A new study documents a loss of 1.3 million acres of grassland over a five-year period in the Western Corn Belt — a rate not seen since the 1920s and 1930s.
The research by Christopher Wright and Michael Wimberly of the Geographic Information Science Center of Excellence at South Dakota State University said a recent doubling in commodity prices has created incentives for landowners in South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa to convert grassland to corn and soybean cropping.
"Historically, comparable grassland conversion rates have not been seen in the Corn Belt since the 1920s and 1930s, the era of rapid mechanization of US agriculture," the authors wrote.
.... corn and soy production has expanded onto marginal lands with high potential for erosion and drought. The authors compared the land use change rate in the Western Corn Belt to the deforestation of Brazil, Malaysia, and Indonesia, but Wright said it's over a much smaller area.So there you have. Another faux environmentally success story. Grassland to corn to SUV fuel.