Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #40601

Title: EXPLORING DIVERSITY WITHIN REGIONAL AGROECOSYSTEMS

Author
item Burkart, Michael
item JAMES DAVID E
item OBERLE STEVEN L
item HEWITT MASON J

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/17/1995
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Regionalization, the process of analyzing spatial features to understand patterns and interactions among features, was used to examine diversity in Midwest agroecosystems. A variety of examples of aggregation and classification of resulting features were mapped to show how data from the 1982 National Resources Inventory (NRI) herbicide and nitrogen fertilizer use, and climatic information can be displayed from different perspectives. Modification of natural resources raises questions of future quality and availability of land, water, and agriculture. Agriculture occupies more than 50% of the land in much of the Midwest. Natural vegetation assemblages occupy less than 15% of the land in many areas of the region. Expansion of these assemblages may provide the potential for mitigating agricultural impacts on environmental quality and ecological stability throughout the region. Crop diversity may also contribute to sustainable agroecosystems, although it is currently limited to corn and soybeans in much of the region. Drainage of as much as 35% in some areas has resulted in loss of wetland resources and may have direct effects on water quality. Irrigation has diverted water from natural features and increased the potential for continuous leaching of agrichemicals. Excess erosion may threaten long-term productivity in parts of the region even though conservation practices have been implemented throughout the Midwest. This agroecosystem framework may be useful to find systems to improve the sustainability of agriculture and natural resources; improve resources as needed; identify areas where research into causes of degradation can yield the most information; and where policies to improve off-site damage may be most effectively implemented.