, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 237-247

Land use changes and net primary production in the Georgia, USA, landscape: 1935–1982

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Land use since 1935 was quantified for Georgia, USA, and for a sample of 20 counties from the major physiographic regions within the state. Statistical data on crop production, pasture productivity, and forest growth were used to estimate net primary production. Appropriate harvest indices (ratio of crop yield to total plant production) were used to correct crop yield data for different decades. Net primary production (NPP) of the Georgia landscape increased from 2.5 to 6.4 tonnes/ha from 1935 to 1982, but varied considerably among land uses and physiographic regions. NPP in the piedmont and mountains reached a plateau between 1960 and 1982, but the upper and lower coastal plains showed a continued linear increase in NPP. In all regions, NPP rose most between 1960 and 1982, coinciding with increases in inputs such as fertilizer and irrigation. Natural ecosystem NPP for Georgia is approximately 16–18 tonnes/ha, and the estimated actual NPP is thus considerably less than the potential. Spatial and temporal patterns of NPP may be a useful basis for evaluating the biological performance of a landscape.