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Soil Erosion

Soil erosion is a natural process that can be increased by human activities.

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The Dust Bowl

The Dust Bowl

Credit: NOAA George E. Marsh Album
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dust-storm-Texas-1935.png
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

This was just one of many dust storms that rushed across the Great Plains during the Dust Blow. This photo shows dust storm in Stratford, Texas in 1936.

Why It Matters

  • In the 1930s, as the United States suffered with the Great Depression, severe drought struck the Great Plains.
  • The land of the plains could only be broken for planting by the steel plow.
  • Millions of tons of soil blew away in large dust storms.
  • 3 million people moved away from the area.
  • Better farming practices and lots of irrigation water protect the soil today.
  • Credit: University of Delaware Carvel REC
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carvel/7352201590/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    A modern irrigation system that keeps the land from drying out [Figure2]

Explore More

With the links below, learn more about the Dust Bowl. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What were the positive and negative effects of the steel plow on the Great Plains?
  2. Why did the wind blow the soil away from the agricultural lands when it had not been able to do so when the region was grassland?
  3. How did the government stabilize the soil in the 1930s?
  4. What is the role of irrigation water from the Ogallala Aquifer in Great Plains agriculture right now? What will happen to this in the future?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: NOAA George E. Marsh Album; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dust-storm-Texas-1935.png; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: University of Delaware Carvel REC; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carvel/7352201590/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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