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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: New England Plant, Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Title: Geospatial Assessments of Farmland Soils and Crop Production Systems in Maine

item Defauw, Sherri
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., Honeycutt, C.W. 2010. Geospatial Assessments of Farmland Soils and Crop Production Systems in Maine. American Society of Agronomy Abstracts. Available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Geospatial assessments of current crop production systems are essential to modeling potential productivity and evaluating core issues of sustainability for local to regional food supply studies. The three-fold objectives of this GIS-based statewide investigation were to: (1) quantify the aerial extents of ‘prime farmland’ (PF), ‘farmland of statewide importance’ (FSI), and ‘not prime farmland’ (NPF) delineations (extracted from the USDA, NRCS, SSURGO 2.2 database for each county); (2) evaluate the most current patterns of landcover (using the USDA, NASS, 2009 Cropland Data Layer) in the contexts of farmland soils designations; and (3) examine annual versus perennial crop distributions. Integrating these datasets will allow us to gain a better understanding of ‘farmland soils’ use and begin to gauge the potential of these diversified farmscape settings to meet consumer needs at multiple scales across seasons. The state soil survey is 78% complete; estimated statewide raster-based PF and FSI extents are 327,000 ha (4.1% of landbase) and 837,100 ha (10.5%), respectively. The top crops grown on PF soils included potatoes (5.4% of total PF hectares), oats (2.7%), corn (1.5%), rye (1.2%), barley (1.1%), and broccoli (0.8%). Geoprocessing crop and soil layers (using cell and zonal statistics functions) has revealed that approximately 350 ha of PF and FSI soils were ‘fallow/idle’, over 2,510 ha were classified as ‘barren’, and approximately 39,050 ha were ‘shrubland’ in 2009; a subset of these lands may constitute readily accessible farmland in the near future. Statewide extents for annual versus perennial cropping systems on PF and FSI soils totaled 62,770 and 181,180 ha, respectively; whereas 12,460 ha of NPF soils support annual crops compared to 132,620 ha sustaining perennial systems. These types of state-level agronomic systems assessments linking crop-soil suitability with farmland availability contribute to meeting the USDA-REE priorities pertaining to food security and human nutrition.

Last Modified: 06/23/2017
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