That wheat field is probably not there anymore. But it was big news in 1898.
There are lots of areas though the US Midwest that do have many section lines as dirt roads and a few as paved roads. But in those areas it’s also fairly common to see the lines-as-roads stop for a couple miles then restart.
So even in an area where most of the land is broken by roads into 1 square mile chunks, there are larger contiguous blocks of 2 x 4 miles or 1 x 3 miles or some weird Tetris-shaped group of contiguous blocks several square miles in extent.
Got a cite for that? It’s commonly put out there as common knowledge by people who have no actual first hand agricultural experience but not true for production agriculture as far as grain and cattle in my experience. Chickens and hogs are predominately raised on coporate farms but even there the corporation may own the livestock but contract with an individual farmer to do the actual work. Land may be owned by investors but it is usually leased to individual farmers.
Family farms as they have gotten get bigger in the last 40 years are almost always organized as corporations just like any other small business. Corporations in the sense of shareholders and hired managers are very rare in production agriculture (actually growing the crop/animal) but are predominate in the higher steps of the food chain.
The concept of the family farm as something out of Old McDonald has been dying since the Great Depression and dead since the farm crisis of the 70’s. Farms keep getting bigger and bigger, use industrial techniques, are incorporated, etc. but they are overwhelmingly still family run businesses. Farms that were dad & son with 1000-2000 acres when I was a kid in north central South Dakota in the 70s & 80’s are now the son with 5 hired men farming 5000+ acres but it’s still a family farm.
As for the OP, the biggest fields I now of personally are around 320 acres/half a section to a full section because of long established boundaries. Even with bigger blocks, you would want to have strips with different crops for crop rotation/erosion prevention reasons. Eastern Montana would probably be the best bet to find huge fields.
That is certainly true, but one cannot drive a field machine directly across a section line and consider the other side to be a part of the “same field”… The section line would stop the continuous progress of a plow, planter, applicator or harvester from moving into an adnacent field across a section line. . Here is a review of North Dakota law, showing that a landowner cannot obstruct access along a section line, for example by planting rows of crops that cross it.
Whoa. that raises a totally different topic that might need its own thread. I can conceivably walk along a section line legally even if there is no real official road there?
To meet condition #2 you would need to look into crops that do not require irrigation. I would bet that winter wheat as it is grown like in the Palouse area of Idaho and Washington would be a good example. That said I am betting that the flatter central portion of Washington state would tend to have larger contiguous fields.
According to an old print version of Guinness Book of Records I have the largest wheat field in the world is near Lethbridge Alberta and is listed at 10,000 acres. I do not know if Canada uses “sections” as a measure of land but that would be around 16 sections.
We might be talking past one another.
My experience is mostly years of looking down on these sectioned parts of the country from an airplane. I’ve also driven a few graded dirt sections when I was stationed in rural OK. Beyond that I’m no expert.
I see areas where the section lines are actual paved roads. I see areas where the graded section lines are de-facto dirt roads. Those I think I understand and the restrictions in your link make sense. AIUI even with common ownership of the parcels on each side of such a graded section line, that would be a boundary for the OP’s purposes.
But I also see areas where the section lines stop completely. On the ground there is absolutely no grading whatsoever. A graded dirt section line may go 10 or 15 miles, skip 2 or 3 miles, then pick back up again on the same alignment and go out into the distance. I’m seeing these from far enough away that if there was a fence line I probably couldn’t detect it. Some of these missing segments of section lines do have a pole line for power, phone, etc. Most do not.
My (very) amateur reading of your link indicates the owner of land there could plow and plant across the non-graded imaginary section line at will. I sure think I see that happening out there in much of the Midwest.
I don’t get up over ND too often so there may be state to state legal variations in all this.
Absolutely. And no adjacent landowner can erect any kind of barrier. But it looks like there is a kind of a leeway, where a section line can be dis-established, where there is a compelling need to and objection to.
This depends on jurisdiction and is not true in every state.
No two states laws are identical, but most follow pretty much the same pattern. In ND, for example, a landowner can apply to the county commission for a waiver, which may be granted where there is a legitimate reason for doing so and no public opposition. I have hazy recollection of section line law and policy in Kansas, but based on that experience, I saw nothing in North Dakota’s law that surprised me.
There are three main types of access: public access, un-deeded access and deeded access.
I some states including most western and mountain states there is no inherent public access based on section lines. And even private deeded access may not exist.
Often, even when there is public land which demands some form of access, there is no restriction placed against building barriers or restricting access based on section or township lines as long as some form of accommodation is made to allow access.
Section lines are purely mapping constructs in these states and are not public property, roads or access points.
Yes, and the Great Plains has a great many such boundaries. That’s why I asked if you meant the opposite, instead. I thought it would be much more reasonable to define a single field as being something without those boundaries running through it, but you said that you wanted a field that did have them.
Yes, I have heard Canadian farmers refer to land in terms of sections and quarter sections.
I thought it was pretty obvious that he meant that those features should define the limits of a field.
16 sections would be a block of land 4 miles x 4 miles. It’s certainly plausible there could be gaps in graded section lines appropriate to create such a block.
The answer to your question is timber holdings not food production land. Some of the largest personal and corporate landholders worldwide and in the US of owners planting and “farming” a harvestable product are timber holdings some sections of which are tens of thousands of acres in size.
Here’s just one