Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Special Publication Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/4/2009
Publication Date: 1/18/2010
Citation: Locke, M.A., Tyler, D.D., Gaston, L.A. 2010. Soil and Water Conservation in the Mid-South United States: Lessons Learned and a Look to the Future. In Ted M. Zobeck and William F. Schillinger (Eds.), Soil and Water Conservation Advances in the United States, Soil Science Society of America Special Publication 60. Soil Science Society of America, Madison, WI, USA, pp. 201-236. Interpretive Summary: Book Chapter - Interpretative Summary not required.
Technical Abstract: This chapter addresses the history and knowledge of soil erosion and conservation in the Mid-South United States throughout the twentieth century. Efforts in the early twentieth century to control soil erosion lacked national coordination, even though many farmers and scientists were aware of the negative effects that farm practices had on soil productivity. Recognition that erosion was a national problem that needed national coordination and evaluation did not occur until the disastrous effects of the Dust Bowl era. As a result of several important pieces of legislation, a concerted effort was made to conduct research to counter soil erosion. Nationally, as well as in the Mid-South, federal and state experiment stations worked with the newly established USDA Soil Conservation Service in the 1930’s to find and promote conservation practices. This effort was continued throughout the remainder of the twentieth century. From the 1970’s through 2000, a proliferation of research was published by Mid-South scientists. Farming in the Mid-South underwent major transformations in the twentieth century, and conservation methods adapted accordingly. While soil loss was the primary focus for the first half of the century, attention has turned to loss of agrichemicals in runoff and their effects of water quality. Conservation tillage and renewed use of cover crops, together with edge-of-field controls for non-point source agricultural inputs, and enrollment in the CRP have improved soil and water conservation in the Mid-South. However, problems remain locally and throughout the region. Furthermore, issues such as hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico have rekindled the call for nationally coordinated efforts to promote soil conservation.