Agricultural land (also agricultural area) denotes the land suitable for agricultural production, both crops and livestock. It is one of the main resources in agriculture. The standard classification (used, e.g., by FAO — Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) divides agricultural land into the following components, with their respective global land area in 2009:
- Arable land (13,812,040 km²) - land under annual crops, such as cereals, cotton, other technical crops, potatoes, vegetables, and melons; also includes land left temporarily fallow.
- Permanent Crops (1,484,087 km²) - Orchards and vineyards (e.g., fruit plantations).
- Permanent Pastures (33,556,943 km²) - areas for natural grasses and grazing of livestock, such as Meadows and pastures.
The first two components — arable land and land in permanent crops — constitute so-called cultivable land. The part of arable land actually under crops is called sown land or cropped land. The term farmland is ambiguous in the sense that it may refer, on the one hand, to agricultural land and, on the other hand, to cultivable or even only arable land.
Depending on the use of artificial irrigation, agricultural land is divided into irrigated and non-irrigated land. In arid and semi-arid countries agriculture is often confined to irrigated land, with very little farming possible in non-irrigated or rainfed areas.
Agricultural land constitutes only a part of any country's territory, which in addition also includes areas not suitable for agriculture, such as forests, mountains, and inland water bodies. Agricultural land covers 33% of the world's land area, with arable land representing less than one-third of agricultural land (9.3% of the world's land area).
In the context of zoning, agricultural land (or more properly agriculturally zoned land) refers to plots that may be used for agricultural activities, regardless of the physical type or quality of land. In some areas, agricultural land is protected so that it can be farmed without threat of development. For example, the Agricultural Land Reserve ALR in British Columbia, Canada, is managed by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), and removing or subdividing land within the ALR must be approved by the ALC.
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Famous quotes containing the word land:
“Gone are the days when my heart was young and gay,
Gone are my friends from the cotton fields away,
Gone from the earth to a better land I know,
I hear their gentle voices calling Old Black Joe.”
—Stephen Collins Foster (18261864)