Arable land

Arable land (from Latin arabilis, "able to be plowed") is, according to one definition, land capable of being ploughed and used to grow crops. In Britain, it was traditionally contrasted with pasturable land such as heaths which could be used for sheep-rearing but not farmland. A quite different kind of definition is used by various agencies concerned with agriculture. In providing statistics on arable land, the FAO and the World Bank use the definition offered in the glossary accompanying FAOSTAT: "Arable land is the land under temporary agricultural crops (multiple-cropped areas are counted only once), temporary meadows for mowing or pasture, land under market and kitchen gardens and land temporarily fallow (less than five years). The abandoned land resulting from shifting cultivation is not included in this category. Data for 'Arable land' are not meant to indicate the amount of land that is potentially cultivable." A more concise definition appearing in the Eurostat glossary similarly refers to actual, rather than potential use: "land worked (ploughed or tilled) regularly, generally under a system of crop rotation".


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