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Impact Of Human Activity + Attempts To Manage The Prairies Grassland Area

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Impact Of Human Activity + Attempts To Manage The Prairies Grassland Area When European settlers arrived in the Prairies they drove out the local Indians, who had survived by hunting the huge herds of bison. The Prairie soil proved difficult to remove and cultivate with ploughs available at that time, and so much of the grassland was used initially for cattle ranching. After the 1840's when the steel plough was developed, breaking the soil for cultivation became possible and cereal crops were successfully introduced. In the second half of the C19th three factors combined to help in the expansion and establishment of cereal growing as the principal farming activity of the region: 1. The world price of cereals increased steadily after 1860. 2. The demand for cereals from the industrialised Countries of W.Europe rose. ...read more.


Although the region has many favourable characteristics there are also hazards for cereal growers. Summer thunderstorms can provide hail that can flatten and destroy the crop. Damage can also be influenced by summer tornadoes. Drought occurs naturally and periodically and these can affect yields. The removal of the natural vegetation and the extension of cultivation into marginal dry areas exposed the soil and make it vulnerable to erosion by wind and heavy rainstorms. Over cultivation in the 1930's resulted in unexpected soil erosion. In the spring of 1934 a large part of Oklahoma was reduced to a 'Dust Bowl'. The area affected covered 16 million acres. During the winter months fine particles of soil were whisked away hundreds of miles and even out over the Atlantic. The heavier particles, not caught up in these "black blizzards", remained as drifts and hummocks, which often attained heights of 20ft. ...read more.


areas of cultivation. Farmers were paid to stop cultivating marginal land. However, there has only been a slight decrease in the cereal acreage. In fact over production has resulted in large surpluses, which have to be stored. Much more needs to be done if the cultivated area is to be reduced significantly in those regions that are most vulnerable to erosion. Soil conservation methods have now been successfully applied in the eastern part of the High Plains: * Crop rotation * The use of contour ploughing * Planting of tree belts to provide windbreaks * The retention of straw and crop litter to protect the surface from raindrop impact. From all this information I can come to the conclusion that after many years of the Prairies being ill treated and misused, they have finally been able to understand the way they need to be managed and looked after. They have learnt from their mistakes and have been able to use their mistakes to their advantage. ...read more.

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