2010 National Resources Inventory

The National Resources Inventory (NRI) is a nationwide survey of natural resource conditions and trends on non-federal land. It is conducted by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in cooperation with Iowa State University's Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology. In addition to providing information about soil erosion, wetlands and conservation practices, the NRI is the best source for agricultural land conversion data. Typically, the NRI is released every five years and provides estimates for a series of five year reporting periods. The 2010 NRI was released in late fall 2013 and provides less complete information than previous NRIs. A full, 2012 NRI is expected to be released in 2015. 

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Changes in Developed Land

Soil loss

Changes in Developed Land 

According to the 2010 NRI, about 43 million acres of rural land (crop, pasture, range, CRP, forest and other rural land) were developed between 1982 and 2010. Of these, 24,125,400 acres had been in agricultural use (crop, pasture, range or land enrolled in CRP). The amount of "agricultural land" converted represents an area larger than the states of Indiana and Rhode Island combined.

Between 2007 and 2010, in the U.S. nearly an acre (.84) of agricultural land was converted per minute, or more than 50 acres an hour. In addition, every state developed more land.

States experiencing the largest acre increases in developed land were:

1. Texas  288,400
2. Florida 122,500
3. Georgia 105,600
4. North  Carolina  97,700
5. California 93,700
6. Arizona 82,600
7. Virginia   79,500
8. Tennessee  77,600
9. Missouri  76,200
10. Oklahoma 68,100

States experiencing the largest percentage increases in developed land were:

1. Hawaii  6.57%
2. Utah  5.73%
3. Arizona 4.06%
4. Delaware 3.81%
5. Nevada  3.70%
6. Texas 3.41%
7. Oklahoma 3.27%
8. Louisiana 3.24%
9. Arkansas 3.22%
10. Virginia 2.61%

The good news is that the national rate of agricultural land conversion declined between 2007 and 2010. The average conversion rate was 443,733 acres per year from 2007 to 2010, down 38 percent from the previous reporting period (2002 to 2007). The slowdown is probably related to the economic downturn.

Soil Loss 

From 2007 to 2010, every state lost soil due to erosion. Nationwide, the U.S. lost 1.7 billion tons to erosion. Spread this soil out to a depth of one inch, the amount of soil lost during this period would cover the states of Massachusetts and Vermont and fill more than 15.6 million railroad cars.

States experiencing the largest total soil losses in 2010 were (in tons):

1. Texas 225,044,854 
2. Iowa 146,768,998 
3. Minnesota 140,241,850 
4. North Dakota 132,950,209 
5. Kansas 101,618,510

States with the highest average per acre rate of soil loss to water erosion in 2010 were:

1. Iowa
2. Georgia
3. Mississippi
4. Wisconsin
5. Missouri

States with the highest average per acre rate of soil loss due to wind erosion were: 

1. New Mexico
2. Colorado
3. Arizona
4. Texas
5. Nevada

The good news is that between 1982 and 2010, agricultural landowners working in partnership with conservation organizations have reduced soil erosion by more than 43 percent.

States with the largest proportional improvement to average annual soil loss rates due to water erosion:

1. Oregon 61.0%
2. Kentucky  57.1%
3. Tennessee 55.7%
4. California 55.1%
5. Missouri  54.7%

The following states achieved the largest percentage improvements to the average annual soil loss rate due to wind erosion:

1. Iowa  85.0%
2. Wisconsin 71.4%
3. Oregon 58.6%
4. Montana 58.1%
5. Wyoming 56.8%
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Thursday, May 15, 2014