The second important change is the transformation of cropland in pasture into production of both hay and dedicated energy crops. About 32.2 million acres of cropland in pasture would come back into hay, dedicated energy crops, and other crop production. This pasture traditionally has been planted in crops, but due to the economic changes and the surging of the livestock industry its use shifted toward pasture. Again because of change in the economic landscape, this pastureland would find its way back into crop production. A small increase in the management intensity of more than 450 million acres of grassland would allow this to happen without a significant impact in the cattle industry.
The third major change is the decrease in the plantings of soybeans. Over the duration of the period, the projected area planted to soybeans goes from 73.3 million acres in 2007 to 62.7 million acres in 2030, a reduction of 10.6 million acres. This reduction occurs in part because unlike corn, soybean produces almost no biomass residues, so it does not receive the additional benefit of the demand from the cellulose-to-ethanol industry and the corresponding potential increase in revenues. Additionally, the increased production of corn ethanol provides for an increase in the availability of distiller's dryed grains. Exports of soybeans also decline as a more stable domestic demand in the form of soybeans for biodiesel and soybeans for meal replaces exports.
The regional changes in soybean acreage are depicted in Figure 15. The areas in orange or darker indicate losses in acreage, while the areas in green indicate gains in acreage from the baseline. In the case of soybeans the major loss of acreage occurs in the plantings of the Southeast and to a lesser extent the Midwest.
Other major land uses like corn and wheat are not projected to experience a significant change in acreage when comparing the start and ending of the period. However, it is clear that as corn grain for ethanol reaches a peak around 2012, the acreage of corn also experiences a significant increase, which dissipates as cellulose for ethanol comes into the picture.
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