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management of the north american prairies

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Introduction

Positive and negative effects on the Prairies of North America and how to manage them. Grassland is found almost on every continent of the world except Antarctica. They are one of the earth's major biomes as they support a large amount of plant and animal life that reflect the climate and conditions of the grasslands. Temperate grassland is found between 40� - 50� north and south of the equator. The temperature ranges from -15 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees Celsius and has between 250mm - 1000mm rainfall annually. There are long grasses and short grasses e.g. saltbush and buffalo grass; these reflect the type of soil they grow in, either chestnut, brown or chernozem soils, these are determined whether precipitation exceeds evapotranspiration or where evapotranspiration exceeds precipitation. The land is used for agriculture and herding/ranching. The prairies cover most of North America, in states such as Kansas, Iowa and Alberta. The area has changed dramatically over time, as there only used to be tribal type settlements (Native Americans) that used the land properly and did not damage it for agriculture and grazing. ...read more.

Middle

The methods of ploughing and the gradual introduction of large machinery makes the soils vulnerable to erosion as intense mono cultivation has been introduced putting a huge demand on the soil as the large machines kill vegetation and compact the soils and when the land is ploughed in autumn the moisture in the soil is exposed and evapotranspiration occurs and the soil becomes dry and the wind simply blows it away, this causes the 'dust bowl' where over time the amount of eroded soil blown away increases to an extent that huge amounts of top soil form dust storms which cover large areas cause huge problems for people, they are very similar to sand storms and can damage and destroy crops, animals and property. The Europeans also burnt a lot of the land in mosaics but as these people had little knowledge about the land they burnt far too much at once and have left the land unable to recharge/re-grow. Eutrophication is where large amounts of fertilisers are put into the soil to boost growth of plants and fertility of the soil, this can change the soil dramatically as when the ...read more.

Conclusion

Contour ploughing with strip cropping also helps reduce the area used and also allows the area to be managed carefully and when harvest comes if only the ears of the crop are collected it leaves the stem for crop cover to protect the land from erosion. The government of both America and Canada have had huge input as schemes have been introduced to help maintain the land and prevent further loss, national parks have been set up in Kansas where the grasslands are carefully managed and maintained, the prairie farm rehabilitation administration (PFRA) has also been set up as a group that will monitor the grasslands and ensure their future. This group also educates farmers with new methods of farming to help farmers with cultivation but also ways in which they can protect the soil, to reduce the dust bowl. Finally farmer diversification can help the grasslands as if there is no farming occurring, the amount of soil erosion will be greatly reduced or just changing the methods of farming will change the state of the prairies. These methods an schemes will cost the government but they will have to invest as the state of the grasslands is always changing and could be lost forever changing the whole ecosystem. ...read more.

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