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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Wind Erosion
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The Wind Erosion side of the unit focuses on:



  • Identifing and quantifing the physical processes involved in wind erosion
  • Developing simulation models and expert systems to predict wind erosion and designing control practices
  • Developing and evaluating tillage tools, management systems, barriers, mulches, soil stabilizers, and cropping practices for wind erosion control
  • Evaluating impact of soil erosion by wind on soil productivity, crop quality and yield, air and water quality, mechanical devices, transportation, and other economic activities

Wind erosion is a serious problem in many parts of the world and is worse in arid and semiarid regions. Areas most susceptible to wind erosion on agricultural land not only include parts of North America, but also much of North Africa and the Near East; parts of southern central, and eastern Asia; the Siberian Plains; Australia; northwest China; and southern South America.


Wind erosion is the dominant problem on about 30 million hectares (74 million acres) of land in the United States. About 2 million hectares (5 million acres) are moderately to severely damaged each year. Wind erosion physically removes from the field the most fertile portion of the soil. Some soil from damaged land enters suspension and becomes part of the atmospheric dust load. Dust obscures visibility and pollutes the air, causes automobile accidents, fouls machinery, and imperils animal, plant, and human health.


During the 1930s, a prolonged dry spell culminated in dust storms and soil destruction of disastrous proportions. The "black blizzards" of the resulting Dust Bowl inflicted great hardships on the people and the land. Following the "dirty thirties," the U.S. Department of Agriculture started an intensive research program on wind erosion in cooperation with KansasStateUniversity. Today, this laboratory, officially known as the Engineering & Wind Erosion Research Unit (EWERU), continues to serve as the focal point for wind erosion research, both nationally and internationally. The researchers use theoretical, laboratory, and field studies to focus on four broad areas: mechanics, control, prediction, and environmental impact.  

Last Modified: 9/2/2016
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