Assessment of the condition of agricultural lands in five mid-Atlantic states
Indicators of the condition and sustainability of agricultural lands in five mid-Atlantic states were measured in 1994. Indicators were selected to reflect crop productivity and land stewardship on annually harvested herbaceous crop (AHHC) land, which covers almost 10% of the land area in this region. Overall, condition of agricultural lands in the region is good. Crops generally yielded more than those grown in the 1980s, with a mean observed/expected yield index greater than 1. The mean soil quality index was slightly better than a 'moderate' rating for crop growth. Almost 2/3 of the AHHC land is covered by crop rotation plans, with the remaining land mostly in hay fields. Insecticides were applied to less than 20% of AHHC land, and less than 20% of the land where pesticides were applied has high to moderately high potential for pesticides leaching into groundwater. However, integrated pest management (IPM) is practiced on less than 20% of AHHC land. Hay showed more efficient use of nitrogen than seed crops, and non-tilled sires, which are mostly hay, had more microbial biomass (suggesting more nutrient cycling) than tilled sites. This information could provide a baseline for a long-term monitoring program for agroecosystems in the region.
Hellkamp, AS; Shafer, SR; Campbell, CL; Bay, JM; Fiscus, DA; Hess, GR; Mcquaid, BF; Munster, MJ; Olson, GL; Peck, SL; Easterling, KN; Sidik, K; Tooley, MB
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