Conversion of grassland to cropland has accelerated over the past decade due to high crop prices, government incentives, and a growing global human population. Conversion of grasslands leads to loss of habitat and threatens the ability of the land to provide ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration, water filtration, and reduced erosion. We developed a method for identifying remaining intact habitat across the Mississippi River Basin–Great Plains area by stacking subsequent years of the Cropland Data Layer (United States) and Annual Crop Inventory (Canada). We call the resulting cumulative plowed lands the “plowprint.” The total size of the plowprint increased by 27,159,278 ha from 2009 to 2013. As of 2013, approximately one-third of the study area had been plowed. We conclude that developing the ability to monitor cumulative change over time will allow disparate agencies and organizations to align their goals, strategies, and activities, and to measure progress in a uniform way.


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pp. 107-116
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