Chart of the Day: Minnesota Land Use by Cover Type

When I see “land use” here on, it often means something like zoning: residential, commercial, etc. But taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, you can also analyze the state according to ground cover (e.g. forests, water, farm fields, urban areas i.e. pavement).

Here’s a chart from MPR News and the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund showing the latter type of land use in the state:

The author of the post, Cody Nelson, points out much Minnesota has changed since the European colonialism days:

It wasn’t always like this. In 1860, Minnesota’s landscape was about one-third prairie.

Today, a blink forward in human history, it’s about a third row crops — mostly corn and soybeans to feed all kinds of animals that aren’t humans. About 11 percent is grass, and not all of that is prairie grassland.

There’s one reason for this mass shift in land use: agriculture. Specifically, animal agriculture.

Urban areas, which seem to me to be a combination of the pavement and the grass categories, are just a small percentage of the pie here. Leave the “developed” city, and you find a different kind of development dominating the state: rows and rows of crops, mostly corn and soybeans.

Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.