Modeling Infill and Urban Growth to Evaluate Agricultural Conversion in Lake County, Florida
In recent decades, thousands of acres of agricultural land across the United States have been destroyed by agricultural conversion, in which farms on the fringes of urban areas are sold and developed as part of expanding urban growth. This study explores whether redirecting some portion of new urban growth within urban areas, (a phenomenon known as urban infill) rather than on their fringes, can help save farmland and crop yield. This was accomplished through a series of thirty-year time horizon urban growth and infill simulations for a rapidly growing but agriculturally productive county in central Florida, Lake County.
The results showed that while increased urban infill will slow the expansion of urban sprawl in Lake County, even with intensive infill a majority of farmland and crop yield in the county faces agricultural conversion. These results are attributable to the small area available for urban infill in the county and a large projected incoming population. However, the results also suggest that an increase in new urban growth density could have a greater impact than infill in curbing sprawl and mitigating conversion.