Environmental Studies Program


Date of this Version

Spring 5-2012


This study examined the development patterns in Lancaster and Seward Counties and their interaction with local agriculture. The Lincoln-Lancaster Planning Department approved a development plan through the year 2040, referred to as LPlan 2040. Data from the USDA Census and the Lincoln-Lancaster Planning Department was collected in Excel and used for multivariable regressions. Historical trends in development and factors of development were analyzed, and then compared to LPlan 2040. The factors of development include the value of farmland, the number of farms, and the population of Lincoln. The focus of the agricultural analysis was the change in farm size due to the connection between farm size and local food markets and environmental conditions. Factors of change in farm size that were examined include the value of farmland, the price of corn, and the cumulative area of Lincoln. Additionally, these trends in farm size were examined over time and projected to estimate the characteristics of agricultural production in 2040.

The Lincoln-Lancaster Planning Department stated that the goal of LPlan 2040 was to reduce urban sprawl (2011). This is important because urban sprawl not only reduces natural spaces and agricultural land, but can generate hazardous environmental consequences. This study found that the planning department was successful at keeping the size of Lincoln in 2040 under the projected cumulative area based on the historical annual rate of development. Also, the size of farms in Lancaster and Seward Counties appears to be strongly bimodal by 2040. Moderately sized farms are projected to reach zero, while the majority of farms will be either under 140 acres or over 1,000 acres in 2040. This could have significant impacts for local food markets as well as environmental conditions in these counties.