Have we passed peak agricultural land?

The chart here is from the Our World in Data article After millennia of agricultural expansion, the world has passed ‘peak agricultural land’ by Hannah Ritchie (5/30/2022).  Interestingly

Despite this reduction in agricultural land, the world has continued to produce more food. This is true of both crops and livestock.

We see this decoupling in the chart that presents the UN FAO’s data. It shows that global agricultural land – the green line – has peaked while agricultural production – the brown line – has continued to increase strongly, even after this peak.

When we break each agricultural component out individually, or look at it in physical rather than monetary units, we find the same trend: a continued increase in output. You can explore this data for any crop or animal product in our Global Food Explorer.

We should note:

The third, as I mentioned earlier, is that global croplands are still expanding. We see this in the chart. Other sources suggest that this rate of increase might be even faster. The World Resources Institute looks at this research in more detail here.

The article has three graphs and the data for each can be downloaded.

 

About Thomas J. Pfaff

Thomas J. Pfaff is a Professor of Mathematics at Ithaca College. He created this website because he believes that sustainability, ranging from climate change to social justice, should be included in all courses whenever possible.

Check Also

Where do we find data on crop yields?

Our World in Data has, well, the data in their Crop Yields Data Explorer. For …