30 Million Acres Of US Cropland Lie Abandoned

According to a study published in Environmental Research Letters, 30 million acres of U.S. cropland lie abandoned.

30 Million Acres Of US Cropland Lie Abandoned 1

According to a recent analysis, almost 30 million acres of cropland in the United States have been abandoned since the 1980s. The study, which was published in Environmental Research Letters, provides a thorough examination of property with enormous potential for the environment and the economy. Between 1986 and 2018, the area was abandoned at a rate of more than one million acres per year, according to the researchers.

The investigation mapped the locations of abandoned cropland and the duration of its abandonment using satellite data and cropland statistics from the U.S. Agriculture Department. The researchers conclude that in the contiguous United States, cropland amounted to approximately 12.3 million hectares, or 30.39 million acres, went unutilized throughout the study period.

The Ogallala Aquifer, whose groundwater irrigates portions of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming, has been drying out due to excessive pumping and droughts. This area has seen the largest changes. There were also areas around Mississippi, the Atlantic Coast, North Dakota, northern Montana, and eastern Washington state that were high in abandonment.

The old cropland had different outcomes. While 18.6% became shrubland and forest, about half (53%) transitioned to grassland and grazing. Some of the remaining cropland was replanted, or it could not be categorized. The remaining cropland became wetlands (8.4%) and non-vegetated lands (4.6%). An average of 0.51 million hectares, or 1.26 million acres, of land were abandoned annually.

The study did not concentrate on the causes of farmers’ agricultural abandonment. However, the researchers found that less than 20 percent of the abandoned property was covered by the USDA Conservation Reserve Program, which compensates farmers for removing environmentally sensitive areas at risk of habitat loss, soil erosion, or deterioration in water quality from agricultural use.

Researchers were taken aback by that. According to a news release from Tyler Lark, an assistant scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment and co-author of the study, “a lot of the assumptions were that this former cropland had a lot of overlap with formal conservation programs.” “But we saw that they’re almost entirely distinct pools.”

Researchers suggest that by identifying the locations of abandoned croplands, they can examine potential better uses for these types of areas. “The cropland abandonment we identify here is expected to persist,” they write.

Last year, GreatGameIndia reported that Jay Van Rein, a spokesperson for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, revealed that millions of flies harvested at military bases were to be dropped over Los Angeles to sterilize an invasive species of Asian fruit fly.

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