Acre

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acre
Comparison land area units.svg
One hectare, with an acre represented as the lower white-and-yellow checkered region
General information
Unit system US customary units, Imperial units
Unit ofarea
Symbolac,acre
Conversions
1 ac in ...... is equal to ...
   SI units   = 4,046.8564224 m2
   US customary, Imperial   ≡ 4,840 sq yd
1640 sq mi
Image comparing the acre (the small pink area at lower left) to other units. The entire yellow square is one square mile; the dark blue area at right represents 100 acres. Comparison of units of area.png
Image comparing the acre (the small pink area at lower left) to other units. The entire yellow square is one square mile; the dark blue area at right represents 100 acres.

The acre ( /ˈkər/ AY-kər) is a unit of land area used in the British imperial and the United States customary systems. It is traditionally defined as the area of one chain by one furlong (66 by 660 feet), which is exactly equal to 10 square chains, 1640 of a square mile, 4,840 square yards, or 43,560 square feet, and approximately 4,047 m2, or about 40% of a hectare. Based upon the international yard and pound agreement of 1959, an acre may be declared as exactly 4,046.8564224 square metres. The acre is sometimes abbreviated ac [1] but is usually spelled out as the word "acre". [2]

Contents

Traditionally, in the Middle Ages, an acre was conceived of as the area of land that could be ploughed by one man using a team of eight oxen in one day. [3]

The acre is still a statutory measure in the United States. Both the international acre and the US survey acre are in use, but they differ by only four parts per million (see below). The most common use of the acre is to measure tracts of land.

The acre is used in many established and former Commonwealth of Nations countries by custom. In a few, it continues as a statute measure, although not since 2010 in the UK, and not for decades in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. In many places where it is not a statute measure, it is still lawful to "use for trade" if given as supplementary information and is not used for land registration.

Description

One acre equals 1640 (0.0015625) square mile, 4,840 square yards, 43,560 square feet, [2] or about 4,047 square metres (0.4047 hectares ) (see below). While all modern variants of the acre contain 4,840 square yards, there are alternative definitions of a yard, so the exact size of an acre depends upon the particular yard on which it is based. Originally, an acre was understood as a strip of land sized at forty perches (660 ft, or 1  furlong) long and four perches (66 ft) wide; [4] this may have also been understood as an approximation of the amount of land a yoke of oxen could plough in one day (a furlong being "a furrow long"). A square enclosing one acre is approximately 69.57 yards, or 208 feet 9 inches (63.61 metres), on a side. As a unit of measure, an acre has no prescribed shape; any area of 43,560 square feet is an acre.

US survey acres

In the international yard and pound agreement of 1959, the United States and five countries of the Commonwealth of Nations defined the international yard to be exactly 0.9144 metre. [5] The US authorities decided that, while the refined definition would apply nationally in all other respects, the US survey foot (and thus the survey acre) would continue 'until such a time as it becomes desirable and expedient to readjust [it]'. [5] By inference, an "international acre" may be calculated as exactly 4,046.8564224 square metres but it does not have a basis in any international agreement.

Both the international acre and the US survey acre contain 1640 of a square mile or 4,840 square yards, but alternative definitions of a yard are used (see survey foot and survey yard), so the exact size of an acre depends upon the yard upon which it is based. The US survey acre is about 4,046.872 square metres; its exact value (4046+13,525,426/15,499,969 m2) is based on an inch defined by 1 metre = 39.37 inches exactly, as established by the Mendenhall Order of 1893. [6] Surveyors in the United States use both international and survey feet, and consequently, both varieties of acre. [7]

Since the difference between the US survey acre and international acre (0.016 square metres, 160 square centimetres or 24.8 square inches), is only about a quarter of the size of an A4 sheet or US letter, it is usually not important which one is being discussed. Areas are seldom measured with sufficient accuracy for the different definitions to be detectable. [8]

In October 2019, the US National Geodetic Survey and the National Institute of Standards and Technology announced their joint intent to end the "temporary" continuance of the US survey foot, mile, and acre units (as permitted by their 1959 decision, above), with effect from the end of 2022. [9] [10]

Spanish acre

The Puerto Rican cuerda (0.39 ha; 0.97 acres) is sometimes called the "Spanish acre" in the continental United States. [11]

Use

The acre is commonly used in many current and former Commonwealth countries by custom, and in a few it continues as a statute measure. These include Antigua and Barbuda, [12] American Samoa, [13] The Bahamas, [14] Belize, [15] the British Virgin Islands, [16] Canada, [17] the Cayman Islands, [18] Dominica, [19] the Falkland Islands, [20] Grenada, [21] Ghana, [22] Guam, [23] the Northern Mariana Islands, [24] Jamaica, [25] Montserrat, [26] Samoa, [27] Saint Lucia, [28] St. Helena, [29] St. Kitts and Nevis, [30] St. Vincent and the Grenadines, [31] Turks and Caicos, [32] the United Kingdom, the United States and the US Virgin Islands. [33]

Republic of Ireland

In the Republic of Ireland, the hectare is legally used under European units of measurement directives; however, the acre is still widely used, especially in agriculture. (This is the standard statute acre, the same as used in the UK, not the old Irish acre which was of a different size.) [34] [35] [36] [37]

Indian subcontinent

In the Republic of India, residential plots are measured in square feet or square metre, while agricultural land is measured in acres. [38] In Sri Lanka, the division of an acre into 160  perches or 4  roods is common. [39]

In Pakistan, residential plots are measured in kanal (20 marla = 1 kanal = 500 sq yards) and open/agriculture land measurement is in acres (8 kanal = 1 acre or 4 peli = 1 acre) and muraba (25 acres = 1 muraba = 200 kanal), jerib, wiswa and gunta .[ citation needed ]

United Kingdom

Its use as a primary unit for trade in the United Kingdom ceased to be permitted from 1 October 1995, due to the 1994 amendment of the Weights and Measures Act, [40] where it was replaced by the hectare   though its use as a supplementary unit continues to be permitted indefinitely. [41] This was with the exemption of Land registration, [40] which records the sale and possession of land, [42] in 2010 HM Land Registry ended its exemption. [41] The measure is still used to communicate with the public, [43] and informally (non-contract) by the farming and property industries. [44] [45] [46]

Equivalence to other units of area

The area of one acre (red) superposed on an American football field (green) and Association football/soccer pitch (blue) Acre superimposed over football fields.svg
The area of one acre (red) superposed on an American football field (green) and Association football/soccer pitch (blue)

1 international acre is equal to the following metric units:

1 United States survey acre is equal to:

1 acre (both variants) is equal to the following customary units:

Perhaps the easiest way for US residents to envision an acre is as a rectangle measuring 88 yards by 55 yards (110 of 880 yards by 116 of 880 yards), about 910 the size of a standard American football field. To be more exact, one acre is 90.75% of a 100-yd-long by 53.33-yd-wide American football field (without the end zone). The full field, including the end zones, covers about 1.32 acres (0.53 ha).

For residents of other countries, the acre might be envisioned as rather more than half of a 1.76 acres (0.71 ha) football pitch.

Historical origin

Farm-derived units of measurement:
The rod is a historical unit of length equal to
5+1/2 yards. It may have originated from the typical length of a mediaeval ox-goad. There are 4 rods in one chain.
The furlong (meaning furrow length) was the distance a team of oxen could plough without resting. This was standardised to be exactly 40 rods or 10 chains.
An acre was the amount of land tillable by one man behind one team of eight oxen in one day. Traditional acres were long and narrow due to the difficulty in turning the plough and the value of river front access.
An oxgang was the amount of land tillable by one ox in a ploughing season. This could vary from village to village, but was typically around 15 acres.
A virgate was the amount of land tillable by two oxen in a ploughing season.
A carucate was the amount of land tillable by a team of eight oxen in a ploughing season. This was equal to 8 oxgangs or 4 virgates. Anthropic Farm Units.png
Farm-derived units of measurement:
  1. The rod is a historical unit of length equal to 5+12 yards. It may have originated from the typical length of a mediaeval ox-goad. There are 4 rods in one chain.
  2. The furlong (meaning furrow length) was the distance a team of oxen could plough without resting. This was standardised to be exactly 40 rods or 10 chains.
  3. An acre was the amount of land tillable by one man behind one team of eight oxen in one day. Traditional acres were long and narrow due to the difficulty in turning the plough and the value of river front access.
  4. An oxgang was the amount of land tillable by one ox in a ploughing season. This could vary from village to village, but was typically around 15 acres.
  5. A virgate was the amount of land tillable by two oxen in a ploughing season.
  6. A carucate was the amount of land tillable by a team of eight oxen in a ploughing season. This was equal to 8 oxgangs or 4 virgates.

The word acre is derived from Old English æcer originally meaning "open field", cognate with west coast Norwegian ækre, Icelandic akur, Swedish åker, German Acker, Dutch akker, Latin ager, Sanskrit ajr, and Greek αγρός (agros). In English, an obsolete variant spelling was aker .

According to the Act on the Composition of Yards and Perches, dating from around 1300, an acre is "40 perches [ rods] in length and four in breadth", [48] meaning 220 yards by 22 yards. [lower-alpha 1] As detailed in the box on the right, an acre was roughly the amount of land tillable by a yoke of oxen in one day. [49]

Before the enactment of the metric system, many countries in Europe used their own official acres. In France, the traditional unit of area was the arpent carré , a measure based on the Roman system of land measurement. The acre was used only in Normandy (and neighbouring places outside its traditional borders), but its value varied greatly across Normandy, ranging from 3,632 to 9,725 square metres, with 8,172 square metres being the most frequent value.[ clarification needed ] But inside the same pays of Normandy, for instance in pays de Caux, the farmers (still in the 20th century) made the difference between the grande acre (68 ares, 66 centiares) and the petite acre (56 to 65 ca). [50] The Normandy acre was usually divided in 4 vergées (roods) and 160 square perches, like the English acre.

The Normandy acre was equal to 1.6 arpents , the unit of area more commonly used in Northern France outside of Normandy. In Canada, the Paris arpent used in Quebec before the metric system was adopted is sometimes called "French acre" in English, even though the Paris arpent and the Normandy acre were two very different units of area in ancient France (the Paris arpent became the unit of area of French Canada, whereas the Normandy acre was never used in French Canada).

In Germany, the Netherlands, and Eastern Europe the traditional unit of area was Morgen . Like the acre, the morgen was a unit of ploughland, representing a strip that could be ploughed by one man and an ox or horse in a morning. There were many variants of the morgen, differing between the different German territories, ranging from 12 to 2+12 acres (2,000 to 10,100 m2). It was also used in Old Prussia, in the Balkans, Norway, and Denmark, where it was equal to about two-thirds acre (2,700 m2).

Statutory values for the acre were enacted in England, and subsequently the United Kingdom, by acts of:

Historically, the size of farms and landed estates in the United Kingdom was usually expressed in acres (or acres, roods, and perches), even if the number of acres was so large that it might conveniently have been expressed in square miles. For example, a certain landowner might have been said to own 32,000 acres of land, not 50 square miles of land.

The acre is related to the square mile, with 640 acres making up one square mile. One mile is 5280 feet (1760 yards). In western Canada and the western United States, divisions of land area were typically based on the square mile, and fractions thereof. If the square mile is divided into quarters, each quarter has a side length of 12 mile (880 yards) and is 14 square mile in area, or 160 acres. These subunits would typically then again be divided into quarters, with each side being 14 mile long, and being 116 of a square mile in area, or 40 acres. In the United States, farmland was typically divided as such, and the phrase "the back 40" would refer to the 40-acre parcel to the back of the farm. Most of the Canadian Prairie Provinces and the US Midwest are on square-mile grids for surveying purposes.

Legacy units

See also

Notes

  1. 22 yards is about 20 meters.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Furlong</span> Unit of length equal to 660 feet or about 201 metres

A furlong is a measure of distance in imperial units and United States customary units equal to one-eighth of a mile, equivalent to any of 660 feet, 220 yards, 40 rods, 10 chains or approximately 201 metres. It is now mostly confined to use in horse racing, where in many countries it is the standard measurement of race lengths, and agriculture, where it is used to measure rural field lengths and distances.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mile</span> Unit of length

The mile, sometimes the international mile or statute mile to distinguish it from other miles, is a British imperial unit and United States customary unit of distance; both are based on the older English unit of length equal to 5,280 English feet, or 1,760 yards. The statute mile was standardised between the Commonwealth of Nations and the United States by an international agreement in 1959, when it was formally redefined with respect to SI units as exactly 1,609.344 metres.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Square mile</span> Unit of area

The square mile is an imperial and US unit of measure for area. One square mile is equal to the area of a square with each side measuring a length of one mile.

The rod, perch, or pole is a surveyor's tool and unit of length of various historical definitions. In British imperial and US customary units it is defined as 16+12 feet, equal to exactly 1320 of a mile, or 5+12 yards, and is exactly 5.0292 meters. The rod is useful as a unit of length because integer multiples of it can form one acre of square measure (area). The 'perfect acre' is a rectangular area of 43,560 square feet, bounded by sides 660 feet long and 66 feet wide or, equivalently, 40 rods by 4 rods. An acre is therefore 160 square rods or 10 square chains.

The chain is a unit of length equal to 66 feet, used in both the US customary and Imperial unit systems. It is subdivided into 100 links. There are 10 chains in a furlong, and 80 chains in one statute mile. In metric terms, it is 20.1168 m long. By extension, chainage is the distance along a curved or straight survey line from a fixed commencing point, as given by an odometer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Acre-foot</span> Non-SI unit of volume

The acre-foot is a non-SI unit of volume equal to about 1,233 m3 commonly used in the United States in reference to large-scale water resources, such as reservoirs, aqueducts, canals, sewer flow capacity, irrigation water, and river flows.

The following systems arose from earlier systems, and in many cases utilise parts of much older systems. For the most part they were used to varying degrees in the Middle Ages and surrounding time periods. Some of these systems found their way into later systems, such as the Imperial system and even SI.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gunter's chain</span> Distance measuring device used for surveying

Gunter's chain is a distance-measuring device used for surveying. It was designed and introduced in 1620 by English clergyman and mathematician Edmund Gunter (1581–1626). It enabled plots of land to be accurately surveyed and plotted, for legal and commercial purposes.

An arpent is a unit of length and a unit of area. It is a pre-metric French unit based on the Roman actus. It is used in Quebec, some areas of the United States that were part of French Louisiana, and in Mauritius and the Seychelles.

A morgen was a unit of measurement of land area in Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Lithuania and parts of the Dutch Overseas Empire, such as South Africa. The size of a morgen varies from 12 to 2+12 acres. It was also used in Old Prussia, in the Balkans, Norway and Denmark, where it was equal to about two-thirds acre (2,700 m2).

English units were the units of measurement used in England up to 1826, which evolved as a combination of the Anglo-Saxon and Roman systems of units. Various standards have applied to English units at different times, in different places, and for different applications.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vergée</span>

A vergée is a unit of land area, a quarter of the old French arpent. The term derives from Latin virga (rod). Compare French verge (yard).

The bigha or beegah is a traditional unit of measurement of area of a land, commonly used in northern & eastern India, Bangladesh and Nepal. There is no "standard" size of bigha and it varies considerably from place to place.

Katha or Biswa is a unit of area mostly used for land measurement in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. After metrication in the mid-20th century by these countries, the unit became officially obsolete. But this unit is still in use in much of Bangladesh, Northern India, Eastern India and Nepal. The measurement of katha varies significantly from place to place.

A Cheshire acre is a unit of area historically used in the County of Cheshire.

The measurement of land in Punjab, India is an important aspect of agriculture and land management in the region. Punjab has a unique system of measuring land, typically done in units of bigha and acre. The measurements can vary slightly depending on the specific region and local customs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rood (unit)</span>

A rood is a historic English and international inch-pound measure of area, as well as an archaic English measure of length.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Imperial and US customary measurement systems</span> English (pre 1824), Imperial (post 1824) and US Customary (post 1776) units of measure

The imperial and US customary measurement systems are both derived from an earlier English system of measurement which in turn can be traced back to Ancient Roman units of measurement, and Carolingian and Saxon units of measure.

The History of measurement systems in Pakistan begins in early Indus Valley civilization when pastoral societies used barter to exchange goods or services and needed units of measurement.

A number of different units of measurement were historically used in Cyprus to measure quantities like length, mass, area and capacity. Before the Metric system, the Imperial system was used. In between 1986-1988, metric system was adopted in Cyprus.

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