Agriculture occupies 38% of terrestrial surface

January 14, 2015

"According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, croplands cover 1.53 billion hectares (about 12% of Earth’s ice-free land), while pastures cover another 3.38 billion hectares (about 26% of Earth’s ice-free land) . Altogether, agriculture occupies about 38% of Earth’s terrestrial surface—the largest use of land on the planet. These areas comprise the land best suited for farming: much of the rest is covered by deserts, mountains, tundra, cities, ecological reserves and other lands unsuitable for agriculture."
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Studies cited for the 38% figure are:
Ramankutty, N., Evan, A. T., Monfreda, C. & Foley, J. A. Farming the planet: 1. Geographic distribution of global agricultural lands in the year 2000. Glob. Biogeochem. Cycles 22, GB1003 (2008)
AND
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAOSTAT). http://faostat.fao.org/site/567/default.aspx#ancor (accessed, March 2011)

 

Jon Foley et al. "Solutions for a Cultivated Planet," Nature 478, 337–342 (20 October 2011) doi:10.1038/nature10452
Published online 12 October 2011 http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v478/n7369/full/nature10452.html
[verified 4/15/14]

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