With a population and subsequent food crisis looming on the horizon, humans have pushed the extent of our available croplands to the very edge of feasibility. With little room left to expand, as this set of maps demonstrates, the best chance to grow more food lies in increasing food production on the land that is already under cultivation.
Another issue facing the available agricultural land of the Earth has to do with the placement of cities, and their sprawling suburbs. Most of the major cities of the western world were originally built as trade centers for farmers. As the city grew and spread out, it generally spread into the good farmland surrounding it. Thus over the last century, much farmland has been lost to urban sprawl.
This dataset represents the fraction of each grid cell that is suitable to be used for agriculture. It is based on the temperature and soil conditions of each grid cell.
Ramankutty, N., J.A. Foley , J. Norman, and K. McSweeney. The global distribution of cultivable lands: current patterns and sensitivity to possible climate change. Submitted to Global Ecology and Biogeography, March 2001
Global | Asia | Africa | Europe | North America | Oceania | South America
(All images are provided at a resolution of 1600×1200 pixels)
Download a GIS grid of this data (ESRI ArcView Format)
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