Home » Land » Food Production Accounts for 57% of Missouri Land

Food Production Accounts for 57% of Missouri Land


In the past several posts, I’ve shared a number of charts and maps about population change and land use/land cover in Missouri. I’ve even been able to share some data regarding the amount of Missouri land in a couple of overarching LULC classifications. However, I’ve not had access to data for the state that classifies land into the many LULC classifications that are used for mapping and planning purposes.

Dr. David Diamond, Director of the Missouri Resource Analysis Partnership, was kind enough to send me a dataset from a 2003 study of Land Use/Land Cover in Missouri that his organization did. LULC was classified into 14 types.

Dr. Diamond cautions that this data simply represents the amount of land that showed up as each type when satellite photos were processed by the imagery software. However, I’m very thankful to have the data, as it is the best state-wide summary data I have been able to locate so far.

MO LULC Data by County, 2003The graph at right shows percentages of land for each of the types for the state. I’ve colored the pie charts so that similar types of land are in similar colors: impermeable, urbanized, and barren lands are grey to black. Croplands and grasslands are yellow. Forests are green. Herbaceous lands are red. Wetlands are blue. And open water is orange.

In a previous post, I noted that land in its natural state is thought to do the best job of providing certain ecological services necessary to support life. Wetlands are often considered particularly important, for they support more life than almost any other kind of land cover. Many species are dependent on them for part or all of their life cycle. They are also a type of land that is at risk, as they are flat, and the soil is fertile, so if they are protected behind levies, they make good cropland and/or building sites. In 2003, wetlands represented about 2% of Missouri land.

Forest land is also often ecologically rich land. In 2003, about 31% of Missouri land was forest land.

There is more grassland than any other land cover in Missouri. Missouri has a few wild prairies, but grassland also includes pastureland and also sometimes legumes used to forage livestock. I think this category is large because much of Missouri is in pastureland. In 2003, about 33% of Missouri lands were grasslands.

Cropland was the third largest category of Missouri land in 2003. About 24% of Missouri land was cropland. If one assumes that the grassland category is mostly pastureland, then about 57% of Missouri land was in uses related to food production in 2003.

Added together, impervious, high intensity urban, low intensity urban, and barren or sparsely vegetated represented 4% of Missouri land in 2003. This is the land that is farthest from its natural state, and which provides the fewest ecological services.


Personal communication by Dr. David Diamond, Missouri Resource Analysis Partnership. The data is from a LULC study performed by MoRAP for the Missouri Department of Conservation in 2003. Data from this study that can be used to create a map is available at http://www.msdis.missouri.edu/data/lulc/morap_lulc.html. However, it does not contain the detail provided by Dr. Diamond.

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