USA's Largest cultivated field?

Illinois is great farmland. I see miles and miles of open cultivated crop land. It got me thinking. Do we know and what is the country’s largest crop field? I’ll define it as:

  1. must be cultivated as in plowed, seeded and harvested regularly, so pasture and hayfields do not qualify
  2. Defined boundaries such as fencing, ditches, rivers, roads, end or irrigation line,etc. So essentially the farmer has to stop activities in the one field, and go to the next. I would allow fields that just gradually give way to an undefined open space to be included, but won’t allow the area beyond the cultivation to be counted.

I recognize there could be odd cases where natural features might create pinch points between areas of cultivation that could be defined as one field or two; but lets hope that doesn’t complicate things. I’m guessing there are fields larger than an entire section (640 acres) are there any single fields of ‘township’ size (36 sections)? I’m also guessing its in Nebraska.

I’m not sure why you disqualify hay fields. Do you think that cultivated hay grows naturally?

I don’t believe hay fields are plowed and planted every year.
Correct me if I’m wrong

Probably depends on the kind of hay.

Okay, Hay fields that are plowed, planted and harvested every year should count. Hay fields, like the ones I’m familiar with, that are not plowed, and planted every year do not count.

Thanks to no-till farming, a number of crops can be planted without plowing the field every year, including corn, soybeans and wheat.

Plowing every year shouldn’t be a qualification.

Here are some wheat farmers talking about harvestingfields that are >5,000 acres.

Is condition 2 meant to be a lack of such boundaries? If a hundred farmers each work their own land, and their lands are all contiguous with each other, is that one field, or a hundred? What if there’s no physical fence or other barrier between them, and they just each turn their own tractor around when they get to the property line?

I don’t know. There are millions of ‘what if’ questions like this. Show me the a true situation like this and not just a hypothetical and I’ll make the call to count it or not.

Just to provide a comparison, on the family property we have a paddock called Big Red which is 380 hectares (940 acres) between the fences. Not all of it is cropped, so around 700 acres in the field.

On the cousins property there is a paddock called Berembong which is just under 5,000 hectares (12,300 acres), about 70% is cropped every couple of years.

Even that would be small beer compared to some of the cropping operations in Western Australia and the Darling Downs in central Queensland.

OK, then, the largest cultivated field in the US is the Great Plains. Does that count?


Is a field allowed to span legal jurisdictions such as township, county or state lines as long as free migration is permitted between them? If not, then the maximum size would be capped by the size of the largest municipality.

Clovis Cole planted 25,000 continuous acres of wheat, near Clovis Ca.

Not every year. here in Minnesota, good alfalfa hayfields usually last 3 or 4 years before they are plowed under and replanted (but not in hay – crops are rotated).

Not plowing & planting seed every year is rather the point of a hay field. Hay is less valuable than other crops that could be planted in that field, but the farmers’ costs are less, because no fuel/time used for plowing & planting, and no seed purchased that year. Yield does tend to drop each year, because some seeds don’t re-sprount the 2nd year, and the hay is cut before it can naturally re-seed the field. And the effect of soil depletion.

OK, so why doesn’t the Great Plains count, then? It’s kind of impossible to answer questions like this without first properly defining the question.

Define a field. Your definition might be different than mine…so be it. If you want to claim the great plains is one field than have at it, I think you will find many who disagree.

Note my criteria required borders such as fencing. THe great plains is made up of many fields not one.
2) Defined boundaries such as fencing, ditches, rivers, roads, end or irrigation line,etc. So essentially the farmer has to stop activities in the one field, and go to the next.

Is that private or corporate fields … ?

More and more farm lands are turning into corporations.

And the winner of the nit-pickiest thread of the year goes to this one. Accepting the award for the thread is Sigene, who asked a somewhat interesting question and got snarked up the ass for it because the smartest people in the world don’t know the answer.

And this is why I keep coming back to the Dope. :smiley:

ISTM it’s pretty obvious what the OP is asking about. It amounts to “What is the largest area under some reasonable degree of cultivation that’s not subdivided by roads, fences, or natural barriers?”

I’ll be damned if I have any idea of how to find the answer to it.

But even as literal-minded and pedantic as I’m prone to being this doesn’t seem to me like a difficult question to understand well enough.

In the mid-section of the USA and Canada, all states are divided into sections, which are square miles. They are separated by surveyed “section lines”, which are retained as boundaries. It would be very rare (if not illegal) for a land holding on both sides of a section line to be continuously plowed or harvested disregarding a section line. The section lines are semi-public, in the sense that they are easements that can be used to cross the land, and I believe they must be preserved as such. There is often a public and maintained road along them, or at least an unencroached line of natural vegetation. (Just going from memory here, subject to correction.)

So in any state that observes section lines, a contiguous field of more than 640 acres (one square mile, or section) would be either unrealistic or impossible.