How Much Land Worldwide Is Used to Grow Crops?

About 11 percent of the Earth's surface is used to grow crops, and about 27 percent is used to keep livestock and other food sources. Land that is used to grow crops is known as arable land, which is different from agricultural land. About 38 percent of the land in the world is agricultural land, which includes arable land, land used for growing fruit and land used for grazing livestock.

More facts about growing crops:

  • Irrigated land is more than twice as productive as non-irrigated land and, in some cases, can increase crop yields by 400 percent. About 16 percent of croplands in the world are irrigated, which represents about 2 percent of the world's surface. These irrigated croplands produce about 40 percent of the world's food.

  • The United States has the most cultivated land in the world, with more than 650,000 square miles (about 1,700,000 square km) of land worked for food production — or about 18 percent of the country's total area. The country with the highest percentage of cultivated land is Tuvalu, where almost 67 percent of the land is used for cultivation.

  • Twenty-four territories in the world have no cultivated land, including Monaco, Macau, Greenland, Gibraltar and Christmas Island.

Frequently Asked Questions

What percentage of the Earth's land is used for crop production?

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), approximately 11% of the globe's land surface (about 1.5 billion hectares) is used for crop production. This figure highlights the significant portion of terrestrial land dedicated to agriculture, which is essential for feeding the world's population.

How has the amount of land used for crops changed over time?

Over the past several decades, the amount of land used for crops has increased, but the rate of growth has slowed down. Technological advancements in agriculture have improved crop yields, allowing more food to be produced on the same amount of land. However, the expansion of agricultural land continues to be a concern due to its impact on natural ecosystems and biodiversity.

Which countries have the largest areas of cropland?

India, the United States, China, and Russia are among the countries with the largest areas of cropland. These nations have extensive agricultural sectors that play crucial roles in their economies and are responsible for producing a significant portion of the world's food supply. The distribution of cropland is influenced by factors such as climate, soil fertility, and the availability of water resources.

What are the environmental impacts of using land for crop production?

The conversion of natural habitats into cropland can lead to deforestation, loss of biodiversity, soil degradation, and water scarcity. Intensive farming practices may also contribute to pollution through the use of fertilizers and pesticides. Sustainable agricultural practices are increasingly being adopted to mitigate these impacts, promoting soil health, water conservation, and reduced chemical usage.

How can we improve the efficiency of land used for growing crops?

Improving the efficiency of cropland involves adopting sustainable farming practices such as precision agriculture, crop rotation, and the use of drought-resistant crop varieties. Advances in technology, such as satellite imagery and AI-driven analytics, can optimize resource use and increase yields. Additionally, reducing food waste and shifting dietary patterns towards less land-intensive foods can also contribute to more efficient land use.

More Info: www.fao.org

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