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Agricultural capacity to increase the production of select fruits and vegetables in the US: A geospatial modeling analysis

Zachary Conard, Christian Peters, Kenneth Chui, Lisa Jahns, Timothy Griffin
International journal of environmental research and public health 2017 v.14 no.10 pp. -
air temperature, atmospheric precipitation, cropland, economic productivity, fruit growing, fruit yield, fruits, geographic information systems, geospatial data processing, nutrient content, soil depth, soil types, vegetable growing, vegetable yield, vegetables, United States
The capacity of US agriculture to increase the output of specific foods to accommodate increased demand is not well documented. This research uses geospatial modeling to examine the capacity of the US agricultural landbase to increase the per capita availability of an example set of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. These fruits and vegetables were selected based on nutrient content and an increasing trend of domestic production and consumption. Geographic information system models were parameterized to identify agricultural land areas meeting crop-specific growing requirements for monthly precipitation and temperature; soil depth and type; cropland availability; and proximity to existing production centers. The results of these analyses demonstrate that crop production can be expanded by nearly 144,000 ha within existing national production centers, generating an additional 0.05 cup-equivalents of fruits and vegetables per capita per day, representing a 1.7% increase above current total F&V availability. Expanding the size of national crop production centers can further increase the availability of all F&V by 2.5–5.4%, which is still less than the recommended amount. Challenges to increasing F&V production in the US include lack of labor availability, barriers to adoption among producers, and threats to crop yields from environmental concerns.