Spatiotemporal land use change and environmental degradation surrounding CAFOs in Michigan and North Carolina

Lorrayne Miralha, Rebecca L. Muenich, Danica Schaffer-Smith, Soe W. Myint

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) have arisen and expanded in the U.S. and globally to address efficiencies in livestock production. CAFOs tend to cluster in space for logistical purposes. Efficient distribution of concentrated manures produced by these operations is often not economically feasible, which may lead to accumulation on land near CAFOs, potentially resulting in local environmental changes. Moreover, as CAFOs are established or expand, they may need more lands to apply their manures, likely driving land use changes even after their establishment. Studies have yet to investigate these spatiotemporal impacts of CAFOs. We investigated whether the presence of regulated liquid waste CAFOs is associated with land use change over time and space as well as degraded environmental conditions surrounding those facilities. We used MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer) images from 2000 to 2018 to examine these questions in Michigan and North Carolina- states with varied CAFO establishment histories. We found that cropland extent increased while savanna and forest decreased near CAFOs. Similar observations did not occur outside of areas influenced by CAFOs. We also found evidence of environmental degradation, including decreased evapotranspiration and increased day and nighttime land surface temperatures in North Carolina. This study advances our understanding of environmental impacts surrounding CAFOs. Our findings can support policy changes and highlight the need to better understand these globally increasing entities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number149391
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Dec 15 2021


  • Animal agriculture
  • Environmental health
  • Food production
  • Land cover change
  • Satellite remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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