Agricultural land

Agricultural land is typically land devoted to agriculture,[1] the systematic and controlled use of other forms of life—particularly the rearing of livestock and production of crops—to produce food for humans.[2][3] It is thus generally synonymous with both farmland or cropland, as well as pasture or rangeland.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and others following its definitions, however, also use agricultural land or agricultural area as a term of art, where it means the collection of:[4][5]

  • "arable land" (a.k.a. cropland): here redefined to refer to land producing crops requiring annual replanting or fallowland or pasture used for such crops within any five-year period
  • "permanent cropland": land producing crops which do not require annual replanting
  • permanent pastures: natural or artificial grasslands and shrublands able to be used for grazing livestock

This sense of "agricultural land" thus includes a great deal of land not devoted to agricultural use. The land actually under annually-replanted crops in any given year is instead said to constitute "sown land" or "cropped land". "Permanent cropland" includes forested plantations used to harvest coffee, rubber, or fruit but not tree farms or proper forests used for wood or timber. Land able to be used for farming is called "cultivable land". Farmland, meanwhile, is used variously in reference to all agricultural land, to all cultivable land, or just to the newly restricted sense of "arable land". Depending upon its use of artificial irrigation, the FAO's "agricultural land" may be divided into irrigated and non-irrigated land.

In the context of zoning, agricultural land or agriculturally-zoned land refers to plots that are permitted to be used for agricultural activities, without regard to its present use or even suitability. In some areas, agricultural land is protected so that it can be farmed without any threat of development. The Agricultural Land Reserve in British Columbia in Canada, for instance, requires approval from its Agricultural Land Commission before its lands can be removed or subdivided.[6]

Farmland Ready For Paddy Cultivation
Photo showing piece of agricultural land irrigated and ploughed for paddy cultivation.


Under the FAO's definitions above, agricultural land covers 38.4% of the world's land area as of 2011. Permanent pastures are 68.4% of all agricultural land (26.3% of global land area), arable land (row crops) is 28.4% of all agricultural land (10.9% of global land area), and permanent crops (e.g. vineyards and orchards) are 3.1% (1.2% of global land area).[7][8]

  • Total of land used to produce food: 49,116,227 square kilometers or 18,963,881 square miles
  • Arable land: 13,963,743 square kilometers or 5,391,431 square miles
  • Permanent pastures: 33,585,676 square kilometers or 12,967,502 square miles
  • Permanent crops: 1,537,338 square kilometers or 593,570 square miles

Globally, the total amount of permanent pasture according to the FAO has been in decline since 1998,[9], in part due to a decrease of wool production in favor of synthetic fibers (such as polyester) and cotton.[10]

The decrease of permanent pasture, however, does not account for gross conversion (e.g. land extensively cleared for agriculture in some areas, while converted from agriculture to other uses elsewhere) and more detailed analyses have demonstrated this. For example, Lark et al. 2015 found that in the United States cropland increased by 2.98 million acres from 2008-2012 (comprising 7.34 million acres (29,700 km2) converted to agriculture, and 4.36 million acres (17,600 km2) converted from agriculture).[11]

Agricultural Land Area ('000 km2)
2008 2009 2010 2011
 USA 4,044 4,035 4,109 4,113
 Germany 169 169 167 167

Source: Helgi Library,[12] World Bank, FAOSTAT


The cost of Russian farmland is as little as €1,500-2,000/ha (£1,260-1,680/ha).[13] Farmland can be available in France for roughly €10,000/ha, but this is a bargain; for quality soil, realistic prices vary between €50,000-100,000/ha . Farmland has been seen to be available on the Spanish market for as little as €10,000/ha, but this is non-irrigated land.

The average Russian farm measures 150ha.[13] The most prevalent crops in Russia are wheat, barley, corn, rice, sugar beet, soy beans, sunflower, potatoes and vegetables.[13] The Krasnodar region in Russia has 86,000ha of arable land.[13] Russian farmers harvested roughly 85-90 million tonnes of wheat annually in the years around 2010.[13] Russia exported most to Egypt, Turkey and Iran in 2012; China was a significant export market as well.[13] The average yield from the Krasnodar region was between 4 and 5 tonnes per ha, while the Russian average was only 2t/ha.[13] The Basic Element Group, which is a conglomerate owned by Oleg Deripaska, is one of Russia's leading agricultural producers, and owns or manages 109,000ha of Russian farmland, out of 90m actual and 115m total (0.12% actual).[13]


In 2013, Ukraine was ranked third in corn production and sixth in wheat production.[14] It was the main supplier of corn, wheat, and rape to Europe,[14] although it is unclear whether the internal supply from countries like France were accounted in this calculation. Ukrainian farmers achieve 60% of the output per unit area of their North American competitors.[14] UkrLandFarming PLC produces from 1.6m acres corn wheat barley sugar beet and sunflowers.[14] Until 2014, the chief Ukrainian export terminal was the Crimean port of Sebastopol.[14]

United States

Prime farmland in Illinois is valued, as of August 2018, at $26,000 a hectare.[15]

See also


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed. "agricultural, adj." Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2012.
  2. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed. "agriculture, n." Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2012.
  3. ^ See also, e.g., Provincial Agricultural Land Commission. "What is Agricultural Land? Archived August 11, 2014, at the Wayback Machine" The Province of British Columbia. Accessed 1 Aug 2014.
  4. ^ FAO. FAOSTAT Glossary Archived May 27, 2013, at the Wayback Machine: "Agricultural area".
  5. ^ OECD. Glossary of Statistical Terms: "Agricultural land".
  6. ^ Provincial Agricultural Land Commission. Official website. Accessed 1 Aug 2014.
  7. ^ FAOSTAT data on land use, retrieved December 4, 2015
  8. ^ WDI –World Development Indicators online database, retrieved on July 18, 2008 (may require subscription for access; print edition from the World Bank).
  9. ^ Poore, Joseph (January 2016). "Call for conservation: Abandoned pasture". Science. 351 (6269): 132. doi:10.1126/science.351.6269.132-a. PMID 26744398.
  10. ^ "Back to the wild: How nature is reclaiming farmland".
  11. ^; "Cropland expansion outpaces agricultural and biofuel policies in the United States"
  12. ^ "HelgiLibrary - Agricultural Land Area".
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h "The future of farming in Russia - Farmers Weekly". 9 December 2013.
  14. ^ a b c d e "Ukraine crisis sends grain prices soaring" – via The Globe and Mail.
  15. ^ Doran, Tom C. (9 September 2018). "Survey finds farmland values down slightly". AgriNews Publications. Retrieved 10 September 2018.

External links

Agricultural Land Classification

The Agricultural Land Classification system forms part of the planning system in England and Wales. It classifies agricultural land in five categories according to versatility and suitability for growing crops.

Grade 1, 2 and 3a, are referred to as 'Best and Most Versatile' land, and enjoy significant protection from development.

Grade 4 and 5 are described as poor quality agricultural land and very poor quality agricultural landAgricultural Land Classification in Wales

In November 2017, the Welsh Government launched the Predictive Agricultural Land Classification Map.

This is the first update since the 1970s and replaces the Provisional Agricultual Land Classiciation Map for Wales. Importantly it distinguishes between ALC Sub-grades 3a and 3b.

The Welsh Government is undertaking the first update to the Predictive Agricultural Land Classification Map between 2018 and 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions describes how the quality of farm land is graded and what this grade means for landowners.

Agricultural Land Reserve

The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is a collection of agricultural land in the Canadian province of British Columbia in which agriculture is recognized as the priority. In total, the ALR covers approximately 47,000 square kilometres (18,000 sq mi) and includes private and public lands that may be farmed, forested or are vacant. Some ALR blocks cover thousands of hectares while others are small pockets of only a few hectares. The reserve is administered by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), consisting of a chair and six vice-chairs appointed by the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council of British Columbia (cabinet) and twelve regular commissioners appointed by the provincial Minister of Agriculture.

The ALR was established by the British Columbia New Democratic Party government of Dave Barrett in 1973, when it was considered to be the most progressive legislation of its kind in North America. It was intended to permanently protect valuable agricultural land that has among the most fertile soil in the country from being lost. Despite having been in existence for over 40 years, however, the ALR continues to be threatened by urbanization and the land development industry.

Since its inception, critics of ALR policy claimed that ALR restrictions prevented profit-taking by land owners — especially in British Columbia's rapidly growing Lower Mainland region — where in the early twenty-first century land prices are among the highest in North America. The claim is also made that owners of land in the ALR are not sufficiently compensated for their property, and that it constitutes unreasonable interference in private property rights. Critics also claim that the Agricultural Land reserve has inflated property values and created a severe housing shortage throughout British Columbia. Critics claim that much of the poverty caused in British Columbia is a result of regressive land use policies. Many ALR property owners, especially those closer to urban areas where commercial real estate prices are high, maintain vacant lots in anticipation of zoning changes, as the ALR does not stipulate that the land must produce, agriculturally speaking. However, media reports still indicate that the ALR has widespread popularity among British Columbia voters.Defenders of ALR policy respond that the province has little arable land, especially of such productivity as exists on the Fraser River delta around Vancouver, and that the ALR protects British Columbia's important agriculture sector. They also suggest that a large part of the Lower Mainland's development pressure comes from the lack of a unified land use and transportation plan for the Greater Vancouver Regional District, and the failure of municipalities to replace sprawl with density. Finally, they claim that the ALR is a reasonable extension of the government's right to zone land for various uses. Defenders of the ALR have been distressed in recent years at what they see as the weakening of the policy, by the designation of golf courses as "agricultural land" and the removal of ALR-protected lands for residential, commercial, and industrial development. This type of cumulative, piecemeal erosion of the ALR landbase is incompatible with an ability to provide a significant portion of agricultural products from local sources to a burgeoning population.

Almar District

Almar is a district in the southwestern part of Faryab Province, Afghanistan. Its northern border is the national border with Turkmenistan. The population was estimated at 150,000 in 2013. Ethnic diversity includes 35% Turkmen and 65% Uzbek.The district centre is the ancient bazaar town of Almar, 35.8464°N 64.5333°E / 35.8464; 64.5333 (also known as Alaqadari-i-Almar or Almar Bazar). Located in a dry desert at an altitude of 847m, 35 km from Maimana, this town is a major supply centre for all the villages on the banks of the Band-i-Turkestan river.

From 24 April and 7 May 2014, flash flooding from heavy rainfall resulted in the destruction of public facilities, roads, and agricultural land. Assessment findings reported 84 families were affected, 700 livestock were killed, 45 gardens were damaged, and 37 Jeribs of agricultural land were damaged/destroyed.

Arable land

Arable land (from Latin arabilis, "able to be plowed") is, according to one definition, land capable of being ploughed and used to grow crops. In Britain, it was traditionally contrasted with pasturable land 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 use the definition offered 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." A more concise 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".

Babadıl Creek

Babadıl Creek is a creek in Turkey.

The headwaters are in the mid range of Toros Mountains. The course of the river is in Mersin Province with a total length over 40 kilometres (25 mi). It is an irregular flow rate creek with the maximum flow in the spring. It is used in the irrigation of agricultural land around. It flows to Mediterranean Sea within the town of Sipahili (former Babadıl) of Gülnar ilçe (district) at 36°09′47″N 33°27′49″E.

Dawlat Abad District

Dawlat Abad is a district in Faryab Province, Afghanistan. The population of the district was estimated 95,800 in 2009.

The centre of the district is the town of Dawlat Abad (population 5000), located at 36.4372°N 64.9228°E / 36.4372; 64.9228, 447 m altitude, on the route from Sheberghan to Maimana. At one time it had a bazaar with 180 shops and caravanserais. Dawlat Abad is a centre for carpet-weaving in northern Afghanistan.

From 24 April and 7 May 2014, flash flooding from heavy rainfall resulted in the destruction of public facilities, roads, and agricultural land. Within the villages of Khair Abad, Qoraish, Sheikh ha, Popalzayi, Qozibay Qala, Jare Bagh, and Takht Eshan, 486 families were affected, 5 people killed, 250 livestock killed and 5,000 Jeribs of agricultural land damaged.

Field (agriculture)

In agriculture, a field is an area of land, enclosed or otherwise, used for agricultural purposes such as cultivating crops or as a paddock or other enclosure for livestock. A field may also be an area left to lie fallow or as arable land.

Many farms have a field border, usually composed of a strip of shrubs and vegetation, used to provide food and cover necessary for the survival of wildlife. It has been found that these borders may lead to an increased variety of animals and plants in the area, but also in some cases a decreased yield of crops.


Grasslands are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses (Poaceae); however, sedge (Cyperaceae) and rush (Juncaceae) families can also be found along with variable proportions of legumes, like clover, and other herbs. Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica. Grasslands are found in most ecoregions of the Earth. For example, there are five terrestrial ecoregion classifications (subdivisions) of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome (ecosystem), which is one of eight terrestrial ecozones of the Earth's surface.

Green belt

A green belt or greenbelt is a policy and land use zone designation used in land use planning to retain areas of largely undeveloped, wild, or agricultural land surrounding or neighbouring urban areas. Similar concepts are greenways or green wedges which have a linear character and may run through an urban area instead of around it. In essence, a green belt is an invisible line designating a border around a certain area, preventing development of the area and allowing wildlife to return and be established.

Gurziwan District

Gurziwan is a district in Faryab Province, Afghanistan. It was created in 2005 from part of Bilchiragh District.

From 24 April and 7 May 2014, flash flooding from heavy rainfall resulted in the destruction of public facilities, roads, and agricultural land. Within the villages of Jar Qala, Gawaki, Dehmiran, Pakhalsoz, Chaghatak, Dongqala, Darezang, Sar chakan, and Qale khoja, 54 families were affected, 1 person died, 289 livestock were killed, 2,000 gardens were damaged, and 1,000 Jeribs of agricultural land was damaged/destroyed.


Jamboti (Konkani: Zambotim) is located 20 kilometres (12 mi) south-west of Belgaum and 18 kilometres (11 mi) west of Khanapur in the Belgaum District of Karnataka, India.

Mandovi River, the longest river in Goa, has its origin in the Jamboti hills. Most of the area is agricultural land, and agriculture is the main source of employment. Parwad and Kankumbhi are the hill stations, with hilltop forests surrounding the area.

Kohistan District, Faryab

Kohistan district is the southernmost district in Faryab Province. Its population is 53,100 (2010). The district center is Qal'a 35.3811°N 64.7561°E / 35.3811; 64.7561, 1909 m altitude.

On 4 May 2014, flash flooding from heavy rainfall resulted in the destruction of public facilities, roads, and agricultural land. In the Shaman Dara area, 120 families were reportedly affected (10 houses completely destroyed and 50 houses severely damaged), four people died (two children, two women), 200 livestock killed, 4000 jerib of agricultural land and 200 gardens damaged.

Land banking

Land banking is the practice of aggregating parcels of land for future sale or development.

While in many countries land banking may refer to various private real-estate investment schemes, in the United States it refers to the establishment of quasi-governmental county or municipal authorities purposed with managing an inventory of surplus land.

Land degradation

Land degradation is a process in which the value of the biophysical environment is affected by a combination of human-induced processes acting upon the land.

It is viewed as any change or disturbance to the land perceived to be deleterious or undesirable. Natural hazards are excluded as a cause; however human activities can indirectly affect phenomena such as floods and bush fires.

This is considered to be an important topic of the 21st century due to the implications land degradation has upon agronomic productivity, the environment, and its effects on food security. It is estimated that up to 40% of the world's agricultural land is seriously degraded.


A paddock is a small enclosure for horses. In the United Kingdom, this term also applies to a field for a general automobile racing competition, particularly Formula 1.

Pashtun Kot District

Pashtun Kot district is located in the center of Faryab Province, south of the provincial capital Maymana. The district center Pashtun Kot is a suburb of Maymana (35.91167°N 64.78667°E / 35.91167; 64.78667). The population is 277,000 (2002) with an ethnic composition of 60% Pashtun, 5% Tajik and 55% Uzbek.Between 24 April and 7 May 2014, flash flooding from heavy rainfall resulted in the destruction of public facilities, roads, and agricultural land. Assessment findings reported 319 families in total were affected, 6 people died, 517 livestock were killed, 350 gardens were damaged/destroyed, and 524 Jeribs of agricultural land was damaged/destroyed in Kata Qala, Nadir Abad, Nawe Khoshk, Chakab.


Pasture (from the Latin pastus, past participle of pascere, "to feed") is a concrete spatial area where farmers keep livestock 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 (non-grass herbaceous plants). Pasture is typically grazed throughout the summer, in contrast to meadow which is ungrazed or used for grazing only after being mown to make hay for animal fodder. Pasture in a wider sense additionally includes rangelands, other unenclosed pastoral systems, and land types used by wild animals for grazing or browsing.

Pasture lands in the narrow sense are distinguished from rangelands by being managed through more intensive agricultural practices of seeding, irrigation, and the use of fertilizers, while rangelands grow primarily native vegetation, managed with extensive practices like controlled burning and regulated intensity of grazing.

Soil type, minimum annual temperature, and rainfall are important factors in pasture management.

Sheepwalk is an area of grassland where sheep can roam freely. The productivity of sheepwalk is measured by the number of sheep per area. This is dependent, among other things, on the underlying rock. Sheepwalk is also the name of townlands in County Roscommon, Ireland and County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

Unless factory farming, which entails in its most intensive form entirely trough-feeding, managed or unmanaged pasture is the main food source for ruminants. Pasture feeding dominates livestock farming where the land makes crop sowing and/or harvesting difficult, such as in arid or mountainous regions, where types of camel, goat, antelope, yak and other ruminants live which are well suited to the more hostile terrain and very rarely factory farmed. In more humid regions, pasture grazing is managed across a large global area for free range and organic farming. Certain types of pasture suit the diet, evolution and metabolism of particular animals, and their fertilising and tending of the land may over generations result in the pasture combined with the ruminants in question being integral to a particular ecosystem.

Peak farmland

Peak farmland is the maximum usable amount of land needed for crop cultivation (agricultural land) for a given region (country or an entire world). Supporters of the peak farmland theory argue that even with the growing world population, the need for more farmland is decreasing, as food production yields per acre of farmland are rising faster than the global demand for food. This is supported by the fact that the area dedicated to farmland in some countries, both developed (e.g. Finland) and developing (e.g. India, China), has already begun to decline. Globally, while the total amount of arable land is still increasing, the area of permanent pasture has been in decline since 1998, with at least 60 million hectares no longer grazed. It is argued that other countries, such as the United States, are at their peak farmland now.


In geography, a plain is a flat, sweeping landmass that generally does not change much in elevation. Plains occur as lowlands along the bottoms of valleys or on the doorsteps of mountains, as coastal plains, and as plateaus or uplands.In a valley, a plain is enclosed on two sides, but in other cases a plain may be delineated by a complete or partial ring of hills, by mountains, or by cliffs. Where a geological region contains more than one plain, they may be connected by a pass (sometimes termed a gap). Coastal plains would mostly rise from sea level until they run into elevated features such as mountains or plateaus.Plains are one of the major landforms on earth, where they are present on all continents, and would cover more than one-third of the world’s land area. Plains may have been formed from flowing lava, deposited by water, ice, wind, or formed by erosion by these agents from hills and mountains. Plains would generally be under the grassland (temperate or subtropical), steppe (semi-arid), savannah (tropical) or tundra (polar) biomes. In a few instances, deserts and rainforests can also be plains.Plains in many areas are important for agriculture because where the soils were deposited as sediments they may be deep and fertile, and the flatness facilitates mechanization of crop production; or because they support grasslands which provide good grazing for livestock.

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