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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Dust Bowl Era

Author
item BAUMHARDT, ROLAND

Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Water Science
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: October 15, 2002
Publication Date: August 1, 2003
Citation: BAUMHARDT, R.L. DUST BOWL ERA. STEWART, B.A., HOWELL, T.A., EDITORS. MARCEL-DEKKER, INC., NEW YORK, NY. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WATER SCIENCE. 2003. P. 187-191.

Interpretive Summary: The Dust Bowl era was the period of drought from 1931 to 1939 that had severe wind erosion. Dust storms came from overgrazed rangeland and from farmland exposed by excessive tillage practices that were poorly adapted to farming the semi-arid Great Plains. The eroding soil from once productive range and crop lands filled the air with billowing clouds of dust that subsequently buried farm equipment, buildings, and even barbed-wire fences thus, making the living conditions of many Great Plains inhabitants unbearable. On the Great Plains, wind is common and drought recurrent; therefore, farm implements and management methods were developed for producing crops under these conditions. Likewise, farmers now practice soil and water conservation using residue management practices. They also use crop rotations with fallow periods for storing rain in the soil for later use.

Technical Abstract: The Dust Bowl era was the period of drought from 1931 to 1939 that was coupled with severe wind-driven soil erosion from overgrazed rangeland and soil exposed by the use of farming practices not adapted to the semi-arid Great Plains. Government homesteading policies, for settlement of the Plains, encouraged overutilization of these lands. The eroding soil from once productive range and crop lands filled the air with billowing clouds of dust that subsequently buried farm equipment, buildings, and even barbed-wire fences; thus, making the living conditions of many Great Plains inhabitants unbearable. On the Great Plains, wind is common and drought recurrent; therefore, farm implements and management methods were developed for producing crops under these conditions. Likewise, farmers have evolved into innovative practitioners of soil and water conservation that rely on residue management practices. They also use crop rotations with fallow periods to store precipitation in the soil for later crop use.

Last Modified: 9/29/2014
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