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readytogo1955

What Caused the Dust Bowl?

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The prairies of the Midwest were originally protected by tall prairie-grass, that held the topsoil in place during droughts. However, once the prairies were settled, farmers ploughed over the prairie grass. Years of over-cultivation meant there was no longer protection from the elements. Sure enough, in 1930, a drought killed off the crops.. High winds blew the remaining topsoil away.Ironically, the Ogallala Aquifer is not being depleted to feed American families or to support the kind of small farmers who hung on through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl years. Instead, the agricultural subsidies that began as part of the New Deal to help farm families stay on the land are now paid to corporate farms that grow crops we no longer need. As an example, water drawn from the Ogallala Aquifer is helping Texas farmers grow bumper crops of cotton, but there is no longer a U.S. market for cotton. So cotton growers in Texas receive $3 billion a year in federal subsidies, taxpayer money, to grow fiber that is shipped to China and made into cheap clothing that is sold in American stores. If the water runs out, we won't have the cotton or the inexpensive clothing, and the Great Plains will be the site of yet another environmental disaster.So lets get ready to pay more for food,or we better start our Liberty Gardens again.

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When the White man went west he rode through praries that we 4' deep in grass. He dreamed of replacing this with grain and so settled there, burned off the grass and planted his fields. In short order he discovered that the top soil was only a few inches deep and that the grasses had basically lived on a root mass that was on top of the dirt. Without the roots that died when plowed the soil was blowing away even before the dust bowl drought.

 

The other part of the problem was that when we eradicated the buffalo herds we collapsed a fragile Eco-system that had existed for thousands of years. The buffalo grazed the tops off the grass and fertilized it. They dug holes all over hel;l called buffalo wallows where the rain could soak in rather than evaporate. Without the grass and without the buffalo the Arieses became deserts and then when the droughts came that dust blew in across the more fertile soils burying it.

 

They are discovering the same problem in the Amazon Rainforest. When you cut the trees and try to use the land for farming and ranching you find that the soil is actually of extremely limited fertility and soon it is just as dead as the western prairies became. The rainforest is a living single system and without the trees it collapses never to be regrown.

 

After the dust bowl years one of the things they did all over the west was plant wind breaks. They often planted cane along the fence rows..that became a problem in and of itself in some areas. Once that stuff puts down roots you can't get rid of it!!!

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