Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 10, 2010
Publication Date: June 27, 2010
Citation: Defauw, S.L., Honeycutt, C.W. 2010. Geospatial assessments of cropping systems and farmland assemblages in New England [abstract]. Soil Science Society of America Annual Meeting. On-line only. Technical Abstract: Detailed assessments of the current state of crop production systems are essential to modeling potential productivity and evaluating core issues of sustainability for local to regional food supply studies. The main objective of this regionally-based geospatial investigation was to evaluate the most current patterns of landcover for Maine (ME), New Hampshire (NH), Vermont (VT), Massachusetts (MA), Connecticut (CT), and Rhode Island (RI) using the USDA, NASS, 2009 Crop Data Layers, and profile the top ten cropping systems in each state. This initial assessment will allow us to gain a better understanding of farmland distributions, potential production capacities, and possible environmental impacts, while beginning to gauge the potential to meet consumer needs at multiple scales. Aggregation of select National Land Cover Datasets (NLCD) for developed acreages reveal that RI, MA, and CT have sustained the greatest farmland losses ranging from 24.4-29.7%. In sharp contrast, ME, NH and VT are well below the 10% threshold in state-wide extent of developed lands. The dominant cropping systems across the region are hay/pasture/grass/alfalfa admixtures supporting livestock, dairy, and/or egg production. These collective coverages vary from 3.3% (687,014 ac in ME) to 11.8% (VT – with the highest acreage investment of 726,285 acres). Land devoted to corn across New England exceeded 350,000 acres, whereas cumulative acreage for small grains (oats, rye, barley, wheat, etc.) was 70,500. Fallow/Idle cropland ranges from 1,062 ac (RI – approx 0.2%) to 12,601 ac (VT – 0.2% of 6,200,000 ac statewide). These types of agronomic system assessments linked to geospatial examination of farmland assemblages contribute to evaluating our capacity to meet regional food demand.