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ARS Home » Plains Area » Grand Forks, North Dakota » Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center » Healthy Body Weight Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #344869

Research Project: Biology of Obesity Prevention

Location: Healthy Body Weight Research

Title: Agricultural capacity to increase the production of select fruits and vegetables in the US: A geospatial modeling analysis

item Conrad, Zachary
item PETERS, CHRISTIAN - Tufts University
item CHUI, KENNETH - Tufts University
item Jahns, Lisa
item GRIFFIN, TIMOTHY - Tufts University

Submitted to: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/22/2017
Publication Date: 9/23/2017
Publication URL:
Citation: Conrad, Z.S., Peters, C., Chui, K., Jahns, L.A., Griffin, T.S. 2017. Agricultural capacity to increase the production of select fruits and vegetables in the US: A geospatial modeling analysis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 14(10). https://doi:10.3390/ijerph14101106.

Interpretive Summary: Americans are regularly advised to increase their fruit and vegetable consumption, but little is known about whether the US agricultural system can accommodate increased demand. To address this, we first identified a select group of fruits and vegetables based on their high nutrient content. Then we acquired data on their growing requirements, including temperature requirements, water needs, and soil needs. We then constructed a computer model to identify areas in the country that meet all of these growing requirements for each crop. We found that there is enough agricultural land in the United States to increase production for these specific crops to increase Americans’ intake of fruits and vegetables by 1.7-5.4%. Challenges to increasing fruit and vegetable production include lack of labor and environmental concerns.

Technical Abstract: The capacity of US agriculture to increase the output of specific foods to accommodate increased demand is not well documented. This research uses geospatial modeling to examine the capacity of the US agricultural land base to increase the per capita availability of an example set of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. These fruits and vegetables were selected based on nutrient content and an increasing trend of domestic production and consumption. Geographic information system models were parameterized to identify agricultural land areas meeting crop-specific growing requirements for monthly precipitation and temperature; soil depth and type; cropland availability; and proximity to existing production centers. The results of these analyses demonstrate that crop production can be expanded by nearly 144,000 ha within existing national production centers, generating an additional 0.05 cup-equivalents of fruits and vegetables per capita per day, representing a 1.7% increase above current total F&V availability. Expanding the size of national crop production centers can further increase the availability of all F&V by 2.5-5.4%. Challenges to increasing F&V production in the US include lack of labor availability, barriers to adoption among producers, and threats to crop yields from environmental concerns.