Arable land
Overview
 
In geography
Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

 and agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

, arable land (from Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 arare, to plough
Plough
The plough or plow is a tool used in farming for initial cultivation of soil in preparation for sowing seed or planting. It has been a basic instrument for most of recorded history, and represents one of the major advances in agriculture...

) is land
Land (economics)
In economics, land comprises all naturally occurring resources whose supply is inherently fixed. Examples are any and all particular geographical locations, mineral deposits, and even geostationary orbit locations and portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Natural resources are fundamental to...

 that can be used for growing crops
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

. It includes all land under temporary crops (double-cropped areas are counted only once), temporary meadow
Meadow
A meadow is a field vegetated primarily by grass and other non-woody plants . The term is from Old English mædwe. In agriculture a meadow is grassland which is not grazed by domestic livestock but rather allowed to grow unchecked in order to make hay...

s for mowing or pasture
Pasture
Pasture is land used for grazing. Pasture lands in the narrow sense are enclosed tracts of farmland, grazed by domesticated livestock, such as horses, cattle, sheep or swine. The vegetation of tended pasture, forage, consists mainly of grasses, with an interspersion of legumes and other forbs...

, land under market and kitchen gardens and land temporarily fallow
Crop rotation
Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of dissimilar types of crops in the same area in sequential seasons.Crop rotation confers various benefits to the soil. A traditional element of crop rotation is the replenishment of nitrogen through the use of green manure in sequence with cereals...

 (less than five years). 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.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
In geography
Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

 and agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

, arable land (from Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 arare, to plough
Plough
The plough or plow is a tool used in farming for initial cultivation of soil in preparation for sowing seed or planting. It has been a basic instrument for most of recorded history, and represents one of the major advances in agriculture...

) is land
Land (economics)
In economics, land comprises all naturally occurring resources whose supply is inherently fixed. Examples are any and all particular geographical locations, mineral deposits, and even geostationary orbit locations and portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Natural resources are fundamental to...

 that can be used for growing crops
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

. It includes all land under temporary crops (double-cropped areas are counted only once), temporary meadow
Meadow
A meadow is a field vegetated primarily by grass and other non-woody plants . The term is from Old English mædwe. In agriculture a meadow is grassland which is not grazed by domestic livestock but rather allowed to grow unchecked in order to make hay...

s for mowing or pasture
Pasture
Pasture is land used for grazing. Pasture lands in the narrow sense are enclosed tracts of farmland, grazed by domesticated livestock, such as horses, cattle, sheep or swine. The vegetation of tended pasture, forage, consists mainly of grasses, with an interspersion of legumes and other forbs...

, land under market and kitchen gardens and land temporarily fallow
Crop rotation
Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of dissimilar types of crops in the same area in sequential seasons.Crop rotation confers various benefits to the soil. A traditional element of crop rotation is the replenishment of nitrogen through the use of green manure in sequence with cereals...

 (less than five years). 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. As such, it has to be distinguished from "agricultural land", which, according to FAO definition, additionally includes land under permanent crops as well as permanent pastures. In 2008, the world's total arable land amounted to 13,805,153 km², whereas 48,836,976 km² was classified as "agricultural land".

Although constrained by land mass and topology, the amount of arable land, both regionally and globally, fluctuates due to human and climatic factors such as irrigation, deforestation, desertification, terracing, landfill, and urban sprawl. Researchers study the impact of these changes on food production.

The most productive portion of arable land is that from sediment
Sediment
Sediment is naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently transported by the action of fluids such as wind, water, or ice, and/or by the force of gravity acting on the particle itself....

s left by rivers and the sea in geological times. In modern times, rivers do not generally flood as often in areas employing flood control
Flood control
In communications, flood control is a feature of many communication protocols designed to prevent overwhelming of a destination receiver. Such controls can be implemented either in software or in hardware, and will often request that the message be resent after the receiver has finished...

.

Non-arable land

Land which is unsuitable for arable farming usually has at least one of the following deficiencies: no source of fresh water; too hot (desert); too cold (Arctic); too rocky; too mountainous; too salty; too rainy; too snowy; too polluted; or too nutrient poor. Clouds may block the sunlight plants need for photosynthesis
Photosynthesis
Photosynthesis is a chemical process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, using the energy from sunlight. Photosynthesis occurs in plants, algae, and many species of bacteria, but not in archaea. Photosynthetic organisms are called photoautotrophs, since they can...

, reducing productivity. Plants can starve without light. Starvation
Starvation
Starvation is a severe deficiency in caloric energy, nutrient and vitamin intake. It is the most extreme form of malnutrition. In humans, prolonged starvation can cause permanent organ damage and eventually, death...

 and nomad
Nomad
Nomadic people , commonly known as itinerants in modern-day contexts, are communities of people who move from one place to another, rather than settling permanently in one location. There are an estimated 30-40 million nomads in the world. Many cultures have traditionally been nomadic, but...

ism often exists on marginally arable land. Non-arable land is sometimes called wasteland, badlands, worthless or no man's land.

However, non-arable land can sometimes be converted into arable land. New arable land makes more food, and can reduce starvation
Starvation
Starvation is a severe deficiency in caloric energy, nutrient and vitamin intake. It is the most extreme form of malnutrition. In humans, prolonged starvation can cause permanent organ damage and eventually, death...

. 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
Desalination
Desalination, desalinization, or desalinisation refers to any of several processes that remove some amount of salt and other minerals from saline water...

 plants, planting trees for shade in the desert, hydroponics, fertilizer, nitrogen fertilizer, pesticide
Pesticide
Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.A pesticide may be a chemical unicycle, biological agent , antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest...

s, reverse osmosis
Reverse osmosis
Reverse osmosis is a membrane technical filtration method that removes many types of large molecules and ions from solutions by applying pressure to the solution when it is on one side of a selective membrane. The result is that the solute is retained on the pressurized side of the membrane and...

 water processors, PET film
PET film (biaxially oriented)
BoPET is a polyester film made from stretched polyethylene terephthalate and is used for its high tensile strength, chemical and dimensional stability, transparency, reflectivity, gas and aroma barrier properties and electrical insulation.A variety of companies manufacture boPET and other...

 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
Seawater Greenhouse
The Seawater Greenhouse is a technology that enables the growth of crops in arid regions, using a greenhouse structure, seawater and solar energy...

 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
    Aran Islands
    The Aran Islands or The Arans are a group of three islands located at the mouth of Galway Bay, on the west coast of Ireland. They constitute the barony of Aran in County Galway, Ireland...

    : These islands off the west coast of Ireland, (not to be confused with the Isle of Arran
    Isle of Arran
    Arran or the Isle of Arran is the largest island in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland, and with an area of is the seventh largest Scottish island. It is in the unitary council area of North Ayrshire and the 2001 census had a resident population of 5,058...

     in Scotland's Firth of Clyde
    Firth of Clyde
    The Firth of Clyde forms a large area of coastal water, sheltered from the Atlantic Ocean by the Kintyre peninsula which encloses the outer firth in Argyll and Ayrshire, Scotland. The Kilbrannan Sound is a large arm of the Firth of Clyde, separating the Kintyre Peninsula from the Isle of Arran.At...

    ), 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
    Israel
    The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

    : Israel's land primarily consisted of desert until the construction of desalination
    Desalination
    Desalination, desalinization, or desalinisation refers to any of several processes that remove some amount of salt and other minerals from saline water...

     plants along the country's coast. 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
    Slash and burn
    Slash-and-burn is an agricultural technique which involves cutting and burning of forests or woodlands to create fields. It is subsistence agriculture that typically uses little technology or other tools. It is typically part of shifting cultivation agriculture, and of transhumance livestock...

     agriculture uses nutrients in wood ash, but these expire within a few years.
  • Terra preta
    Terra preta
    Terra preta is a type of very dark, fertile anthropogenic soil found in the Amazon Basin. Terra preta owes its name to its very high charcoal content, and was indeed made by adding a mixture of charcoal, bone, and manure to the otherwise relatively infertile Amazonian soil, and stays there for...

    , fertile tropical soils created by adding charcoal.


Some examples of fertile arable land being turned into infertile land are:
  • Droughts like the 'dust bowl
    Dust Bowl
    The Dust Bowl, or the Dirty Thirties, was a period of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American and Canadian prairie lands from 1930 to 1936...

    ' of the Great Depression
    Great Depression
    The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

     in the U.S. turned farmland into desert.
  • Rainforest
    Rainforest
    Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

     Deforestation: The fertile tropical forests turn into infertile desert land. For example, Madagascar
    Madagascar
    The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

    's central highland plateau has become virtually totally barren (about ten percent of the country), as a result of slash-and-burn deforestation
    Illegal logging in Madagascar
    Illegal logging has been a problem in Madagascar for decades and is perpetuated by extreme poverty and government corruption. Often taking the form of selective logging, the trade has been driven by high international demand for expensive, fine-grained lumber such as rosewood and ebony...

    , an element of shifting cultivation
    Shifting cultivation
    Shifting cultivation is an agricultural system in which plots of land are cultivated temporarily, then abandoned. This system often involves clearing of a piece of land followed by several years of wood harvesting or farming, until the soil loses fertility...

     practiced by many natives.
  • Each year, arable land is lost to desertification and erosion
    Erosion
    Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

     from human industrial activities. Improper irrigation of farm land can wick the sodium
    Sodium
    Sodium is a chemical element with the symbol Na and atomic number 11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal and is a member of the alkali metals; its only stable isotope is 23Na. It is an abundant element that exists in numerous minerals, most commonly as sodium chloride...

    , calcium
    Calcium
    Calcium is the chemical element with the symbol Ca and atomic number 20. It has an atomic mass of 40.078 amu. Calcium is a soft gray alkaline earth metal, and is the fifth-most-abundant element by mass in the Earth's crust...

    , and magnesium
    Magnesium
    Magnesium is a chemical element with the symbol Mg, atomic number 12, and common oxidation number +2. It is an alkaline earth metal and the eighth most abundant element in the Earth's crust and ninth in the known universe as a whole...

     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.
  • Urban sprawl
    Urban sprawl
    Urban sprawl, also known as suburban sprawl, is a multifaceted concept, which includes the spreading outwards of a city and its suburbs to its outskirts to low-density and auto-dependent development on rural land, high segregation of uses Urban sprawl, also known as suburban sprawl, is a...

    : In the United States, 8900 km² (2,199,236 acre) of land was added to urban areas between 1992 and 2003.

See also

  • List of environment topics
  • Fertility (soil)
  • Land use statistics by country
    Land use statistics by country
    This article includes the table with land use statistics by country. Countries are sorted by their total cultivated land area which is a sum of total arable land area and total area of permanent crops...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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