(The Soil Conservation Service was created by an act of Congress on April 27, 1935.  After years of dust storms, the main goal of the SCS was a comprehensive national program for the control of soil erosion. Plenty of progress was made in the early years, but are we still as enthusiastic on saving topsoil?)

Some People Are Always Right

When the Sun and Wind Wrote the Most Tragic Chapter in the Story of American Agriculture

Was the Dust Bowl a Man Made Disaster? Take this documentary in context, including it's propaganda ties to Roosevelt's re-election campaign, and enjoy this priceless look at depression era America.



He means well, but when my farmer reminds me that someone left a light on in the basement…and if I am guilty, my reaction is always pleasant.  His reminder that paying electric bills is okay as long as the kilowatts accumulated are from needful use and not ones that only give the dust bunnies more light to see. He’s right, of course.

These reminders are going to be taken more seriously now that the tax man has proven the farm economists true. Farm income is definitely down. Although we had our best yields ever, the crop prices have made our tax bill lower. That’s always an awkward conundrum. One never knows whether to rejoice or be depressed.

While shutting off lights is a small way to help the family budget in these tightening belt times, farmers will be looking for ways to trim their expense columns also. Crop inputs are difficult to change; one has to plant good seed, fertilize properly and do everything to produce bushels.

So, maybe all that remains is to look at farming practices.

It is time once again to consider no-till. It saves money–real money, immediately. Trips across the field are minimal, so less fuel, less wear and tear and tractors, and as tillage tools are no longer needed, they can be sold. Which puts money directly in the pocket and more room in the crowded machine shed.

And it is proven to work. We have been doing no-till for over twenty years now. It shouldn’t take multiple government agencies or cash incentives to get farmers to do what is right.

The benefits can be assessed in many different ways. One thing to consider is the land, our first resource. We all know that. It’s why we cringe and anger mounts when we see gullies in fields, because we know it is preventable. Dust still blows across the roads during dry seasons.

Weren’t the pictures of the Dust Bowl era enough to get us to change our ways?

I can remember my Dad showing us ditches filled with topsoil after wind storms in the dry seventies. My farmer now is quick to show me places where erosion by wind or water is not only removing our topsoil, but also ruining soil structure.

God in His infinite wisdom created soil that is so much than just plain ole’ dirt. If we were to open our eyes and take the time to examine it, we would see a remarkable underground world full of life that would amaze us.

Obvious to us would be the burrowing rodents minding their own business on the surface, yet having their own effect on structure. But as we look deeper, we would see teeny spiders, centipedes and their cousins the millipedes, always fascinating hard-working ants and the ordinary earthworms, all going about their daily activities with the unexpected consequence of maintaining soil structure.