Abandonment of agricultural land is a process described from different regions of many industrialized countries. Given the current focus on land use, land use change and food security, it appears highly relevant to develop improved tools to identify and monitor the dynamics of agricultural land abandonment. In particular, the temporal aspect of abandonment needs to be assessed and discussed. In this study, we used the detailed information available through the Norwegian subsidy claim database and analyzed the history of use of unique land parcels through a fourteen-year period. We developed and tested five different statistics identifying these land parcels, their temporal dynamics and the extent of occurrence. What became apparent was that a large number of land parcels existing in the database as agricultural land were taken out of production, but then entered into production again at a later stage. We believe that this approach to describe the temporal dynamics of land abandonment, including how it can be measured and mapped, may contribute to the understanding of the dynamics in land abandonment, and thus also contribute to an improved understanding of the food production system.