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Historic, Archive Document 

Do not assume content reflects current scientific knowledge, 
policies, or practices. 

The Land 


By T.B.Chambers 



NO. 3 



Vol. 1 

Ho. 3 
D e c,l93U 


The Land 


Issued Monthly by the 

Harold L. Ickes H. H. Bennett 


Edi tors 

G. A . Barnes Ewlng Jones 

By direction of the Secretary of tne Interior the natter contained Herein 
is published as administrative information and is required in the proper 
transaction of official business. 

The Contents 

Cover Design by Miss Elizabeth Osgood, Drafting Section 

Is Terracing Enough T. B. Chambers 1 

Fifty Years Finished the Mayans P. H. Valser € 

Permanent Strip Cropping in California H. E. Reddick 9 

Before Villa's Firing Squad G. A. Barnes - - 13 

Disinterested Observer 16 

Many Special Problems in Texas Blacklands - - H. V. Geib 18 

By Way of Biography ~ 22 

Farm Management in the Erosion Control Program E. E. Reed - 23 

Wind Erosion Endangering Colorado Vegetation C.J.Whitfield- 27 

Drafting Section 20 

A Symposium on Pastures Lyman Carrier 32 

Orbiina, Illinois 

Covpaths rapidly become gulches in the deep soils 
of Illinois. 

Waterfall erosion 13 whittling wide and deep into the 
heart of Illinois fertile soils. Gullies practically 
haue ruined this field. 

is Terracing Enough? 

By Ta B*Chambers 


The Soil Erosion Service says no 
— and here Mr. Chambers points 
out why. Terracing, he explains, 
is a vital factor in erosion con* 
trol—but not the sole solution,. 

In view of a rapidly expanding interest in measures of erosion 
control, it is timely to present a statement on the subject of ter- 
racing and define the construction, functions and values of terraces 
as one of the implements of combat against severe land wastage. 

If terraces are properly laid out, and properly constructed and 
maintained on selected lands adapted to their use, they are very ef- 
fective in the control of gullying and reduction of sheet erosion, 
as well as useful in encouraging contour cultivation and strip crop- 
ping. They must be considered a very helpful, practical approach to 
the problem of soil erosion control. But on the other hand, they 
must not be regarded as the sole effective measure of prevention. 
They are, barring exceptional circumstances, only one factor in a 
properly coordinated control program. 

The purpose of a terrace, stated simply, is to help prevent e- 
rosion by: (a) intercepting runoff from rainfall in its course down 
a cultivated slope, and (b) conducting excess water away from the 
field at a velocity that produces a minimum of erosion. However, 
there are supplementary purposes which assume more or less importance 
under. varying conditions of climate and land use. For instance, in 
regions of dry farming it is customary to construct level terraces, 
or level terraces closed at the ends, to assist in conserving mois- 
ture. In most instances, conservation of the soil is the principal 
purpose, but on certain very gently sloping or level lands in the 
sub-humid region, conservation of rainfall may be the primary aim. 

Many fallacious views have arisen with regard to t he functions 
of a terrace and the results to te expected from its use. It has 
been stated that terracing, as a perfect method of controlling ero- 
sion, is self sufficient. Results from the ten Soil Erosion Fxper 1- 
■ent Stations located on as many different soil types in t he princi- 
pal farming regions of the Halted States show that soil loss from 
terraced areas is reduced in an Lftpottditl degree as compared with 
unterraced areas. This is an obvious fact, as is also the fact 
that efficient terracing is a practical .Measure for minimizing ero- 
sion. Some of the measurements referred to might easily be mislead- 
ing, however, owing to the method by which they have been made. The 
soil removed from the slope is measured at the outlet end of the ter- 
race. No accompanying figures are available to show how much addi- 
tional soil is removed from the area between terraces, intercepted by 
the lower terrace and dropped into the channel, where it is allowed 
to remain until the channel is dangerously choked, and lcter, by a 
process of maintenance, removed to the top of the ridge, where the 
same process is repeated. 

It is true, of course, that soil movement is retarded by the 
terrace system. Instead of a great quantity of topsoil being swept 
away directly as the result of a heavy downpour as frequently happens 
in unterraced fields, a much smaller amount is carried immediately 
out of the field. Generally a considerably larger quantity is inter- 
cepted, at least for a while, by the terrace embankment. The result 
:Len is not a perfect system of erosion control, but a foundation on 
which a better system may be erected, as will be pointed out below. 


Only the broad-base terrace is being constructed by the Soil 
Erosion Service. This type is adaptable to cultivation on slopes 
that are not too steep, since it does not have the steep side-slopes 
of the narrow-ridge terrace. 

Several types of broad-base terraces are in general use, all of 
which are a modification of the Vangurn Terrace (devised on the farm 
of Mr. Priestly Mangura, some forty years ago, near Wake Forest, N.C. ) 
The old type M angum Terre.ce, constructed by moving equal amounts of 
soil from the upper and lower sides of the ridge, has generally been 
abandoned due to the small water channel formed on the upper side. A 
modification of this type, composed of a broad, flat water channel 
above the terrace ridge, is now most generally used. From 75 to 100 
percent of the material generally is moved from the upper side, the 
amount increasing with the steepness of the slope. The broad, flat 
channel is of sufficient capacity to care for the runoff from ordin- 
ary storms, and the ridge is a safety factor for unusual rains. 


The narrow-r 1 dge type, sone limes locally referred to as one-row 
terraces, which formerly was so common in the South, is rapidly giv- 
ing way 10 the modified Kangum Terrace. The narrow-ridge type is 
< .. . ; ? ' :\ I e u darago ' y percolation rfhen carrying us full capacity 
of water. To overcome this danger, such terraces must be constructed 
»ith an excessive grade, such as induces scouring, otherwise the 

{dgt must be stabilized with permanent vegetation. It is generally 
impossible to cultivate across the steep, narrow ridges without de- 
stroying them, but the practice of cultivating over the broad-base 
tei race is quite common. 

Terraces must te designed to meet local conditions. Such fac- 
tors as slope, climate, soil and cultural practices must be consid- 
ered. In the more 
humid regions, the 
terrace channel must 
te constructed for 
maximum capacity, 
and on comparatively 
gentle, non-erosive 
gradients. In estab- 
lishing a balance be- 
tween channel capacity 
and quantity of runoff 
it is necessary to 
place the terraces at 
closer intervals. Con- 
sequently, as the land slope increases, the interval between terraces 
decreases. Soil characteristics, particularly erosivity and permea- 
bility, must influence the design of the terrace system. The ability 
of soil to absorb water should not generally influence the design to 
any great extent, since a condition sometimes arises where the sur- 
face soil is saturated at the beginning of a heavy rainfall, so that 
runoff is approximately equivalent to that from an impervious soil. 

Under conditions of low rainfall, it is often imperative to con- 
serve as much moisture as possible, and to this end the terrace 
should be constructed on the level and at greater horizontal inter- 

Terrace gradings fall under three general classifications, 
aaiiely: level, uniform and variable. The level terrace is most com- 
■nonly used in the drier regions, where its primary function is water 
conservation. A terras channel of uniform gradient produces maximum 
discharge in a comparatively short time after precipitation begins, 
and has other objectionable features. A terrace channel of variable 
grading begins with the flatter gradients (or with no slope at all) 

3ully caused by washing In Improperly 
protected terrace outlet. 

at the upper end and increases with units of length toward the outlet. 
This effects a more gradual and favorable discharge rate, and it is 
the type most generally used by the Soil Erosion Service. 

In the past, most farmers using terraces have done their own work. 
The amount of equipment was necessarily limited, generally to a plow, 
Martin ditcher or home-made drag, all horse-drawn. The expenditure of 
time and labor was excessive and quite often resulted in the work be- 
ing discontinued before adequate cross-section of ridges and water 
channel had been attained. Frequently, the gradients were imperfect, 
often too steep. * 

Machinery consisting of tractor-operated terracing blade graders, 
that makes terrace construction much more economical, has been devel- 
oped in recent years, and is in general use on cooperative projects. 
Realizing the necessity of economical construction, this heavy equip- 
ment is being extensively used by the Soil Erosion Service. Heavy 
elevating graders have proven economical under conditions of long 
uniform flat slopes. 

Since, the projects of the Soil Erosion Service are demonstrational, 
a number of the horse-drawn machines are furnished each project and 
their use taught to individual cooperators. 

Improper terracing involves dangers which should be carefully 
considered. Too often we see fields ruined by gullies which have been 
caused directly by improperly constructed terraces or terrace outlets 
with inadequate protection. In numerous instances, the failure can be 
traced directly to faulty construction. In other instances, failure 
has come about because the designer did not properly evaluate all the 

overtopping and consequent cutting of the ridge, with resultant scour- 
ing and gullying; excessive gradients that produce erosion in the 
Continued on Page 2i 


A terraced field 

conditions influencing 
the successful opera- 
tion of the complete 
system, such as exces- 
sively steep slopes, 
shallow surface soil 
over impervious clay, 
and highly erosive 
soil. The chief faults 
of improper construction 
are: (a) inadequate 
size of channel and 
ridge, such as induce 

Fifty Years 
Finished ihe Mayans 

A flourishing civiiizcution perished 
in half a century — choked with 
ike products of its own erosion. 
Could such a disaster overtake the 
United States ? 

By P. FLWalser 


What mysterious cause orought about the fall of the Mayan empire 
which flourished for about twelve centuries in Central America in what 
are now the tropical jungles of Guatamala? 

The Mayans, numbering about 14 million persons, are not known to 
have been wiped out by the superior strength of an invading enemy. 
They were probably unconquerable in their day. Their temples and pub- 
lic buildings had been in ruins for nine centuries before the conquer- 
ing Spaniards under Cortex wiped out most of the few records concern- 
ing them which then remained. There is no evidence that their civili- 
zation was destroyed by an earthquake, tidal wave, storm, or by fire. 
But we do know that in the fifty years between 580 and 630 A.D. this 
marvelous civilization suddenly disappeared, leaving no reminder but a 
few ruins. The very site of their great empire was deserted by their 
survivors and descendants. 

Scientists have since dug into their ruins, examined their des- 
cendants, studied their language, and patiently pieced together their 
history in the effort to solve the baffling mystery of their disappear- 
ance. All solutions advanced, however, were no more than mere guess- 
work until an American geologist, Dr. C. Wythe Cooke, hit upon the 
reason for the fall of their empire and gathered the necessary data to 
support his conclusions. 

Dr« Cooke found the secret in the swamps or bogs which consti- 
tute about forty per cent of their territory at present. He made a 
close stud/ of the soil formation in these bogs and on the lofty hills 
wnich surround them. From this examination he came to the conclusion 


that what are now bogs and flat, muddy plains were immense, clear lakes 
in the days of Mayan civilization. The eroded hills now covered with 
mahogany and chicle trees, were fertile farms of rich black soil. On 
these farms they produced their bountiful crops, and carrying them down 
the hills on their backs — they did not use beasts of burden and had 
never discovered the principle of the wheel — they put their products 
on boats and exchanged goods with each other across their lakes. With 
rich soil to draw on, with lakes as a means of transportation, and with 
their ingenious minds directing, they built up a civilization unaided, 
for they did not have the history of all previous civilizations to 
draw on. 

Life flowed smoothly for them until their farmers, spurred on by 
the demand for more agricultural goods caused by an increasing popula- 
tion, cleared more and more of the uplands for cultivation and thereby 
exposed increasing amounts of the black soil to the torrential rains 
which fall in that climate six months out of the year. Erosion set 
in, and as the Mayans knew no way to stop it, the inevitable happened. 
The rich soil was carried down hill in torrents, baring the farms to 
the subsoil. After a time it was no longer possible to feed the mil- 
lions of people in the valleys below or even to support the farm fam- 
ilies. The soil which left the hills silted up the lakes below, in- 
terfered with and in time stopped the interchange of goods on these 

Says Dr. E. E. Free, in his "Week's Science" (New York): 
"The Maya civilization choked itself to death, Dr. Cooke be- 
lieves, with mud washed from its owd hillside corn patches. The form- 
er Maya country is marked today, Dr. Cooke reports, by small, flat 
plains of sticky clay soil, almost impassable in wet weather. Each of 
these plains, he believes, once was a small lake, these lakes being 
connected by streams or by short portages forming a system of water 
highways as the lakes of North America once did for the canoes of the 
Indians. The Maya cities, he believes, were built near these lake 
highways, and maintained by this easy form of transportation. On 
nearby hillsides, the theory continues, the Maya farmers grew the 
corn, which was their chief food. In so doing they cut or burned the 
natural hillside vegetation. The result was that every violent rain- 
storm washed a part of the hillside soil down into the lakes. Slowly 
the lakes filled up and the hillsides grew bare. The filling of the 
lakes blocked the waterways, while erosion of the hillside soils 
ruined the farms and lowered the nation's supply of food." 

Soil gone and commerce gone, the people were reduced to a state 
of poverty. But, as Dr. Cooke has pointed out, something else is 


necessary to explain the almost complete wiping out of the population, 
which is known to have occurred within the short space of fifty years. 
That something was disease — malaria and yellow fever — which arose 
and spread as soon as the lakes and lowlands were converted into mos- 
quito breeding bogs Not knowing how to control either disease, 
there was nothing for the Mayans to do but flee the country. A few 
sands of their survivors may yet be found in Yucatan, Guatemala, 
Honduras, and other parts of Central America. 

Could such a thing as this happen to the United States? In- 
stinctively, we say no. The idea is too repulsive for us to want to 
consider it. But sober reflection will show that just that is hap- 
pening in the United States now. Hills wholly or partly stripped of 
their fertile top soil have become too commonplace to provoke comment. 
The steady sanding over of rich meadows with soil from above is a 
sight almost as common. The silting up of lakes which cities build 

provide themselves with water goes on so rapidly that the lakes 
are filled almost before the bonds issued for their 'construction have 
seen retired. 

The United States has already lost through soil erosion not 
less than 35 million acres of good farm land, according to Director 
H. H. Bennett, who further estimates that 100,000 acres of land are 
being abandoned each year as no longer worth cultivating. Ahead of 
us looms the possible complete loss of 125 million acres of land and 
the partial destruction of a much greater amount. 

We must not permit the same calamity to overtake us which over- 
took the Mayans. We shall have only ourselves to blame if we do. We 
Know how to control soil erosion; the Mayans did not. We know more 
of the science of engineering than they. We presume they did not 
even know of terraces, since they left none. We. know more of the 
science of agriculture. It is not probable that they ever conceived 
the idea of a cover crop or a strip crop, or of land slopes too steep 
for safe cultivation. Surely, they had no soil erosion experiment 
stations, nor a far-seeing Government to stage large-scale erosion 
control demonstrations from which they could learn methods of con- 
trolling soil losses. 

In fifty years soil erosion caused the Mayan civilization to 
decline from its greatest height to the point of actual extinction. 
It has taken the American people just about that long to reduce some 
of the richest farm lands in the world to the point of being worth- 
less. Destruction of some of our farms is complete. On many more 
erosion has progress to the point where the soil will no longer yield 
a profit on its cultivation. Isn't it time to apply what we know? 



Permanent Strip Croppin 
in California 

By Harry Fa Reddick 


California rich citrus orchards being protected 
by bench, terraces developed from permanent 
strips — adapting an idea from the ancients 

In spite of the indisputable marvels of the ancients in con- 
structing their elaborate systems of terracing, California has de- 
veloped a method of successfully farming steep slopes that has all 
their good points and lacks many of their bad ones. 

The successful and continuous farming of steep hillsides has 
always been a major problem to the agriculturist. Steep slopes, 
ranging from twenty to fifty per cent in grade, have been utilized 
for crop production since long before the white race first practiced 
systematic cultivation of the land, but the methods of adapting the 
hillsides to production invariably called for an expenditure of la- 
bor that would be prohibitive to the modern American farmer. 

The Germans, in the fertile valley of the Rhine, terraced the 
banks up slopes so steep that the retaining walls of the plots often 
had more area than was made available for the growing of their 
grapes. The Chinese have long grown rice upon the stair step hill- 
sides that sweep upward from the rivers. The ancient Incas of Peru 
(likely one of the most highly advanced agricultural people this 
planet has ever known) carried on their farming with a fervor that 
bordered on fanaticism, and built one of the most elaborate and most 
lasting systems of terraces of which history has any record. So suc- 
cesful and so foresighted were these inspired builders of land that 
even today, after four thousand years of continuous cropping, the 
same plots are supporting their descendants. 

Such grand methods of land usage were not without their cost. 


Valla of perfectly joined masonry, six to twelve feet in thickness, 
and eight to twenty feet in height, were constructed by man power a- 
lone, in order to retain an area seldom exceeding a fraction of an 
acre. Single stones 36 by 24 feet in area and six feet thick are to 
be found in the walls constructed by that ancient race who had only 
aan power, & keen appreciation of the power of leverage, and bound- 
less energy to assist them. It is said that good rich earth was 
packed seven hundred miles on the backs of spindly legged llamas to 
carpet those precious mountain side plots which were often so small 
that only two rows of potatoes could be planted in their entire width. 

Obviously no such methods can be used by the American farmer 
today, but the need of terracing on the steeper slopes is just as 
acute, and just- as essential, if they are to be successfully cropped 
throughout a number of years. In California the ranchers (all farm- 
ers are known as ranchers in the West) long ago discovered that the 
steep slopes were often the best adapted to growing of citrus fruits, 
avocados, and many deciduous fruits. The hillsides were preferable, 
because of the deeper and richer topsoil, because they were warmer in 
the winter and less subject to killing frosts, and were usually 
freer from diseases and pests. 

The question of planting orchards on steep slopes was aggrav- 
ated by two primary necessities: the soil must not be carried away by 
erosion, and there must be sufficient grade for irrigation. It was 
these conditions that proved the need of an engineer specializing in 


Bench terrace that has developed due to permanent 

strip cropping and cultural practices In an irri- 
gated orange orchard. Note the heav/ growth of 
vegetation on the steep bank. 


agricultural problems, and such has been the author's work for the 
sixteen years prior to entering the Soil Erosion Service. 

The first step taken by the agricultural engineer in designing a 
hillside orchard lay-out is the making of a topographic map having a 
scale of 1" equal to 100 1 , with contour intervals of from 0.5' to 2', 

depending on the ter- 
rain. Such contour 
maps are usually ob- 
tained in the fall of 
the year after the 
annual crops have 
been harvested. Fol- 
lowing the completion 
of the map a paper 
layout is made of the 
proposed orchard, 
showing the tree rows 
laid out on suitable 
grades to give the 
water a uniform dis- 
tribution. Due to the fact that conditions vary from field to field, 
the grades of the irrigation contours range from 1% to 4%. On this 
map there is also indicated the irrigation lines, drainage lines, 
roads for future use in hauling fruit, and all other necessary features 
that will aid in efficiently fanning the land. 

The following spring, from February to May, the paper lay-out is 
staked out on the site of the orchard, and when the job is complete 
there is a stake for each and every tree, pipe line, irrigation head, 
gate valve, overflow, catch basin, and outlet. The construction work 
is then started and the trees planted. 

Before the completion of laying out an orchard the writer always 
advised the rancher to cultivate only on the contour, and never do any 
cross cultivation under any consideration. He was further advised to 
leave the strip of grass cover crop and weeds in the tree row intact. 
If the weeds became too tall he was advised to cut them with a scythe, 
but let the litter remain where it fell. This practice has been adopted 
by a large number of ranches throughout California, and the results have 
proven very satisfactory. 

In a few years the shape of the hill changes gradually from that 
of a uniform slope to one composed of a series of "falling terraces." 
It has been found that there is a definite movement of the soil down hill 
toward the tree row regardless of whether the old-fashioned side hill 


Irrigated contour citrus orchard in 
California where bench terraces de- 
veloped from permanent strip cropping. 


plow is used or the cultivating is done with tractors and heavy doub- 
le disc harrows. Each succeeding cultivation tends to steepen the 
slope or "riser" between the terraces, and after ten years of such 
practice there has been formed the definite bench terrace. 

The advantages of bench terraces are several. It provides the 
meter with a terrace which has a flat cross slope plus the desired 
irrigation grade. There he can place his irrigation furrows, from 
four to six to a space, and he can use wagons for hauling his fruit 
out of the orchard instead of sleds. An additional advantage of such 
cultural practice is that he can plant his winter cover crop on the 
terrace and by irrigation have it up before the winter rains set in, 
thereby preventing any erosion that the storms would ordinarily cause 
These cover crops furnish excellent green manure when disced under 
the following spring. 

The leaving of the grass in tne tree rows is nothing more or 
less than establishing a permanent strip crop to prevent runoff and 
soil erosion. Records and measurements of eroded material have been 
kept on a five-acre contour lemon orchard for several years, and in 
spite of the fact that during that time two storms of near cloudburst 
proportions have occurred, the average soil loss has been less than 
fifty pounds per acre per annum. The runoff, although not measured, 
was equally small. 

It is interest- 
ing to note that while 
the original cross 
slope of the tract re- 
ferred to above was 
from 25$ to 40% there 
has never been a rill, 
rivulet, or gully come 
down its slopete. This 
is in no sense an iso- 
lated case as can be- 
testified to by hund- 
reds of ranchers in 
California who have 
plotted and tilled their orchards by the method herein described. 

Thus it is that the modern California rancher obtains all of the 
advantages of the terraces built by the ancients plus many that they 
did not have, and he does it at a cost within reason, and without the 
use of tens of thousands of toiling slaves that fenced their soil with 
huge blocks of stone. 


Erosion control as practiced by the 
Ancient Peruvians. Detail or bench 
terraces In tne Colca Valley. 

Before Villa's Firing Squad 

By Ca A* Barnes 


A little known chapter from the life 
of J. G. Lindley, u/ho escaped, of course, 
to become Supervising Engineer for 
the E.C.W. Camps of the Service 

Behind me, the door marked "Supervising Engineer ECW Camps" 
swung shut with a faint click, and Lindley looked up from a pile of 
papers in front of him. He smiled, and I felt a little better about 
interrupting a busy nan at the end of a busy day, I told him what 
was on my mind. 

"Well", he said, "if yuh really want that story I guess I'm 
hooked. But you sure must be hard up for copy this month." 

He started off with biographicil detail, and I took it all down 
very dutifully, though it wasn*t what I'd come for. He was born, 
Lindley said, in Moberly, Missouri, in 1888. That nade him only 46, 
and I was surprised because he looks about no to me. I wasn't sur- 
prised, a moment later, though, when he sketched an outline of his 46 
years. . .University of Oregon, University of Arizona. . .surveyor, chem- 
ist ,, metallurgist engineer, superintendent of mining camps in the 
Southwest and Mexico... the Chemical Warfare Service in the War years., 
a construction job with peons and Indians in tropical Sinaloa. I 
started to ask how he managed it all in 46 years, but he was getting 
to the story I wanted so I didn't interrupt. 

He tipped his swivel chair back as far as it would go, locked his 
hands behind his head, and grinned reminiscently. I was set to hear 
a chronological account 01. tne incident that interested me, but Lind- 
ley began to ruminate. 

"Under the circumstances", he said, meditatively, "the traditional 
devil-may-care attitude was something of a strain. Leaning against 
that adobe wall, I pretended extravagant indifference toward death, 
because extravagant indifference seemed to be the formula for such 
situations. Also, there was a certain satisfaction in irritating the 
pompous gentleman who had things undeniably in hand. We all tried 
to maintain the customary Yankee coolness, but the sight of those 
eight highly efficient cut-throats, hand picked for our execution, was 


jttst a trifle disconcerting. Rven & Villista firing squad is apt to 
quite accurate at ten paces, you know." 

I didn't know, but I could imagine. lindley stopped and swung 
around to loot at me. 

"I'm putting the cart before the horse, though. Suppose I start 
at the beginning and let you in on the events leading up to the trag- 
edy, or rather, that almost led up to the tragedy." 

I nodded agreement. 

"Mexico in 191a and 1915 was a pretty hectic place", he went on, 
"what with an elusive Villa and an exasperated Carranza letting blood 
all over the country-side. I was engineer and assayer for the Na- 
tional Mines Company in Durango, and I was very young. I had little 
on my mind but hair, and not much more of that than I have now. 

"Villa had been defeated at Agua Prieta, and the United States 
Government had permitted Carrancista troops to go in bond across A- 
merican territory to help repulse him. It made Villa regard all A- 
mericans as enemies. After he was beaten, he broke his army up into 
raiding bands of 60 to 70 men, placed the* in the command of gener- 
als, colonels, and assorted other officers, a.nd sent them south with 
blanket orders to tear up railroads and kill off "griagoes". 

"William Jennings Bryan was Secretary of State in those days, 
and realizing that Villa meant business, he ordered all American mine 
employees out of Mexico. Anyone with half a care for his skin would 
have obeyed, aad most of our fellow-workers did. But I was very 
young; I guess you might say I was just a trifle foolhardy. Anyway, 
I agreed with four other youngsters to stick around and take mj 

"We spent the next several days and nights ducking into hiding 
and out again. Every rumor about Villistas on the raid — and there 
were rumors a-plenty, believe me — sent us scurrying for cover in the 
mine. We were ninety miles by stage coach from the nearest railroad, 
and we were five peace-loving Yankees against an army of blood-thirsty 

"For a while, we were lucky. Then, one day, a roving band took 
us by surprise, in broad daylight. We weren't tven hiding. They de- 
scended upon the camp suddenly and corraled U3 very neatly, indeed. 

"The five of us were hauled at once before a pompous, pseudo- 
military gentleman who turned out to be General Pedro Bracomontes, one 
of Villa's trusted henchmen. We were searched and relieved of the few 
valuables we had, even down to hats and boots. In stockinged feet, we 
ttood there while the General delivered himself of varied thoughts a- 
bont America and Americans. He was, I think, the greatest master of 
invective I have ever met. He approached the matter of insulting ua 


with a care and delicacy hardly short of the artistic. His vocabu- 
lary was colossal and, for some fifteen minutes, he let us have it 
with both barrels. Calmly, then, he sentenced us to be shot." 

Lindley grinned — that quizzical grin — and continued. 

"Eight genial blackguards formed a squad about us. At a command 
they marched us away, down through the terrified town and across a 
long mesa to an old almacen, or warehouse. There, against the old 
adobe wall, we lined up, the five of us, side by side. It was hard 
to appear nonchalant and casual; one wanted to yell in protest. But 
the tradition was strong. We tried to look indifferent, even if we 
didn't feel that way. With the business end of eight Army rifles 
staring coldly at you across ten feet of ground, it's only natural to 
be concerned. 

"Then, suddenly, the pompous colonel in command of the squad ap- 
proached us with his proposition. He realized the international con- 
sequences likely to follow our execution, he said importantly, and he 
was anxious to avoid them. Naturally, it was his duty to carry out 
the order of General Bracomontes. But a tangible consideration, he 
suggested, might persuade him that our lives should be spared in the 
interest of international harmony. 

"Greedily, we began to negotiate. One thousand silver pesos? we 
suggested. The colonel scoffed. Fifteen hundred? we countered. 
Again he scoffed. Two thousand — virtually all we had between us in 
the world? Well, he would consider. He wrangled for another two 
hours and finally agreed. For two thousand pesos he would turn us 
free. We scraped it up irom our savings back at the mine, and handed 
it to him. The firing squad lowered its rifles, formed, and marched 
away, our friendly colonel leading a pack mule laden with the monetary 
fruits of our many months 1 labor in the mines of Durango. 

"Just as I can't describe the sensation that came over me when I 
found death staring me in the face, so am I unable to describe my feel 
ings when the colonel and his men departed. I say frankly that I was 
scared stiff. What I needed, I decided was a drink. My companions 
agreed lustily. We dashed for the nearest canttna, and you can be cer 
tain I never enjoyed a stiff slug of mescal as much as I did that day. 

Lindley halted with an inflection that meant he had finished, but 
I was not yet satisfied. What became of Bracomontes, I asked. He was 
killed shortly afterward in a battle near Durango City, Lindley re- 
plied; and I could detect no sympathy in his voice. 

Which, I reflected, was hardly odd. 




The Pr*ss and the Public 
sp^ak tb^ir minds about the S.E.S. 

EXCERPT from address of Louis J. Taber, Master, National 
Grange, opening annual convention, Hartford, Conn,: 

"There is no better way to use funds if they are wisely and 
economically expended, than in demonstrating to the American 
farmer practices and methods that will enable him to operate 
his farm and prevent, as largely as possible, the loss from 
erosion by runoff water. This program of the government is 
but a drop in the bucket. Six million farm homes must become 
centers from which radiate sound information on the preser- 
vation of our soil and its f ert ility . . .This fertility does 
not belong to those alone who hold the deed to the farm. It 
is not the wealth of this generation; it is the property 
that belongs in part to those who will live in the centuries 
to come. " (Nov. 14 ) . 

ARTICLE in Baltimore, Md. SUN: 

"Probably the most important conservation program that has 
been sponsored by the Roosevelt Administration is now being 
carried forward in most of the states by the Soil Erosion 
Service of the Department of the Interior." (Nov. 25). 

ARTICLE in BARROM'S, The National Financial Weekly: 

"Gloomy, indeed, would be the outlook for the nation if ero- 
sion could not be controlled, but it can be if the people 
are disposed to do it. ..The condition will go progressively 
worse until the nation awakens to the fact that its exist- 
ence depends upon effective means taken to control the ero- 
sion and preserve that 7 inches of soil that stand between 
it and ruin. " (Nov. 12) . 


"The question of erosion is beyond the discussion stage... It 
affects the means of human existence. To permit it to go on 
unchecked is to trifle with a national menace." 



"One of the most hopeful projects of the PWA is the Soil Ero- 
sion Service. It has only a $10,000,000 fund to combat a 
process that is costing American farms something in the 
neighborhood of $400,000,000 a year, but it is a determined 
step in the right direction and it sets a precedent that may 
in the future become a normal, nationwide service." ( 

LETTER from Walter R. Humphrey, Editor, Temple, Texas 

"Through the work which has been done in this section of the 
state under the able direction of H. V. Geib, the farmers of 
Central Texas have been given a new vision and a new hope, 
which is going to reflect untold improvement on farm values 
and farm revenues. The farmer of Temple, Texas, swears by 
the Soil Erosion. Never before has the Government come to 
him with such valuable assistance. I think the value of 
the work already done will be a lasting monument to the New 
Deal, to the President, to you, and to your associates." 

EXCERPT from address of Edward A. O'Meal, President of 
the American Farm Bureau Federation: 

"We must formulate and apply a national program of land use 
to correct the unsound policies of the past and protect our 
greatest natural resource — land." (Dec. 10). 

EDITORIAL in the Minneapolis, Minn. STAR: 

"A large erosion control project has been instituted near 
Winona... and thus moves in the Governmental program to im- 
prove agricultural conditions through conscious application 
of scientific means. 

"Erosion control is a big fac T or in Agriculture. . .America 
■ has reached the point where her agricultural resources must 

be protected and rehabilitated; waste must be replaced with 

conservation." (Oct. 20). 

ARTICLE in the Silver City, M. M\ Enterprise: 

"...the work being done by the Soil Erosion Service in Ariz- 
ona and New Mexico will undoubtedly result in the restora- 
tion of many thousands of acres to their former fertility 
and grazing value. 

"One of the principal benefits to result from the control of 
erosion will be the decreasing of the amount of silt carried 
down by the Gila River to lodge behind the Coolidge dam." 



Manv Special Problems 
in Texas Blacklands 
By H.V. Ceib 



Central Texas Erosion Control project is located in the Elm 
Sreet watershed with headquarters at Temple. The size of this area 
is approximately 200,000 acres and lies partly in four counties. 

The Texas Blacklands comprise an area of approximately 11 mil- 
lion acres, and occupy a relatively narrow strip extending in a gen- 
eral north and south direction almost completely across the state. 
Tne topography varies from gently undulating to broadly rolling and 
billy. The average slopes range from 3 to 6 percent, but there are 
considerable areas where the range is from 10 to 15 or 18 percent. 
The Eka Creek watershed is quite typical of the entire Blacklands 

The soils of this watershed are all clays, derived from lime- 
stone, and are highly calcareous. Many of the samples analyzed show 
a calcium carbonate content of as high as 65 percent, and some of 
then ^ave well over 50 percent in the colloidal fraction. 

The rainfall of the area averages around 36 inches per year, but 
it is usually very unevenly distributed. 

The ElmCreek project was set up in December, 1933, but very 
little actual field work was accomplished until the latter part of 
the winter, due chiefly to bad weather conditions. The character of 
the soil makes it impossible to do any kind of field work for a con- 
siderable period after heavy rains. 

Greater part of the area was originally a treeless prairie and 
at the present time approximately 90 percent of the land is in culti- 
vation. The average size of the farms is approximately 110 acres, 
rhe majority of the farms in this region have been cropped for from 

to 75 years and in this comparatively short period of time erosion 
has made tremendous inroads on the fertility of the land. 


While an effort is being made to put into effect all practicable 
methods of erosion control, it has been necessary to take into consid- 
eration quite a number of important factors and conditions which are 
not common in other parts of the state. These conditions tend to make 


the Texas Blacklands unique in the methods of erosion control which 
are effective and practical to put into operation. 

The effect of vegetation on erosion control has been amply dem- 
onstrated, and this fact has not been overlooked in our program. In 
our gully-control work, vegetation is used wherever possible. Ber- 
muda grass has been found to be the most satisfactory plant in this 
respect. A great many farmers object to its use in their cultivated 
fields, as it is so very agressive and so difficult to control that 
it is likely to become a menace on cultivated land. There is usually 
no objection to its use, however, in gullies in pastured areas, or 
in the creation of new pastures on badly eroded hillside areas. 

There are a few other grasses which give promise of being ef- 
fective in erosion control, but a sufficient quantity of these can- 
not be found in this locality to utilize to any great extent. A 15 
acre nursery has been established where we are propagating Dallis 
grass (paspalum dilatatum), and a few other grasses which we think 
may be successful. This nursery is irrigated. 

Cotton is by far the most important crop in the region. It is 
better able to withstand the long summer drouth than any other cash 
crop and it can be readily sold at any time during the year. The 
principal other crops have been corn and oats, with some sorghum, 
cane, grain sorghum, sudan grass, and a very little wheat. From the 
standpoint of erosion control this is about the poorest possible 
cropping system. It means that from 75 to 90 percent of the crop 
land has been in row crops year after year, which has resulted in a 
depletion of the supply of organic matter and a tremendous loss of the 
surface soil. The general practice has been to run crop rows down the 
slope, and this of course has been responsible for great soil losses, 
as well as loss of much needed rainwater. In this region a sufficient 
supply of moisture is the most important factor in crop production. 
We have many instances where simply contouring the rows has more than 
doubled the yield of cotton and corn. This has been due not only to 
the saving of rainfall, but also to the saving of nitrates which are 
carried off so readily with the runoff rainwater. 

Whenever practical, strip-cropping is being recommended. There 
are, however, quite a number of factors which tend to discourage this 
practice. On account of a fungus disease commonly known as cotton root 
rot, which is prevalent in most of the black soils, and which attacks 
practically all leguminous crops, it is usually not practical to re- 
commend the planting of any legumes except those which make their 
growth in the winter months. At this period of the year the root-rot 
disease is not active. Small grains are therefore practically the 
only crops which can safely used as the erosion-resisting crop. 


During the long summer drouth large cracks commonly occur iu our 
heavy clay soil. When rains come they follow these cracks through 
strips of thick growing crops and even through well-established pas- 
tures and, where this condition occurs, gullies form rapidly regard- 
less of the type of vegetation on the land. Long seasons of drouth 
render ineffective, from the standpoint of erosion control, practic- 
ally all types of vegetative growths. During such seasons pastures 
become grazed down so that the ground is almost bare, and when heavy 
rains occur there is not enough vegetation to offer much resistance to 
the flow of water. We believe that strip-cropping will be most ef- 
fective in this region when combined with an adequate system of ter- 
racing. Terracing alone does not give sufficient protection on the 
steeper slopes, but when combined with strip-cropping, is the most ef- 
fective of all methods applicable to this region. 

*e like to lay off the strips, both when strip-cropping is car- 
ried on alone and in combination with terraces, in such a way that the 
irregularities of the field are taken care of by the strips so that 
there are no short rows in the cultivated crop. This removes one of 
ihe greatest objections most farmers have to terracing or contouring. 

We are not recommending contour farming without the reinforcement 
of terraces or strip-crops, except on land having a slope of less than 
one percent, as in this region theie is grave danger of serious gully- 
if such a practice is followed. 


On this project all of the terracing work is dene by the farmers 
themselves, with the Service furnishing light terrace graders and 
fresnoes. We fell that in this way the farmers will have a thorough 
iooreciation of the terraces, and will feel a greater responsibility 
in Maintaining them. Furthermore, it not only teaches the farmers how 
to do the work, but it also demonstrates to those in the surrounding 
areas that they can do this terracing work at almost no expense to 
themselves — an important factor in tnis region. This also means 
that the greater part of the S.E.S. funds will be paid out for labor, 
rather than for heavy equipment. At the present time the project has 
about 560 men on its payroll, besides approximately 500 World War 
veterans in the two ECW camps. 

Old pastures are being terraced where the land is exceedingly 
steep, and contour-furrowed where the slopes are not excessive. This 
contour furrowing usually consists of plowing back-furrows on the con- 
tours at intervals of from 10 to 20 feet, depending upon conditions. 

Terrace outlet control is largely taken care of by the two ECW 
camps under our supervision. These camps are building mostly permanent 
structures, chiefly of concrete, since suitable rock is scarce here. 


These camps have to date completed in the neighborhood of 1600 
permanent dams. The cost of these is not as high as is generally pre- 
sumed. Considering that the farm land is worth at this time from $75 
to $150 per acre, the cost of this much needed protection is not at all 
out of proportion to the benefit derived therefrom. 

In a great many cases we have been able to empty our terraces 
upon pastures which are already established, or on areas where we are 
now planting pastures. A great deal of care has to be exercised in 
this practice because where the water is concentrated it takes a 
heavy stand of grass to keep the soil from washing badly. Where sev- 
eral terraces dump into the same outlet ditch it is usually necessary 
to build permanent structures since it is almost impossible to get 
vegetation to bold satisfactorily under conditions common to this area. 

Up to December 8, 610 cooperative agreements have been signed, 
which cover a total area of about 67,000 acres. Work has been started 
on approximately 400 farms. To date more than 1700 miles of terrace 
lines have been run, and about 700 miles of terraces completed. 

When work on this project was inaugurated, not over 1 percent 
of the area had any means of erosion control. Most of the farmers 
were backward ifcout subscribing to our program. It was therefore ne- 
cessary to put forward a great deal of educational work, the response 
to which has been exceedingly gratifying. In one section of the water- 
shed more than 95 percent of the farmers have signed agreements. A 
great many who at first had no interest at all in tjhe work, and who 
vowed that they would never cooperate in such a program, are now vol- 
untarily coming to the office and asking that the service be extended 
to include their land. 

This general attitude seems to be sweeping the entire state. 
More and more interest in erosion control is continually being evi- 
denced from all quarters. Inquiries are received almost every day from 
various parts of the state asking in what way their region might obtain 
assistance in working out their erosion control problems. One water- 
shed has submitted a petition carrying more than a thousand signatures, 
pledging approximately 95 percent of the land in the watershed. The 
unanimous expression is for continuance of the work. 


A series of soil terms, with their meanings, is being carried 
in each issue of the Mavajo Project Hews. It has been compiled by 
A. T. Strahorn, Chief Soil Expert of that project. 




•J alter C. Lowdenollk 
Vice - Director 

a real old- tine scientist. . .a young man... world authority on erosion 
and runoff problems. .. torn in North Carolina, July 1, 1888. .. studied 

Park ollege. . . then University of Arizona. .. became an Oxford 
scholar. .. .later studied in the University of California where he 
Look his Ph.D... a forester with many years experience. .. used to sleep 
out in the open ran^e and still likes plenty of fresh air... had prac- 
tical training in the 
state forests of Germany 
and France... in charge 
of timber acquisition in 
the A. E. T. . .member of 
special commission in 
Paris to assist the A- 
merican Peace Commission 
...selected by the Univ- 
ersity of Nanking to 
study conditions in China 
...his observations and 
discoveries gained wide- 
spread recognition... 
narrowly escaped death 
in Nanking when attacked 
by communistic element... 
member of numerous pro- 
fessional societies. . .delights 111 and is proficient in coining new 
soil erosion phrases. . .writes often and tcchn ically ... loves his work 
I I :s intensely interested in the Vest. ..married, two young children 
...sometimes gruff, sometimes abrupt, yet somehow, always courteous... 


Farm Management in the 
Erosion Control Program 

By E. Ha Reed 


The Soil Erosion Service must be so devisea as to increase farm 
incomes as well as save soil and water. The farmer is usually more 
interested in immediate financial returns than he is in saving soil 
for posterity. If we are to continue to receive his support and co- 
operation, we must be able to prove that the program is practical 
and profitable from the immediate as well as long time viewpoint. 

In working out the program for the individual farm, careful at- 
tention should be given in putting each field to its most practical 
and profitable use from the standpoint of farm management as well as 
from that of soil and water conservation. The farm program must fit 
the farmer's needs and give him the proper combination of enterprises 
for the greatest profit. This, therefore, places a grave responsi- 
bility on those in charge to see that a logical program is worked out 
for each individual farm. If this is done, there is little doubt but 
that the farm may be made to afford a larger income at the same time 
that soil and moisture is being conserved. 

The next step is to be able to prove whether or not the program 
is profitable. In the Salt Creek Area, an attempt is being made to 
do this. A farm management survey is being taken on each farm at the 
time work is started. This survey shows the farm management plan and 
the labor income before the program was begun. A large percentage of 
the cooperating farmers have agreed to keep general farm account re- 
cords in cooperation with the Soil Erosion Service. At the end of 
each year, these records will be analyzed to show whether or not pro- 
gress is being made and whether the income has been maintained or im- 
proved. Methods used and results obtained on the more profitable 
farms will be compared with those on the less profitable to determine 
why some farms pay better than others. This information then will be 
used in educational work with the fanners. 

Incomes will be correlated with soil type and degree of erosion 
in order to show the effect of erosion on labor incomes. This in- 
formation will be used to show the farmers the importance and desir- 
ability of erosion control. 

A research project is also being planned in which a historical 
study will be made to determine causes of erosion as effected by man, 
and the resultant economic and sociological effects. 



(Continued from Page 5) 

channel; Ibl insufficient gradients which cause the choking of the 
channel in places; (c) excessive distance between terraces, with con- 
sent increased soil loss from the inter- terrace; and (d) improper 
construction such as results in excessively high places in the chan- 
nel or low places in the ridge. 

Terrace outlets that are improperly protected may cause serious 
erosion and result finally in gullying. Numerous big gullies in ter- 
raced areas can be traced to concentrated discharge from the terrace 
system on unprotected slopes, or into channels that were not ade- 
quately protected. Once a gully is started in the outlet channel, an 
overfall is created for the water entering from the terrace, and this 
will result in a progressive gully extending up the line of the 
terrace . 

To overcome the dangers of improperly constructed terraces and 
terrace outlets, the Soil Erosion Service is attempting to make each 
terrace as nearly perfect as possible. The inherent dangers are an- 
ticipated and provided for as fully as may be possible. Points of 
danger resulting from improper construction are carefully checked and 
the defects corrected before the system is pronounced complete. Pre- 
pared terrace outlet channels are protected wit*< vegetation or struc- 
tures or a combination of both. Wherever possible, safe natural out- 
lets are used, with the discharge onto pasture sod, thick-growing 

er lands or into natural swales or depressions that can be pro- 
tected with a permanent sod. 

"erraces require some maintenance, and cooperators are taught 
the necessary procedure. Maintenance is ordinarily performed by 
plowing out the channels so that the furrows are turned to the ridge 
with the water or dead furrow falling in the lowest part of the chan- 
nel. This process deepens the channel three or four inches and is 
necessary for the first few years, or longer, after the terrace is 
completed. The process is adequately shown in the illustration. 

Other maintenance measures include filling breaks that may be 
caused by overtopping, or by low places resulting from settlement; 
removing silt from channels either by plowing, as illustrated, or by 
use of slip scrapers or blades. 


Terracing must be coordinated with other control measures. It is 
only in this manner that maximum control from cultivated areas can be 
achieved. Records of experiments show that terraces perform a ser- 


viceable function in prevention of erosion on certain adaptable lands. 
The records also show that the soil loss from heavily vegetated land 
is reduced to a mere fraction of a ton per acre. The introduction of 
close growing vegetation in connection with terraces is advocated by 
the Soil Erosion Service as the only effective method of reducing 
erosion losses to a minimum. The vegetation may be placed in the 
form of strips to be located between or on the terrace ridges; in ro- 
tations that utilize an erosion preventive crop at least one year of 
the rotation period; or seeding slopes to permanent pasture. Improved 
cultural practices that tend to keep the soil in a high state of ab- 
sorptive capacity is also a highly valuable part of soil conservation. 

In designing the terrace system other factors than runoff and 
carrying capacity of the terraces must be considered. For instance, 
soil characteristics, land use and cultural practicds should influence 
the terrace design. Gully control work also will often influence the 
design or vice versa, since the terrace system frequently can be used 
to divert water from a gully and thus materially reduce the cost of 
its control. Occasionally a convenient gully can be used as an out- 
let making construction of the terrace system less expensive. 


The practice of terracing agricultural lands was for a great 
many years the only widespread effort made towards controlling ero- 
sion. This resulted in a fallacious assumption on the part of many 
people that the construction of terraces was the only control method 
necessary. With the acquisition of new knowledge about erosion con- 
trol, gleaned from scientific experimentation and study, however, 
this idea is rapidly undergoing a change. We have learned that veg- 
etative measures of control are highly effective and that terraces 
can only be one factor in a properly coordinated program of control. 
The practical application of this new concept of terracing can be 
seen in recent activities on the part of Federal and state agencies, 
individuals, and cooperative organizations. 


Construction of terraces and terrace outlets is one of the ac- 
tivities of the Soil Erosion Service. Equipment adapted to varying 
conditions found on the several projects is being used. The Temple, 
Texas project uses light horse-drawn or farm tractor propelled blade 
graders satisfactorily. In the South, Southeast and Central West, 
the tractor operated blade grader with 8 to 10 foot blade has proven 
economical and is being used almost exclusively. In Kansas and Ne- 
braska, the elevating grader and heavy tractor give better results. A 

small supply of light horse-drawn blade terracers and terrace drags 
is available on all projects for use of cooperators in building their 
own terraces and in performing their share of the work to be done. 

It should be understood that the Soil Frosion Service does not 
propose to terrace all the lands of any cooperator in one season. The 
terracing program provides that the work be extended over three or 
four years, which necessitates restricting the yearly service for a 
cooperator to about 25* of the total acreage to be terraced. This 
arrangement guarantees service to a maximum number of farmers. The 
cooperator is required to perform a certain proportional part of the 
work incidental to terrace construction. His work will vary on dif- 
ferent projects but generally, he is required to fill all low places 
on the terrace ridge, open the ends of channels, harrow and smooth 
down the terraces and plant the ridges to close-growing, erosion- 
resisting crops. On other projects, he may be required to perform a 
specified minimum of work with the light equipment before the Soil 
Erosion Service begins operations with heavier equipment. In addi- 
tion, the cooperator is also required to adopt other measures which 
will further reduce erosion, such as contour cultivation, strip- 
cropping and the rotation of crops to include close-growing, soil 
holding legumes or grasses. 


Believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, a Soil Ero- 
sion Association has been formed in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana. 

It is the avowed intention of the association to go after a 
soil erosion project for that parish. A petition is being circulated 
throughout the parish, and latest reports are that a huge number of 
names have been attached thereto. 

As reported by the "Brushy-Cooley-Cypress Creek News, the 
service bulletin of the Minden project, officers of the Claiborne 
Association are keeping in close touch with the work on Project No. 
15, They state that the more they see of the work, the more deter- 
mined they are to expend every possible effort to secure such work 
for their own parish. 


J. 0. Lindley, Supervising Engineer of ECW work for the Soil 
Erosion Service, left Washington Dec. 15 for an extended inspection 
trip of all CCC camps under direction of the Service. 


Wind Erosion Endangering 
Colorado Vegetation 
By C.J.Whitfield 


Throughout eastern Colorado striking vegetative changes are tak- 
ing place in the native grass land as a result of wind erosion. At 
present the sod grasses, gramma grass, Bouteloua gracilis, and buf- 
falo grass, Buchloe daclq/loides, are the principal range species. 

There has been a decrease in density and height of the present 
native vegetative cover as a result of recurring droughts and serious 
overgrazing. In some areas dead plants of grama grass were observed, 
death undoubtedly being due to the drought. Density has been so re- 
duced in many areas that the various textured soils have begun to 
blow. It is not uncommon on range lands to see the soil set in mo- 
tion by gusts of wind and trampling of stock. Regions have been ob- 
served where native sod has been entirely blown out of the soil. On 
the sandy and sandy loam soils that predominate over eastern Colorado, 
soil blowing exposes roots and smothers entire plants by the deposi- 
tion of wind-blown material. 

Large tracts of marginal and submarginal land in eastern Colorado 
were* cultivated during the World War and the years following. The 
breaking of native sod, together with drought conditions, resulted, 
within a few years after plowing, in serious destructive wind erosion. 
Over large areas the soil has been completely denuded of the A-horizon, 
exposing the heavy adobe clay pan. This blowing is not by any means 
confined to coarse textured soils, but occurs with the same degree of 
intensity in fine textured ones as well. 

The carrying off of the finer soil particles by the wind and the 
leaving behind of the coarser materials are some of the most serious 
results of cultivation and overgrazing. The continuous blowing and 
piling by the wind of this coarser material has in some areas exposed 
roots and in others smothered entire plant communities. This expos- 
ure and covering of native vegetation is becoming of serious import- 
ance in eastern Colorado. 

The windblown material is deposited against existing barriers — 
houses, fences, barns, windbreaks and the like. One of the most com- 
mon barriers is the Russian thistle plant. It has spread from culti- 
vated and abandoned fields in all directions, and become lodged on 
range land and alcng fences. 


The firsi effect of tbe deposit of windblown material is the de- 
crease in density of the cover. Buffalo grass with its surface run- 
ners :s ^aja^ec more than gram grass with its underground parts. As 
the depth of the deposit increases, native grasses are damaged until 
only a few remnants appear. Finally a large area of range land is 
coffered, and Russian thistle dominates what was formerly a short 
grass plain. In some sections the area has been descla ted, with wind- 
blown material covering range land, fences, and partially covering 
barns and houses. In sandier areas bur-nut, Tribulus terrestris, 
replaces Russian thistle, and in some sandy loam areas purslane, Por- 
iulaca oleracea, predominates. Near Las Animas, almost the entire 
native grass cover, consisting primarily of grama grass, has been 
saothered out and only huge hummocks of Yucca remain. In another 
section nearby, sands have been sei in motion, active dunes are formed 
and even now are moving over and destroying large areas of native veg- 
etation and endangering buildincs and cultivated areas. 



Since the dawn of civilization men have dreamed, planned and 
completed works to extend and make secure that civilization. The 
earliest dreamers had to proceed by trial and error until a body of 
knowledge and experience was built up from which others could drae 
to plan their works with greater assurance of success and less waste 
of time and material. 

Men still dream and plan. But today they can crystallize and 
translate these dreams and plans into a medium which others can read, 
understand, and augment from their own knowledge. At the side of the 
planner — his translator into reality — stands the draftsman. 

From time immemorial, pictorial representation of ideas has been 
the easiest method of assimilation, and the draftsman, its exponent, 
is an invaluable and integral part of any organization entering anew 
undertaking which requires the coordination and cooperation of many 

The Drafting Section of the S.E.S. has sought to present an ac- 
curate, forceful representation of the composite best thought and 
experience of the personnel of the Service. It is at present engaged 
in the compilation of various types of data gathered from all avail- 
able sources for use in both field and office. As the field forces 
gather further and more exact information in our comparatively new 
line of endeavor, the department will be the instrument of correla- 
tion. The best available known methods of combating erosion are be- 
ing worked up into standards to be adapted in the field to each in- 
dividual case. Slides have been prepared for lecture purposes, to 
present clearly the need for erosion control. We are acting as a 
clearing house for aerial survey prints and as preceptors in their 
uses. Countless charts and miscellaneous maps have been worked up, 
and standardization of drafting methods in both field and office is 
being effected. All the art and poster work incidental to such a 
program as ours is being handled by this department. Reconnaissance 
Erosion Survey maps of every state have been reepared, and tabula- 
tions made of all types of erosion in each state. 



In the Land of Cotton 

» V 


fflustrating Proper Lavd Use w Soil ConserValm 

Continuing our series of exhibits displayed by Soil 
E&rosioo Service projects this fall, we show here what the 
visitor^ lo the Louisiana State Fair saw. It was pre- 
pared by the Mindeu project under direction of Mr. Mims. 


And Out Where 
the Tall Corn Grows 

And here is the exhibit prepared by the ingenious 
force at Albion, Nebraska, where R. L. v cn Trebra is Re- 
gional Director. W A deed to the land won't save the 
soil," the legend warns. 


A Symposium on Pastures 
B> hrnan Carrier 


T*o full days of papers and discussions at the annual meeting of 
the American Society of Agronomy held in Washington, D. C. November 
23-24 were devoted to a symposium on pastures. It was a splendid and 
worthwhile program from start to finish. Never before has there been 
so much interest evidenced in the grazing problems by the American 

nomists. Experimental work is under way at a dozen or more ex- 
periment stations. Some of these experiments have not progressed be- 
yond the lawn-mower clipping stage. Several states, however, notably 
Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio and Missouri 
have comprehensive pasture investigations under way where actual 
grazing by animals is being studied. 

A marked advance in grazing thought could be noted at these meet- 
ings. Instead of impassioned tirades on the sins of overgrazing 
there was a general recognition of the necessity of close, even, 
grazing to keep pasture plants in a vegetative condition for best re- 

Many chemical analyses have been made of pasture grasses in var- 
ious stages of growth which show that a greater production of protein 
per acre is realized when the grass is harvested at the most palatable 
stage for animals, that is, two to four inches in height, than wtten 
left to mature for hay, although the hay yield is much larger in 
pounds of dry matter per acre. 

One speaker emphasized the need of using the best soils for pas- 
Lures. That, to be sure, is a new idea for this country. Fertilizer 
experiments with pasture sward give the same contradictory results 
that they show with other crops. Phosphorus gives the best results 
under practically all conditions. Potash with phosphorus is helpful 
in promoting the growth of legumes. Nitrogen was the bad boy of the 
experimental school. In some experiments, notably those under way in 
Pennsylvania, applications of nitrogenous fertilizers gave marked in- 
creases in production. Other experimenters reported actual depressed 
yields for the total season's growth from the use of nitrogen. Lime 
alone in most cases is not very effective but used with phosphorus and 
potash may be beneficial. A number of experiments noted that herbage 
from fertilized areas ^as more palatable and richer in essential food 
constituents titan that from unfertilized soils* 


Some confusion of results was due to the fact that the experi- 
menters Were dealing with diverse conditions. The best procedure for 
the production of a permanent bluegrass-white clover sward might not 
give the most profitable results with a rotation pasture of only a 
few years' lay. 

It is hoped that the A. S. A. will publish all of these papers 
and devote another session to this very important subject three or 
four years from now. 


This formerly fine bluegrass pasture near 
Bethany, Missouri, is being cut to ribbons by 
gull 1 es. 



The American Soil Purvey Association has for its purpose the 
cjicnan^e of ideas, discussion of problems, aud the creation of in- 
terest in the study of soils as a natural body. 

Slice this is necessarily the basis of erosion control recom- 
mendations, the representatives of the Soil Erosion Service have 
been invited to become members. Meetings are held annually, and the 
proceedings, including papers presented, are published and distrib- 
uted to the members. Applications for membership, together with 
remittance for two dollars annual dues may be sent to the Secretary- 
Treasurer, Dr. Isstil L Patrick, Department of Agriculture, State 
College, n ennsylvania. 



While examining a shallow wash in a sloping field west of Lin- 
dale, Texas recently, one of the CCC workers noticed an unusual ap- 
pearing formation on the ground at his feet. He kicked it with the 
result that it was partially dislodgea and broken. Closer examina- 
tion revealed that the object was an Indian pottery vessel, one of 
several which had been uncovered by the action of water removing the 
soil from the slope. 

It was the custom of the Indians who inhabited East Texas before 
coaiig of the while man, to bury with their dead, pottery vessels 
Ol food and water, which were to sustain the deceased on his journey 
to the Happy Hunting Ground. Such burials were of varying depth, ac- 
cording to the hardness of the soil, but most of them were three or 
feet or more below the surface. Most, if not all of them would have 
reaaised undisturbed for centuries to come had it not been for the 
clearing and cultivating of the land, and the consequent washing away 
of the soil which covered them. 

Aside from the tragedy of the destroyed grave, it is interesting 
to consider the loss of soil which had occurred in exposing the bur- 
ial. Even if the burial had been only two feet deep, which is cer- 
tainly a minimum estimate, then two feet of tgpsoil, the most fertile 
and productive part of the soil, had been washed away and lost. 

The ownex of the farm upon which the burial was found is a co- 
operator witn the Lindale project of the Soil Erosion Service.