Lecture%2013%20-%20Agriculture

Lecture%2013%20-%20Agriculture - Lecture 13: Agriculture...

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Lecture 13: Agriculture Loss of Natural Habitat Because all agricultural land was once natural land, agriculture necessarily has had a pronounced impact on our natural landscapes. This effect has been especially pronounced in prairie landscapes, where lack of trees and deep rich soils made them especially favorable for conversion to croplands. Tallgrass prairies have lost approximately 98% of their original acreage (this area is essentially the “corn belt” of today, and is comprised of some of the Midwest’s most valuable farmland). Mixed-grass prairies are a bit drier, and typically occur in the Dakotas east of the Missouri River. They are well suited to wheat, canola, and sunflower production, and approximately 60% of the mixed-grass prairie has been lost to cultivation (the remaining 40% is generally rugged and/or rocky land that is used for grazing). Finally, the short-grass prairie is driest of all and is typically used for ranching or dry-land wheat farming (i.e., a crop is produced every 2 nd year). Because it is not as amenable to farming, it has suffered only a 40% loss due to cultivation. In addition to upland losses, we have lost about half of our wetlands nationwide. In the corn belt these losses have been much worse, averaging more like 85-90% (e.g. S. Minn, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio). About half of all land in the U.S. is used for agriculture (21% farm and idled farmland, 27%
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Lecture%2013%20-%20Agriculture - Lecture 13: Agriculture...

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