An Evolution of Land Use in Kent County, Maryland
Singleton, Carey B. Jr
Van Royen, William
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The object of this study is to determine the land use changes that have taken place in Kent County, located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland (See Fig. 1) with emphasis on recent land use changes. The principal objectives of this study will be to ascertain, analyze, and review the evolution of land utilization in Kent County. A major trend within the past ten years has been toward a decreasing number of farms and, at the same time, a decreasing number of people gainfully employed in agriculture. This trend has resulted in the displacement of agricultural earners by fa.rm machinery and farm consolidations. An increase in the average size of farms is due to "outsiders" - business men from out-of-state -- who have established themselves in the county by buying and combining principally waterfront property. Thus large estates are formed along with the restoration of Colonial homes. This type of land tenure has been bringing about utilization of the land in the form of large dairy and beef herds. Kent County has the smallest number of farms of all the counties in Maryland but it has the largest average farm size in the state. This is an area of predominantly large dairy farms with highly mechanized machinery and equipment. The major trend in the last 25 years has been from cash grain to livestock raising which has resulted from the growth of dairying. The pattern of field crops has also changed from cash grains to feed grains for the large dairy herds. This study has been accomplished through the use of field work historical data, tables, maps, and photographs. The assumption can be made that greater permanency and stability in land use may be assured by utilizing the land for what it is best suited to produce. In an agricultural county, such as Kent, the retention of the soil, maintenance of its fertility, and the productivity are fundamental and therefore, the outstanding problems of optimum land utilization in the county. Land use adjusted into a pattern set by man should be utilized according to its capabilities. Optimum production and use of the land may be obtained by utilizing it for purposes to which it is best adapted. This is essentially a geographical problem in the final analysis and is manifested by a myriad of socio-economic factors that compose the gamut of land use implications. The author's interest in this area emanates from a field course in Geography and a number of trips through parts of this county. Field work was accomplished during the spring and summer of 1952 and constitutes the primary source of data for this thesis. The initials of the author appear where compilation of maps and graphs have been drawn from research and field data. All photographs have been taken by the author during his field work in the county.