Arable land

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Modern mechanized agriculture permits large fields like this one in Dorset, England.

Arable land (from Latin arabilis, "able to be plowed") is, according to one definition, land capable of being ploughed and used to grow crops.[1] In Britain, it was traditionally contrasted with pasturable lands such as heaths which could be used for sheep-rearing but not farmland.

A quite different kind of definition is used by various agencies concerned with agriculture. In providing statistics on arable land, the FAO and the World Bank[2] use the definition provided in the glossary accompanying FAOSTAT: "Arable land is the land under temporary agricultural crops (multiple-cropped areas are counted only once), temporary meadows for mowing or pasture, land under market and kitchen gardens and land temporarily fallow (less than five years). The abandoned land resulting from shifting cultivation is not included in this category. Data for ‘Arable land’ are not meant to indicate the amount of land that is potentially cultivable."[3] A briefer definition appearing in the Eurostat glossary similarly refers to actual, rather than potential use: "land worked (ploughed or tilled) regularly, generally under a system of crop rotation."[4]

Arable land area[edit]

World map of arable land, percentage by country (2006)[5]

According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations the world's arable land amounted to 1,407 M ha, out of a total 4,924 M ha land used for agriculture, as for year 2013.[6]

Arable land area ('000 km2)[7][8]
Rank Country or region 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
 World 13,866 13,873 13,880 13,962 13,958
1  India 1,579 1,578 1,575 1,574 1,562
2  United States 1,631 1,605 1,598 1,602 1,551
3  Russia 1,216 1,218 1,200 1,215 1,197
4  China 1,086 1,100 1,114 1,116 1,065
5  European Union 1,091 1,089 1,074 1,074 1,083
6  Brazil 702 704 703 719 726
7  Australia 440 471 426 477 471
8  Canada 443 438 434 430 459
9  Argentina 351 338 372 380 392
10  Nigeria 370 340 360 360 350
11  Ukraine 325 325 325 325 325

Arable land (hectares per person)[edit]

Arable land (hectares per person)[7]
Country Name 2013
Afghanistan 0.253727694940112
Albania 0.213039053362296
Algeria 0.196306853259698
American Samoa 0.0542475859824238
Andorra 0.0382071618666175
Angola 0.208971246494721
Antigua and Barbuda 0.0444518530866255
Argentina 0.933253004163024
Armenia 0.149789853057558
Aruba 0.0194323801750857
Australia 1.99932059695589
Austria 0.159681580305152
Azerbaijan 0.204453720536305
Bahamas, The 0.0211729272365889
Bahrain 0.00118568844405811
Bangladesh 0.04885548051274
Barbados 0.0389376396002874
Belarus 0.588780900063385
Belgium 0.0729690917771434
Belize 0.226617043344868
Benin 0.261571334571825
Bermuda 0.00461531361055984
Bhutan 0.132779071262077
Bolivia 0.42673360044408
Bosnia and Herzegovina 0.264153598255854
Botswana 0.124970709989846
Brazil 0.37211559692557
British Virgin Islands 0.0344139307591713
Brunei Darussalam 0.0121506978145755
Bulgaria 0.478863720670629
Burkina Faso 0.362900898671396
Burundi 0.114657433685723
Cabo Verde 0.108426086922237
Cambodia 0.27489355087129
Cameroon 0.27913887996695
Canada 1.30605456631408
Cayman Islands 0.00342647638301153
Central African Republic 0.382110600639653
Chad 0.372742965275265
Channel Islands 0.0257188321059838
Chile 0.0744772665966956
China 0.0778853379304248
Colombia 0.0355284335933971
Comoros 0.0864710115911065
Congo, Dem. Rep. 0.0978596833004284
Congo, Rep. 0.125161173456547
Costa Rica 0.0492942319586829
Côte d'Ivoire 0.134119613421026
Croatia 0.205936101063776
Cuba 0.277790856857709
Curaçao ..
Cyprus 0.0699863005539341
Czech Republic 0.299497673257835
Denmark 0.428785246197104
Djibouti 0.00231333149809034
Dominica 0.083327546698146
Dominican Republic 0.077810354379478
Ecuador 0.0762388234140281
Egypt, Arab Rep. 0.0312507458147998
El Salvador 0.119875644618963
Equatorial Guinea 0.150549127944176
Eritrea ..
Estonia 0.479515507243188
Ethiopia 0.159890651249989
Faroe Islands 0.0621220906154228
Fiji 0.187396293187747
Finland 0.408919185463724
France 0.277476400363626
French Polynesia 0.00903290144020581
Gabon 0.196927805054804
Gambia, The 0.235687602510716
Georgia 0.119438559322034
Germany 0.144595177517062
Ghana 0.179633175296907
Gibraltar ..
Greece 0.232280071947544
Greenland 0.0159339978400581
Grenada 0.0283280769012861
Guam 0.0060561648730325
Guatemala 0.0639037172945943
Guinea 0.259441885268773
Guinea-Bissau 0.170732179259683
Guyana 0.551881455863281
Haiti 0.102576402883298
Honduras 0.129951883404113
Hong Kong SAR, China 0.000431304347826087
Hungary 0.445058476216006
Iceland 0.374346746395523
India 0.122704289304439
Indonesia 0.0935255352331068
Iran, Islamic Rep. 0.192838995575578
Iraq 0.146595899548502
Ireland 0.242046289341221
Isle of Man 0.253290462862298
Israel 0.0354612569017929
Italy 0.113341400102148
Jamaica 0.0442042842055514
Japan 0.0332734873891873
Jordan 0.03201737753561
Kazakhstan 1.7255195469401
Kenya 0.132744737065977
Kiribati 0.0184257075471698
Korea, Dem. People’s Rep. 0.0943937920215555
Korea, Rep. 0.0297851425504218
Kosovo ..
Kuwait 0.00294961528390465
Kyrgyz Republic 0.223092523952724
Lao PDR 0.226292309176997
Latvia 0.600204606172866
Lebanon 0.0249669471665352
Lesotho 0.119103569218568
Liberia 0.116449899061227
Libya 0.274497856443047
Liechtenstein 0.0701943844492441
Lithuania 0.77442219246175
Luxembourg 0.11493300942285
Macao SAR, China ..
Macedonia, FYR 0.199272101953976
Madagascar 0.152674705993228
Malawi 0.234710959012919
Malaysia 0.0323769881473073
Maldives 0.0099236641221374
Mali 0.386388772920023
Malta 0.021186941096997
Marshall Islands 0.0378888341605729
Mauritania 0.1161984814666
Mauritius 0.0595875114110084
Mexico 0.18567140586566
Micronesia, Fed. Sts. 0.0192830559787115
Moldova 0.510317920195944
Monaco ..
Mongolia 0.198099171299123
Montenegro 0.0125562010730723
Morocco 0.240488910217852
Mozambique 0.213471930141405
Myanmar 0.203307314765794
Namibia 0.340919938361675
Nauru ..
Nepal 0.07594759989238
Netherlands 0.0617932221690088
New Caledonia 0.023574144486692
New Zealand 0.123139956326962
Nicaragua 0.252958215137598
Niger 0.866066705764948
Nigeria 0.196740453923163
Northern Mariana Islands 0.0185635523213722
Norway 0.158728315073776
Oman 0.00964956466897642
Pakistan 0.16816355780797
Palau 0.0478034322864382
Panama 0.147936651581332
Papua New Guinea 0.0410460503848478
Paraguay 0.695983663871442
Peru 0.135937750129141
Philippines 0.0572912163566812
Poland 0.283699905226566
Portugal 0.106719758790395
Puerto Rico 0.0169770828862933
Qatar 0.00671492912918172
Romania 0.437656843507354
Russian Federation 0.851805666697125
Rwanda 0.106742179047932
Samoa 0.0420190136036557
San Marino 0.0318562645344207
São Tomé and Príncipe 0.0477010296842959
Saudi Arabia 0.10158586865073
Senegal 0.228534605870273
Serbia 0.460488444378188
Seychelles 0.000889877641824249
Sierra Leone 0.256301365672853
Singapore 0.000105571938756422
Sint Maarten (Dutch part) ..
Slovak Republic 0.257509476958351
Slovenia 0.0845164913956775
Solomon Islands 0.035670652862124
Somalia 0.107127306292648
South Africa 0.234996789127894
South Sudan ..
Spain 0.269626509369521
Sri Lanka 0.0631711939355654
St. Kitts and Nevis 0.0920793355555146
St. Lucia 0.0164559392227311
St. Martin (French part) ..
St. Vincent and the Grenadines 0.0457343565633375
Sudan 0.344614315642898
Suriname 0.112475396007123
Swaziland 0.139928244796069
Sweden 0.27040599126347
Switzerland 0.0499051468437622
Syrian Arab Republic 0.241271965931281
Tajikistan 0.106017164425472
Tanzania 0.268852232181505
Thailand 0.249216391612915
Timor-Leste 0.131348251670029
Togo 0.3824660806709
Tonga 0.152179495715196
Trinidad and Tobago 0.0185426926956625
Tunisia 0.262067698525697
Turkey 0.269916265740081
Turkmenistan 0.370222790151616
Turks and Caicos Islands 0.0302087424100535
Tuvalu ..
Uganda 0.188661772014717
Ukraine 0.715020576131687
United Arab Emirates 0.00414824018377036
United Kingdom 0.0977011277374178
United States 0.47984783365549
Uruguay 0.681931085640744
Uzbekistan 0.145487250026452
Vanuatu 0.0789998617502419
Venezuela, RB 0.0891794156072895
Vietnam 0.0714074833304553
Virgin Islands (U.S.) 0.00954772429991312
West Bank and Gaza 0.0110324820254486
Yemen, Rep. 0.0488775072878596
Zambia 0.242685237378302
Zimbabwe 0.268490757071442

Non-arable land[edit]

Water Buffalo ploughing rice fields near Salatiga, Central Java, Indonesia

Agricultural land that is not arable according to the FAO definition above includes:

  • Permanent crop - land that produces crops from woody vegetation, e.g. orchardland, vineyards, coffee plantations, rubber plantations, and land producing nut trees;
  • Meadows and pastures - land 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 unsuitable 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 limitations e.g. lack of sufficient fresh water for irrigation, stoniness, steepness, adverse climate, excessive wetness with impracticality of drainage, excessive salts, among others.[9] Although such limitations may preclude cultivation, and some will in some cases preclude any agricultural use, large areas unsuitable for cultivation are agriculturally productive. For example, US 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.[10] 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.[11] Similar examples can be found in many rangeland areas elsewhere.

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, hydroponics, fertilizer, nitrogen fertilizer, pesticides, reverse osmosis water processors, PET film insulation or other insulation against heat and cold, digging ditches and hills for protection against the wind, and greenhouses with internal light and heat for protection against the cold outside and to provide light in cloudy areas. This process is often extremely 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.

Some examples of infertile non-arable land being turned into fertile arable land are:

  • 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. This made it arable. Today, crops are grown there.
  • 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.

Some examples of fertile arable land being turned into infertile land are:

  • Droughts like the 'dust bowl' of the Great Depression in the U.S. turned farmland into desert.
  • Rainforest 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, calcium, 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.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed. "arable, adj. and n." Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2013.
  2. ^ The World Bank. Agricultural land (% of land area) http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.LND.AGRI.ZS
  3. ^ FAOSTAT. [Statistical database of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations] Glossary. http://faostat3.fao.org/mes/glossary/E
  4. ^ Eurostat. Glossary: Arable land. http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Glossary:Arable_land
  5. ^ Arable land in this map refers to a definition used by the US CIA - land cultivated for crops like wheat, maize, and rice that are replanted after each harvest
  6. ^ "FAOSTAT Land Use module". Food and Agriculture Organization. Retrieved 8 July 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "FAOSTAT Land Use module". Food and Agriculture Organization. Retrieved 8 July 2016. 
  8. ^ "Arable Land Area". The Helgi Library. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  9. ^ United States Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1961. Land capability classification. Agriculture Handbook 210. 21 pp.
  10. ^ NRCS. 2013. Summary report 2010 national resources inventory. United States Natural Resources Conservation Service. 163 pp.
  11. ^ 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

External links[edit]