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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Rangeland Resources & Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #332092

Research Project: Modeling Soil and Soil-plant Interaction Responses to Wind and Extreme Precipitation and Temperature Events under Different Management Strategies

Location: Rangeland Resources & Systems Research

Title: A History of wind erosion models in the United States Department of Agriculture, Part 1: Prior to the Wind Erosion Prediction System

item Tatarko, John
item SPORCIC, MICHAEL - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)
item Skidmore, Edward

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/11/2020
Publication Date: 9/3/2020
Citation: Tatarko, J., Sporcic, M., Skidmore, E.L. 2020. A History of wind erosion models in the United States Department of Agriculture, Part 1: Prior to the Wind Erosion Prediction System. In: Tatarko, J (eds). 2020 Wind Erosion Prediction System (WEPS): Technical Documentation. Book Chapter. Agricultural Handbook 727.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The Great Plains experienced an influx of settlers in the late 1850s to 1900. Periodic drought was hard on both settlers and the soil and severe wind erosion resulted. The period from 1931 to 1939, known as the Dirty Thirties or The Dust Bowl, produced many severe windstorms, and the resulting dusty sky over Washington, D.C. helped Hugh Hammond Bennett gain political support for the Soil Conservation Act of 1937 that start the USDA Soil Conservation Service (SCS). Austin W. Zingg and William S. Chepil began wind erosion studies at a USDA laboratory at Kansas State University in 1947. Neil P. Woodruff and Francis H. Siddoway published the first widely used model for wind erosion in 1965, called the Wind Erosion Equation (WEQ). The WEQ was solved using a series of charts and lookup tables. Subsequent improvements to WEQ included monthly magnitudes of the total wind, a computer version of WEQ programmed in Fortran, small-grain equivalents for range grasses, tillage systems, effects of residue management, crop row direction, cloddiness, monthly climate factors, and the weather. The SCS and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) produced several computer versions of WEQ, with the goal of standardizing and simplifying it for field personnel including a standalone version of WEQ was developed in the late 1990s using Microsoft Excel. Although WEQ was a great advancement to the science of prediction and control of wind erosion on cropland, it had many limitations that prevented its use on many lands throughout the United States and the world. In response to these limitations, the USDA developed a process-based model known as the Wind Erosion Prediction System (WEPS). The USDA Agricultural Research Service has taken the lead in developing science and technology for wind erosion prediction.