What does arable land mean?
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Arable land (from the Latin: arable, “able to be plowed”) is any land capable of being ploughed and used to grow crops. The abandoned land resulting from shifting cultivation is not included in this category.
Most of the arable land on earth is around the largest rivers on earth; for example, the Nile River, the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the Yellow River, the Amazon River, the Ganges and the Rhine River. These rivers flood regularly, overspilling their banks. When the flood is over, the rivers recede, leaving behind rich silt. This silt is an excellent fertilizer for crops. Even if the land is overfarmed, and all the nutrients are depleted from the soil, the land renews its fertility when the next flood comes. Thus, flood control projects such as levees may increase human comfort, but cause a substantial adverse impact on the quantity and quality of arable land.
“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.”
Arable land is defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as land under temporary crops (double-cropped areas are counted once), temporary meadows for mowing or for pasture, land under market or kitchen gardens, and land that is temporarily fallow; From Land Restoration, 2016.