The population table included in an AgSite report shares the number of people and population density for areas within one mile of the selected site and within five miles of the selected site, based on data from the most recent decennial census. The U.S. conducts a decennial census every 10 years to measure the population, allocate U.S. House of Representatives seats by state and allot federal funds spending for local communities.
Within your AgSite report, click the “View map” link beside the “Population” heading to create a visual representation of population data surrounding the selected site. It may be useful to zoom out from your selected site to see the population data more clearly. The red outline of your selected site will remain on the map even after it is zoomed out.
The U.S. Census Bureau creates tracts, or census tracts, to serve as stable geographic units. Typically, census tract populations range from 1,200 people to 8,000 people. The U.S. Census Bureau further divides census tracts into block groups, which typically have populations that range from 600 people to 3,000 people.
The number appearing on the map is the density in persons per square mile for the Census block group containing the selected site. The “Map Layers” window to the right of the map allows users to alter the visual representation of population on the map. The Data Types drop down menu allows the user to map either Density or Total. Density illustrates people residing per square mile, and Total presents the total population within a specified geographic boundary, which can be a county, tract or block group. Selecting the geographic boundary can be done on the Data Geog: drop down menu. Clicking the left mouse button over the selected site causes a population information box to appear. The “Map Layers” window also allows users to enable or disable various reference map features, such as highways, place names and water bodies.
The “Tools” window provides further functionality. The tool enables users to search for areas that meet conditions set in the query. For example, go to the “Tools” window. Select “Query Data,” and then choose “Total Population” from the drop-down menu. Next, select whether you’d like to search for total population data that is equal to, less than, greater than, less than or equal to or greater than or equal to a certain value that you enter. Run the query, and click “Show Attribute Table” to generate a table with information about areas that meet the query’s specifications. Click on the map itself to learn more about the population of the selected area.
Significance: Population data for a given site indicate possible risks that farmers or landowners may experience with a particular site. For example, crop producers may experience challenges if operating their farms near population centers. In a rainy year, producers may need to aerially apply herbicides or pesticides to their fields because self-propelled sprayers can’t easily navigate muddy fields. In high-population areas, however, neighbors may dislike the spray being applied so close and possibly reaching their properties via drift.
Livestock producers may also experience challenges in high-population areas. As an example, producers who may consider operating a concentrated animal feeding operation will likely seek areas with lower nearby population densities as they would like to have fewer neighbors, who may express concerns about a facility’s odor, runoff or other features.
Communities within 5 miles
The “Communities within 5 miles” table in an AgSite report lists population data for communities located within five miles of the selected site. For each community located within five miles, the table shares 2013 population estimates for those communities, and it measures the straight-line (not driving) distance between the selected site and each community. Annually, the U.S. Census Bureau executes a survey to gather data about given legally defined geographic areas; these annual estimates are reported here.
Click the “View map” link beside the “Communities within 5 miles” heading to view city and place boundaries for the area that surrounds the selected site. You will likely need to zoom out from your selected site to see the nearby communities. The red outline of your selected site will remain on the map even after it is zoomed out. The communities will appear with their name over them. Left mouse clicking over an outlined community causes an information box containing name, land area and population to appear.
Significance: Communities near a given site indicate possible risks that agricultural producers or landowners may experience. States may have setback distances from features commonly found near communities. For example, livestock farmers may not be able to site their production or spread manure within certain distances of schools, parks or town limits.
In some cases, though, agricultural producers may rely on choosing sites that provide adequate exposure and access to consumers. For example, many value-added agriculture models rely on producers integrating the value chain and directly marketing to consumers. Producers located near densely populated areas may realize efficiencies in reaching and serving end-consumers.
- U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, Geography Boundaries by Year