In geography and agriculture, arable land (from Latin arāre; “To plough, To farm”) is land that can be used for growing crops. It includes all land under annual crops (double-cropped areas are counted only once), temporary meadows for mowing or market and kitchen gardens and land temporarily fallow (less than five years). 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 a category of agricultural land, which, according to Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) definition, additionally includes land under permanent or perennial crops, such as fruit plantations, as well as permanent pastures, for grazing of livestock. In 2008, the world's total arable land amounted to 1,387 Mha, and 4,908 Mha was classified as "agricultural land."
Although constrained by land mass and topology, the amount of arable land, both regionally and globally, fluctuates due to human and climatic factors such as irrigation, deforestation, desertification, terracing, landfill, and urban sprawl. Researchers study the impact of these changes on food production.
The most productive portion of arable land is that from sediments left by rivers and the sea in geological times. In modern times, rivers do not generally flood as often in areas employing flood control.
A meadow is a field vegetated primarily by grass and other non-woody plants (grassland). In agriculture a meadow is grassland which is not grazed by domestic livestock but rather allowed to grow unchecked in order to make hay. It may be naturally occurring or artificially created from cleared woodland.
The primary purpose of agriculture is food production but concern for other objectives (e.g., wildlife, conservation, biodiversity, recreation and scenery) have a long history and are of increasing importance in wealthy and urbanized countries. The European Union Set-Aside Policy was designed as a means of giving money to farmers to produce non-food environmental goods from farmland. Landscape planners are involved with the preparation of agricultural landscape plans for the achievement of non-food objectives from agricultural land.
Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), a member of the grass family, is a major cereal grain. Important uses include use as animal fodder, as a source of fermentable material for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods. It is used in soups and stews, and in barley bread of various cultures. Barley grains are commonly made into malt in a traditional and ancient method of preparation.
In a 2007 ranking of cereal crops in the world, barley was fourth both in terms of quantity produced (136 million tons) and in area of cultivation (566,000 km²).