Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Range Management, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Apr., 1950), pp. 100-113.


The writer has been interested in prairies, pastures, and root depth and distribution over a period of many years. He had the privilege of examining these relationships in the Palouse prairie of Washington long ago while numerous representative areas still remained in a virgin condition (5, 6). Extensive studies have been made in the hardlands of Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska many years before, during, and following the great drought of 1933-40 (7, 8, 1, 11). Vegetation and root habits have been studied in sand hills (7, 8, 4), in bluffs of wind-blown loess (12), and wet soils of lowland. The trench and hand pick method was employed throughout and roots in prairie and pasture were measured, compared, and sketched in the field. Their depth, spread, and chief characteristics were recorded. Only general consideration was given to soil type. At that time there was no method of quantitatively comparing one root system with another or the roots from one soil with those of the same species from a different soil. The need for such a method has been felt for a long time and lack of one that could be put into general use has probably greatly retarded root studies.