Letter of the Day (May 19): Agriculture and erosion

  • Updated: May 16, 2014 - 6:35 PM

In Minnesota, there’s a contest between trees and plowed land. Trees are losing.

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Cutworms and drought ruined a corn crop near Appleton, Minn., during the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s.

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As we were driving recently through Minnesota’s beautiful blooming countryside, we were disturbed to see hundreds of tree stumps poking out of the plowed earth. Once part of groves planted to prevent erosion, they’ve been cut down, making way for more plowable land. I was told that after straight-line winds a couple of summers ago, many of these groves were useless anyway, and at $12 per bushel (at least) for soybeans, every square foot of tillable land is money in the bank. But even if the damaged trees aren’t as lush as before, they still provide a wind screen. Why not plant a few young saplings to enhance new growth?

I’m too young to remember the Dust Bowl, but have certainly heard enough about it to be shocked at how easily people seem to be forgetting. We have just received gloomy predictions about drought and floods, which both can contribute in devastating measure to soil erosion.

I encourage readers to:

• Contact their representatives to increase rewards for soil conservation.

• Seek help from the existing government Conservation Reserve Program and wetlands restorations projects.

• Contact the Natural Resources Conservation Service in their counties for additional help and resources.

 

For strong motivation, everyone will be enriched and amazed by reading “The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great America Dust Bowl,” by Timothy Egan. History should be a strong teacher, but often its lessons turn to dust.

Kathleen Wedl, Edina

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