Look up arable
in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Modern mechanised agriculture permits large fields
like this one in Dorset
"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."
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[by whom?]
land such as heaths
, which could be used for sheep-rearing
but not as farmland
Arable land area
World map of arable land, percentage by country (2006)
Global agricultural area from 1600 to 2016
Arable land area (1000 km2
Arable land (hectares per person)
Arable land (hectares per person)
Water buffalo ploughing rice fields near Salatiga, Central Java, Indonesia
- 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 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 limitations – a 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
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.
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, 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 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 shallow – less than 6 feet (1.8 metres) – turnable soil is still not considered toilable. The use of artifice is an open-air none recycled water hydroponics relationship.[clarification needed]
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.
- 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.
- ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed. "arable, adj. and n." Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2013.
- ^ The World Bank. Agricultural land (% of land area) http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.LND.AGRI.ZS Archived 17 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ FAOSTAT. [Statistical database of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations] Glossary. http://faostat3.fao.org/mes/glossary/EArchived 1 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ Eurostat. Glossary: Arable land. http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Glossary:Arable_landArchived 7 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ Cultivation Archived 20 April 2018 at the Wayback Machine. Encyclopaedia Britannica.
- ^ 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
- ^ "FAOSTAT Land Use module". Food and Agriculture Organization. Archived from the original on 16 August 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
- ^ a b "FAOSTAT Land Use module". Food and Agriculture Organization. Archived from the original on 16 August 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
- ^ "Arable Land Area". The Helgi Library. Archived from the original on 5 July 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
- ^ United States Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1961. Land capability classification. Agriculture Handbook 210. 21 pp.
- ^ NRCS. 2013. Summary report 2010 national resources inventory. United States Natural Resources Conservation Service. 163 pp.
- ^ 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
Last edited on 31 March 2021, at 06:23
Content is available under CC BY-SA 3.0
unless otherwise noted.