Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Published in Ecology, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Apr., 1946), pp. 115-127. Copyright 1946 Ecological Society of America. Used by permission.


Any thoughtful student who has seen the mellow, granular, fiber-filled soil of virgin midwestern prairie and the same soil that has been cropped with maize or wheat for only a decade has cause for deep concern. For the cropped soil has lost its mellowness, the granular structure of discrete crumbs has largely disappeared as has also the binding root fiber. The soil when dry is often like dust, dust that pours between the fingers and is dispersed by the wind before it reaches the ground. Throughout the Midwest soil drifting has greatly increased, and erosion by water has become accelerated with length of time of cultivation and the cropping of more arid lands. Such soils have lost much of their fertility. They are greatly reduced in water-absorbing and water- holding capacity, and because of their small percentage of aggregates or their single-grain condition they may readily drift.