Agricultural Landscape Scenarios:

Farm Bill Ideas and Images

Landscape Ecology,
Perception, and Design Lab Home

Research Design to Develop
Alternative Landscape Scenarios

Stakeholder Interview Results
for Risk, Conservation &
Public Perception

How Landscape Scenarios
Relate to Risk, Conservation,
& Public Perception

Compare Four Future
Landscape Scenarios

Existing Landscape

Scenario I

Scenario II

Scenario III

J.I. Nassauer, R.C. Corry, V.L. Murphy

School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, USA*

How to use this website

This website is intended to challenge you to imagine the possible future of agricultural landscapes. Future agricultural landscapes are a consequence of decisions being made in agricultural and environmental policy today. 

Can you imagine how the Corn Belt landscape could look 25 years from now? We did! This website will show you how Corn Belt watersheds could look in 2025, and describe what policy goals could encourage the changes you will see. As you browse this site, you will learn how we arrived at the images of the future.

Landscape images that are consequences of different policy assumptions 




To study the future effects of federal agricultural and environmental policy on agricultural landscapes, three alternative landscape scenarios for two Corn Belt agricultural watersheds were used to provide precise landscape images. The landscape scenarios describe the landcover of each watershed in the year 2025. Each assumes different alternative policy emphases that could be adopted early in the 21st century, different relative public values and concerns, and different market conditions. The scenarios were designed to be a provocative but plausable basis for imagining future directions for federal agricultural policy. While none is a prescription, each draws out some of the implications of different potential policy emphasis. The scenarios in no way define a range of choices for agricultural policy. Rather they are intended to provoke consideration of some consequences of choices that could be made.

To see landscapes...

Possible Futures: Landscape Scenarios for Corn Belt Agriculture in 2025

Compare Four Landscapes
Existing Landscape
(1994) Landcover patterns resulting from agricultural policy to support prices, limit production, control erosion and improve wildlife habitat.
Landscape Scenario I
Landcover patterns respond to high world demand for Corn Belt grain crops with high use of production inputs.
Landscape Scenario II Landcover patterns and agricultural enterprises have changed to the degree necessary for farmers to efficiently achieve acceptable water quality. Landscape Scenario III
Landcover patterns have changed to increase habitat with innovative, profitable agricultural production methods.

To learn about our...

Research Design to Develop Alternative Landscape Scenarios for Corn Belt Agricultural Watersheds in the Year 2025*

To read results of our 1999 interviews with national agriculture stakeholders on...

Risk, Conservation and Public Perception
 Organizations Represented in Interviews

15 Conservation Organizations, 12 Commodity Organizations, 12 Federal Agency Personnel, 2 Academic Institutions, 2 Congressional Offices

To see how possible future landscape scenarios for agricultural watersheds relate to...

Risk, Conservation and Perception in Agricultural Policy Goals and Future Landscape Patterns
* - This research is part of Modeling Effects of Alternative Landscape Design and Management on Water Quality and Biodiversity in
   Midwest Agricultural Watersheds. Santelmann, et al. EPA-NSF #R8253335-01-0. This project is described at http://bufo.geo.orst.edu/tc/firma/ip/