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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Orono, Maine » New England Plant, Soil and Water Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #257335


Location: New England Plant, Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Title: Farmland assemblages and the geography of food production in Northern New England

item Defauw, Sherri
item English, Patrick
item Honeycutt, Charles

Submitted to: American Society of Agronomy Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/9/2010
Publication Date: 8/9/2010
Citation: Defauw, S.L., English, P.J., Honeycutt, C.W. 2010. Farmland assemblages and the geography of food production in Northern New England. American Society of Agronomy Abstracts. Available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Evaluating geospatial distributions of crop production systems within ecoregions is essential to resolving core issues of sustainability for local to regional food supply studies and modeling potential productivity as climate variability increases. The main objectives of this GIS-based investigation were to: (1) extract landscape-scale patterns of select perennial versus annual cropping systems across Northern New England (i.e., ME, NH and VT) using USDA, NASS, 2009 Crop Data Layers to gauge farmland assemblages; (2) relate their distributions to statewide classes of farmland soils (using USDA, NRCS, SSURGO 2.2); (3) estimate land use changes; and (4) evaluate ‘prime’ and ‘important’ soils areas currently classified as fallow/idle, barren or shrubland. All three states have prime farmland (PF), and farmland of statewide importance (FSI) delineations; however, NH and VT invoke three additional categories based on supplementary drainage (PFID), protection from flooding (PFPF), or local importance (FLI). The dominant perennial systems across the region are hay/pasture/grass/alfalfa admixtures supporting livestock, dairy, and/or egg production; these collective statewide estimates for PF/PFID/PFPF/FLI/FSI categories as applicable by state in ME, NH, VT are 164,200 ha (2.1% of landbase), 53,700 ha (2.3%), and 208,700 ha (8.7%), respectively. Corn grown on ‘prime’ and ‘important’ soils across the region was approximately 60,700 ha (72% of total corn CDL acreage), whereas the cumulative area for other small grains (oats, rye, barley, wheat, etc.) was approx 23,900 ha (84% of total small grains estimated from CDLs). Across the region, close to 279,200 ha of PF/PFID/PFPF/FLI/FSI soils have been developed; NPF losses are approximately 350,100 ha. Zonal statistics indicate that approx 87,400 ha of ‘prime’ and ‘important’ soils were classified as shrubland, barren or fallow/idle in 2009. Ecoregional geospatial agronomic assessments provide us with a better understanding of farmland soils use, help gauge crop production strengths, and begin to address the potential to meet consumer needs at multiple scales across seasons.