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Agricultural Use Has Long-Term Effect on Land Biodiversity and Productivity

University of Minnesota research published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution evaluated the productivity and biodiversity of land that had once been used for agriculture and then abandoned. The study considered grasslands and savannas in Minnesota that were abandoned for agricultural use as recently as one year previously to as long as 91 years ago. Researchers found that local grassland plant diversity increased significantly over time, but incompletely recovered, and plant productivity did not significantly recover. Even 91 years after abandonment, the fields had just 73% of the plant diversity and 53% of the plant productivity of neighboring land that was never plowed. Study authors suggest that the findings support active restoration efforts to restore biodiversity on abandoned agricultural land worldwide, in order to prevent plant extinctions.