For years, I’ve been hearing stories about the changing agricultural landscape of the northern plains. Grasslands are disappearing, farmers told me. They’re being replaced by fields of corn and soybeans.
This week, those stories got a big dose of scientific, peer-reviewed validation. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows actual pictures — derived from satellite data — of that changing landscape. The images show that farmers in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska converted 1.3 million acres of grassland into soybean and corn production between 2006 and 2011.