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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Soil Management and Sugarbeet Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #382569

Research Project: Management Practices for Long Term Productivity of Great Plains Agriculture

Location: Soil Management and Sugarbeet Research

Title: Historical technological advances in soil and water conservation from the 1930s to the present

item Delgado, Jorge

Submitted to: Soil and Water Conservation Society Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/3/2021
Publication Date: 7/3/2021
Citation: Delgado, J.A. 2021. Historical technological advances in soil and water conservation from the 1930s to the present. Soil and Water Conservation Society Proceedings. p. 47.

Interpretive Summary: n/a

Technical Abstract: In 1935, during the midst of the Dust Bowl era, the U.S. Congress enacted legislation leading to the establishment of a new agency, the USDA Soil Conservation Service. Renamed nearly 60 years later (in 1994) as the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), this agency, in cooperation with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), university partners, farmers, consultants, and many others, has contributed to improved sustainability. Delgado (2020) reported that “the reduction of erosion rates during the golden era of soil and water conservation (1930s to 1980s) is one of the great conservation success stories of the 20th century, yet it often goes untold.” Extrapolating from erosion data reported in NRCS (2010) and Argabright et al. (1995), Delgado (2020) estimated erosion rates of 2.9 mm y–1 (0.11 in yr–1), 0.77 mm y–1 (0.03 in yr–1), 0.67 mm y–1 (0.03 in yr–1), 0.51 mm y–1 (0.02 in yr–1), and 0.51 mm y–1 (0.02 in yr–1) in 1930, 1982, 1992, 2007, and 2020, respectively. Technological advances in modeling, remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), and other areas have contributed to significant advances in precision farming and precision conservation during the last three decades. Now climate change is creating new challenges for soil and water conservation. This seminar will cover some of the scientific advances and challenges in conservation since the 1930s as well as touch on emerging challenges and opportunities that may lie ahead for soil and water conservation in the decades to come.