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Arable land (from the la,
arabilis
arabilis
, "able to be
plough A plough or plow ( US; both ) is a farm tool for loosening or turning the soil before sowing seed or planting. Ploughs were traditionally drawn by oxen and horses, but in modern farms are drawn by tractors. A plough may have a wooden, iron or s ...

plough
ed") is any land capable of being
plough A plough or plow ( US; both ) is a farm tool for loosening or turning the soil before sowing seed or planting. Ploughs were traditionally drawn by oxen and horses, but in modern farms are drawn by tractors. A plough may have a wooden, iron or s ...

plough
ed and used to grow
crop A crop is a plant that can be grown and harvested extensively for profit or subsistence. Crops may refer either to the harvested parts or to the harvest in a more refined state. Most crops are cultivated in agriculture or aquaculture. A crop ma ...

crop
s.''
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal of the , published by (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a comprehensive resource to scholars and academic researchers, as well as desc ...
'', "arable, ''adj''. and ''n.''" Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2013.
Alternatively, for the purposes of
agricultural Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors such as watching tele ...

agricultural
statistics, the term often has a more precise definition: 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 Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of different types of crop A crop is a plant that can be grown and harvested extensively for profit or subsistence. Crops may refer either to the harvested parts or to the harvest in a more r ...
". Non-arable land can sometimes be converted to arable land through methods such as loosening and
tillingTilling can mean: * Tillage Tillage is the agricultural preparation of soil by mechanical agitation of various types, such as digging, stirring, and overturning. Examples of human-powered tilling methods using hand tools include shoveling, ...
(breaking up) of the
soil Surface-water- gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland.">Northern_Ireland.html" ;"title="glacial till, Northern Ireland">glacial till, Northern Ireland. Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms tha ...

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 with pasturable land such as
heath A heath () is a shrubland Shrubland, scrubland, scrub, brush, or bush is a plant community characterized by vegetation dominance (ecology), dominated by shrubs, often also including grasses, Herbaceous plant, herbs, and geophytes. Shrubland m ...

heath
s, which could be used for sheep-rearing but not as
farmland Agricultural land is typically land ''devoted to'' agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentism, sedentary human civilization, whe ...

farmland
.


Arable land area

According to the
Food and Agriculture Organization The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture; it, Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite per l'Alimentazione e l'Agricoltura is a list of specialized ...
of the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for har ...

United Nations
, in the year 2013, the world's arable land amounted to 1.407 billion hectares, out of a total of 4.924 billion hectares of land used for agriculture.


Arable land (hectares per person)


Non-arable land

Agricultural land Agricultural land is typically land ''devoted to'' agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentism, sedentary human civilization, whe ...

Agricultural land
that is not arable according to the FAO definition above includes: *
Permanent crop A permanent crop is one produced from plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the plant kingdom encompassed all living things that were not animals, and included algae ...
land that produces crops from woody vegetation, e.g. orchardland, vineyards, coffee plantations, rubber plantations, and land producing nut trees; * Meadows and
pasture Pasture (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Rom ...

pasture
sland 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 limitationsa 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 Livestock are the domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictable ...
.NRCS. 2013. Summary report 2010 national resources inventory. United States Natural Resources Conservation Service. 163 pp. 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.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 Similar examples can be found in many
rangeland File:Salsola tragus monoculture post restoration.JPG, 250px, Weeds are all that remains in Idaho after overgrazing, wildfires, and subsequent invasive species, invasion by introduced species, non-native species. Kali tragus, Russian thistle (''Kal ...
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 Starvation is a severe deficiency in caloric energy In , energy is the that must be to a or to perform on the body, or to it. Energy is a ; the law of states that energy can be in form, but not created or destroyed. The unit of ...

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 Desalination is a process that takes away mineral components from saline water Saline water (more commonly known as salt water) is water that contains a high concentration of solvation, dissolved salts (mainly sodium chloride). The salt conce ...
plants, planting trees for shade in the desert,
hydroponic Hydroponics is a type of horticulture Horticulture is the art of cultivating plants in gardens to produce food and medicinal ingredients, or for comfort and ornamental purposes. Horticulturists grow flowers, fruits and nuts, vegetables and her ...
s, fertilizer, nitrogen fertilizer,
pesticide Pesticides are substances that are meant to control pest (organism), pests. The term pesticide includes all of the following: herbicide, insecticides (which may include insect growth regulators, termiticides, etc.) nematicide, molluscicide, pi ...
s,
reverse osmosis Reverse osmosis (RO) is a water purification process that uses a partially permeable membrane to separate ions, unwanted molecules and larger particles from drinking water. In reverse osmosis, an applied pressure is used to overcome osmotic press ...

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 shallowless than turnable soil is still not considered toilable. The use of artifice is an open-air none recycled water hydroponics relationship. 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 The Aran Islands ( ; gle, Oileáin Árann, ) or The Arans (''na hÁrainneacha'' ) are a group of three islands at the mouth of Galway Bay Galway Bay ( Irish: ''Loch Lurgain'' or ''Cuan na Gaillimhe'') is a large bay (or sea lough Loc ...
: These islands off the west coast of Ireland, (not to be confused with the
Isle of Arran The Isle of Arran (; sco, Isle o Arran; gd, Eilean Arainn) or simply Arran is an island off the west coast of Scotland. It is the largest island in the Firth of Clyde The Firth of Clyde is the mouth of the River Clyde. It is located on t ...

Isle of Arran
in Scotland's
Firth of Clyde The Firth of Clyde is the mouth of the River Clyde. It is located on the west coast of Scotland and constitutes the deepest coastal waters in the British Isles (It is 164m deep at its deepest point). The firth is sheltered from the Atlantic Ocea ...
), 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 Desalination is a process that takes away mineral components from saline water Saline water (more commonly known as salt water) is water that contains a high concentration of solvation, dissolved salts (mainly sodium chloride). The salt conce ...
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 Slash-and-burn agriculture is a farming method that involves the cutting and burning of plants in a forest A forest is an area of land dominated by trees. Hundreds of definitions of forest are used throughout the world, incorporating ...
agriculture uses nutrients in wood ash, but these expire within a few years. *
Terra preta ''Terra preta'' (, locally , literally "black soil" in Portuguese) is a type of very dark, fertile artificial ( anthropogenic) soil Soil (often stylized as SOiL) is an American rock band that was formed in Chicago (''City in a Garden''); ...
, fertile tropical soils created by adding charcoal. Examples of fertile arable land being turned into infertile land include: * Droughts such as the "
Dust Bowl The Dust Bowl was a period of severe dust storms that greatly damaged the ecology and agriculture of the American and Canadian prairies during the 1930s; severe drought and a failure to apply dryland farming methods to prevent the aeolian pr ...
" of the
Great Depression The Great Depression was a severe worldwide that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning . The timing of the Great Depression varied around the world; in most countries, it started in 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s. It was the l ...
in the US turned farmland into desert. *
Rainforest Rainforests are characterized by a closed and continuous tree canopy Canopy may refer to: Plants * Canopy (biology), aboveground portion of plant community or crop (including forests) * Canopy (grape), aboveground portion of grapevine Religi ...

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 Slash-and-burn agriculture is a farming method that involves the cutting and burning of plants in a forest A forest is an area of land dominated by trees. Hundreds of definitions of forest are used throughout the world, incorporating ...
deforestation deforestation in 1750-2004 (net loss) showing anthropogenic modification of remaining forest. File:MODIS (2020-08-01).jpg, 300px, Dry seasons, exacerbated by climate change, and the use of slash-and-burn methods for clearing tropical forest ...
, an element of
shifting cultivation Shifting cultivation is an agricultural Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated ...

shifting cultivation
practiced by many natives. * Each year, arable land is lost due to
desertification Desertification is a type of in in which biological productivity is lost due to natural processes or induced by human activities whereby fertile areas become increasingly arid. It is the spread of arid areas caused by a variety of factors, s ...
and human-induced
erosion In , erosion is the action of surface processes (such as or ) that removes , , or dissolved material from one location on the , and then it to another location. Erosion is distinct from which involves no movement. Removal of rock or soil as ...

erosion
. Improper irrigation of farm land can wick the
sodium Sodium is a with the  Na (from Latin ''natrium'') and  11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive . Sodium is an , being in of the periodic table. Its only stable is 23Na. The free metal does not occur in nature, and must be ...

sodium
,
calcium Calcium is a with the Ca and 20. As an , calcium is a reactive metal that forms a dark oxide-nitride layer when exposed to air. Its physical and chemical properties are most similar to its heavier homologues and . It is the fifth most abun ...

calcium
, and
magnesium Magnesium is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same ...

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

*
Soil fertility Soil fertility refers to the ability of soil File:Stagnogley.JPG, Surface-water-Gley soil, gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland. Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms that together support li ...
* Land use statistics by country *
List of environment topics The natural environment, commonly referred to simply as the environment, includes all living and non-living things occurring naturally on Earth. The natural environment includes complete ecological units that function as natural systems withou ...
* Development easement


References


External links


Surface area of the Earth

Article
from Technorati on Shrinking Arable Farmland in the world {{Authority control Agricultural land