Assessment of the condition of agricultural lands in six mid-Atlantic states
Indicators of the condition and sustainability of agricultural lands covering 5.5 million ha in six mid-Atlantic states were measured in 1994 and 1995. The primary objective was to collect baseline information against which future data from the region can be compared. Soil samples and questionnaire data were collected from a random sample of 293 sites. Indicators addressed productivity, management at the agroecosystem scale, and management for the landscape scale on annual crop land. Crop yields were almost 30% higher than those of the 1980s, with a mean observed to expected yield index of 1.27. The mean soil quality index showed moderate quality for supporting plant growth. Non-tilled sites, which were mostly hay, had greater microbial biomass than tilled sites. Just over half of the annual crop land was covered by rotation plans; hay fields accounted for most of the land where one crop was grown continuously. Hay showed a lower use of applied nitrogen than seed crops. Integrated pest management was practiced on less than 20% of annual crop land. Twenty-seven different annual crops were grown in the region, with hay (all types) the dominant crop. Less than 20% of the land where pesticides were applied had high to moderately high potential for pesticides leaching into ground water. This information provides a baseline for long-term monitoring of agricultural lands in the region.
Hellkamp, AS; Bay, JM; Campbell, CL; Easterling, KN; Fiscus, DA; Hess, GR; McQuaid, BF; Munster, MJ; Olson, GL; Peck, SL; Shafer, SR; Sidik, K; Tooley, MB
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