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By 2030 Megacities May Devour More Than 86 Million Acres of Prime Farmland

Click on image for larger file. Maps show where projected urban expansion until 2030 is expected to result in cropland loss. Competing areas (red) hold croplands but have a high probability (>75%; medium scenario) of becoming urbanized by 2030.

Urban agriculture, the expansion of farming into areas farther from urban centers, and farming intensification practices (such as the heavy use of fertilizers), will offset some of the loss of farmland, say the scientists.

By Andrew Amelinckx
Modern Farmer
January 27, 2017
(Must read. Mike)


The study, “Future urban land expansion and implications for global croplands,” published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that by 2030, as much as 86.5 million acres of productive farmland worldwide—between two and four percent of total farmland—will be lost as the world’s so called mega-cities, generally defined as being more than ten million residents, and the adjoining areas, called “mega urban regions,” take over prime agricultural croplands to make room for a growing population and their activities.

The group of scientists from Yale, Texas A&M, the University of Maryland, and research institutions in Germany, New Zealand, Sweden, and Austria, found that the world’s most productive cropland—that which is irrigated—is the most at risk. That’s because 60 percent of it is on the the outskirts of large cities. As these cities expand, cropland is lost. According to the study, this irrigated land tends to be twice as productive as the other 40 percent.

“The loss of these critical farmlands puts even more pressure on food producing systems and shows that we must produce strategies to cope with this global problem,” Burak Güneralp, one of the study’s authors and a research assistant professor in the Department of Geography at Texas A & M told Texas A & M Today.

Read the complete article here.