land area in 2009:
- Arable land (13,812,040 km²) - land under annual crops, such as cereals, cotton, other technical crops, potatoes, vegetables, and melons; also includes land left temporarily fallow.
- Permanent Crops (1,484,087 km²) - Orchards and vineyards (e.g., fruit plantations).
- Permanent Pastures (33,556,943 km²) - areas for natural grasses and grazing of livestock, such as Meadows and pastures.
The first two components — arable land and land in permanent crops — constitute so-called cultivable land. The part of arable land actually under crops is called sown land or cropped land. The term farmland is ambiguous in the sense that it may refer, on the one hand, to agricultural land and, on the other hand, to cultivable or even only arable land.
Depending on the use of artificial irrigation, agricultural land is divided into irrigated and non-irrigated land. In arid and semi-arid countries agriculture is often confined to irrigated land, with very little farming possible in non-irrigated or rainfed areas.
Agricultural land constitutes only a part of any country's territory, which in addition also includes areas not suitable for agriculture, such as forests, mountains, and inland water bodies. Agricultural land covers 33% of the world's land area, with arable land representing less than one-third of agricultural land (9.3% of the world's land area).
In the context of zoning, agricultural land (or more properly agriculturally zoned land) refers to plots that may be used for agricultural activities, regardless of the physical type or quality of land. In some areas, agricultural land is protected so that it can be farmed without threat of development. For example, the Agricultural Land Reserve ALR in British Columbia, Canada, is managed by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), and removing or subdividing land within the ALR must be approved by the ALC.
Source: Helgi Library, World Bank, FAOSTAT
The cost of Russian farmland is as little as €1,500-2,000/ha (£1,260-1,680/ha). There are roughly 2.5 acres per hectares, so multiply by 2/5 to obtain the price per acre. Farmland can be available in France for roughly €10,000/ha, but this is a bargain. A more indicative price is €50,000-100,000/ha for nice quality soil. Farmland has been seen to be available on the Spanish market for as little as €10,000/ha, but this is non-irrigated almost desert land.
The average Russian farm measures 150ha. The most prevalent crops in Russia are wheat, barley, corn, rice, sugar beet, soya beans, sunflower, potatoes and vegetables. The Krasnodar region in Russia has 86,000ha of arable land. The Russians harvested roughly 85-90 million tonnes of wheat annually in the years around 2010. Russia exported most to Egypt, Turkey and Iran in 2012; China was a significant export market as well. The average yield from the Krasnodar region was between 4 and 5 tonnes per ha, while the Russian average was only 2t/ha. The Basic Element Group, which is a conglomerate owned by Oleg Deripaska, is one of Russia's leading agricultural producers, and owns or manages 109,000ha of Russian farmland, out of 90m actual and 115m total (0.12% actual).
In 2013, Ukraine was ranked third in corn production and sixth in wheat production. It was the main supplier of corn, wheat and rapeseed to Europe, although it is unclear whether the internal supply from countries like France were accounted in this calculation. Ukrainian farmers achieve 60% of the output per unit area of their North American competitors. UkrLandFarming PLC produces from 1.6m acres corn wheat barley sugar beet and sunflowers. The chief Ukrainian export terminal was until 2014, the Crimean port of Sebastopol.
- Definition of agricultural land in FAOSTAT Glossary (click on the letter "A" to get to the definition of "Agricultural area").
- Definition of agricultural land in OECD Glossary of Statistical Terms.
- FAOSTAT data on land use
- WDI –World Development Indicators online database, retrieved on July 18, 2008 (may require subscription for access; print edition from the World Bank).
- helgilibrary.com: "Agricultural Land Area" 2014-02-12
- Farmer's Weekly: "The future of farming in Russia" 9 Dec 2013
- "Ukraine crisis sends grain prices soaring" 21 Mar 2014