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Arable land

In geography and agriculture, arable land (from Latin arāre; “To plough, To farm”) is land ploughed or tilled regularly, generally under a system of crop rotation.

According to definitions and survey recommendations by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), used by for example Eurostat and the World Bank, arable land is agricultural land occupied by crops both sown and harvested during the same agricultural year, sometimes more than once. Land is also considered arable if used as temporary meadows for mowing or pasture, market and kitchen gardens; as well as temporarily fallow land — not seeded for one or more growing seasons, yet not left idle for more than five years.

Permanent crops that occupy the land for a number of years, and don't need replanting after each annual harvest — like coffee, rubber, flowering shrubs, fruit, nut trees and vines — are not counted as existing on arable land, but as existing on permanent cropland.

Permanent pastures and meadows used for grazing, land mowed for hay or silage not included in a crop rotation scheme, and abandoned land resulting from shifting cultivation is also not counted as arable, along with lands with built-on and barren areas, forests and woodlands.

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A meadow is a field habitat vegetated by primarily grass and other non-woody plants (grassland).

Meadows have ecological importance because their open, sunny areas attract and support flora and fauna that couldn't thrive in other conditions. Meadows may be naturally occurring or artificially created from cleared shrub or woodland. They often host a multitude of wildlife, providing areas for courtship displays, nesting, gathering food or sometimes sheltering if the vegetation is high enough. Many meadows support a wide array of wildflowers, which makes them of utmost importance to insects like bees, pollination, and hence the entire ecosystem.

In agriculture, a meadow is grassland which is not regularly grazed by domestic livestock, but rather allowed to grow unchecked in order to produce hay.

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Landscape of agriculture

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.

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Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), a member of the grass family, is a major cereal grain. It was one of the first cultivated grains and is now grown widely. Barley grain is a staple in Tibetan cuisine and was eaten widely by peasants in Medieval Europe. Barley has also been used 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 square kilometres or 219,000 square miles).