:evised. See no. 91, July 19^8.
WORKS PROGRESS AD/MINISTRATION
I'. C. I larrincjlon, Administrator Florence S. Kerr, /Assistant Administrator I lain. O. Alskcrg, Director ol Federal W filers Project
Florida Department of Agriculture
NATHAN MAYO. Commissioner Tallahassee, Florida
Federal Writer's Project of Florida
Table of Contents
Introduction ........... 5
Destructive Planting Methods 6
Florida Conservation Program ........... ....... 7
Federal Agencies Help 9
Permanent Program Planned 9
President Pushes Campaign ........ 10
The Farmer's Partnership with Society 11
Soil Conservation Districts.............. 12
District Administrative Set-up ..... 13
Paying for the Program ....... 14
Reforestation Work 16
Water Disposal Plans 17
Costs Are Small 18
Controlling Water with Vegetation 19
Disposal of Terrace Water ....... 19
Grasses Prove Effective 21
Buckbrush as Soil Binder 22
Prevention of Wind Erosion ........... 23
Fences as Soil Savers ..... 24
Vegetation Control Methods Tested 25
Curbing Damage by Livestock 26
"Annuals'" Check Wind Damage 27
Water Conservation ..... 28
Legislation Recommended 30
Plea for Forest Conservation 31
Combating Beach Erosion .... 32
Agricultural conservation has become synonymous with soil conservation to the American farmer of today. Such problems as crop rotation, crop control, and irrigation are still part of his daily occupation in tilling the land, but they have now been absorbed in the one factor which has become the most important in all agricultural programs.
The necessity for soil conservation was recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture more than fifty years ago, but the first modern, intensive studies along this line were made by Prof. W. J. Spillman, agriculturist in charge of the office of farm management. Bureau of Plant Industry, and published by the department in 1910. In a preface to Prof. Spillman's report, the Hon. James Wilson, then U. S. Secretary of Agriculture, stated:
"Our soils are by far the most important national resources. Professor Spillman makes clear the situation that confronts us in view of the fact that practically all of the more desirable farm land in the country has been brought under cultivation; and that to meet the increasing demands for foodstuffs, improved methods of farming must be used. Such methods must be employed as are best adapted to the conservation and maintenance of soil fertility."
Prof. Spillman compiled a number of bulletins setting forth the result of intensive research work in all parts of the country. "We are no longer a new nation", he stated in an introduction to his printed work. "We have deluded ourselves with the idea that we have unbounded resources, in land, in forests, in mineral wealth. We have been prodigal in the utilization of these resources. In many of our older communities soil fertility has been reduced below the point of profitable production. On the prairies of the West fertility is beginning to wane. In order that our heritage in the prairie country may not follow the descent of the East and South, it is necessary that intelligent and vigorous effort be made to farm correctly. We must cease abusing the soil. The renting of land on short leases for the purpose of growing grain for market is one of the surest means of reducing the productive power of the soil."
Destructive Planting Methods
Prof. Spillman pointed out further that the very magnitude and richness of our national domain had led to such prodigality in land-use that the Nation was confronted with increasing demands for food which had to be met by soils depleted of much of their yielding power.
In those days the migration of farmers from the East to the West was still in progress and the problem of caring for the land was intensified by rapid changes in ownership, with new proprietors putting into effect methods which were not properly adaptable to the character of the soil in which they were planting their crops. Exploitive farming was carried on to such an extent that the soil was further depleted by use of destructive methods of planting on a large scale.
Many Western farmers, who were offered good prices for their land, sold out and returned to the East. An unsatisfactory system of renting land sprang up, with short term leases to tenant farmers who had no interest in maintaining the fertility of the land because they were uncertain whether they would benefit by it.
Under these circumstances, prices for farm products were steadily increased when decreasing fertility of the soil, coupled with the use of new and expensive machinery, resulted in incresaed costs to the farmer.
Prof. Spillman recommended the following steps as a solution of the soil conservation problem:
"An increase of domestic animals on the farms, the planting of leguminous crops in much greater profusion, use of better seed, deep fall preparation of the soil, shallow and frequent cultivation of the crop during the growing season and especially after a rain, judicious use of commercial fertilizers, and increased use of home produced fertilizers."
Florida Conservation Program
Those recommendations, with others that have been developed through public and private research, now form the basis of all agricultural conservation work in the United States. They have been introduced in Florida with remarkable success by the State Department of Agriculture, headed by Commissioner Nathan Mayo. Mr. Mayo is assisted in this work by a board composed of three members and a directorall appointed by the Governor. Under Mr. Mayo's direction also are nine divisions; the State Marketing Bureau, the office of the State chemist, The Division of Agriculture and Bureau of Immigration, The Bureau of Inspection. The Land Division. The Field Note Division. The Prison Division. The Dairy Inspection Division, and the Citrus Inspection Division.
Among these agencies the one which is perhaps best known to the farmers of Florida is the State Marketing Bureau under the management of L. M. Rhodes. The work of this division, created in 1929. has been of great benefit to all tillers of the soil in the State, not only in supplying them with up-to-date information on the best methods of farming in Florida, but also in keeping them posted on the prices of crops through the newspapers and radio stations. Efforts of the division along this line have been ably supplemented with cooperative extension work in agriculture by the Agricultural Extension Service, College of Agriculture of the University of Florida.
The State Marketing Bureau also maintains an inspection service to check up on yields in various fruit and vegetable crops, livestock and poultry production, with the object of keeping farmers informed on new methods of increasing output and thus promoting the prosperity of rural communities all over the State.
A For Sale, Want & Exchange bulletin is published by the division at regular intervals, giving lists of items for sale, such as farm implements and machinery, poultry, livestock for breeding purposes, seeds, plants, and many kinds of miscellaneous goods. The division also compiles and
keeps records on shipments of fruit, vegetables and other products, exportations. manufactured products, mines, forests, fish and other seafoods, lumber, naval stores and all other resources, weather conditions, etc. In addition to sending these reports to farmers in Florida, the bureau supplies them on request to all interested parties in every state in the Union and in more than 20 countries on other continents.
Federal Agencies Help
The work of Mr. Mayo's department is supplemented by Federal agencies organized for the benefit of the farmers under the Agricultural Adjustment Administration. The object of these agencies is to restore to the American farmer as rapidly as possible the purchasing power which he enjoyed during the five-year period immediately preceding the World War.
These Federal agencies include the Commodity Credit Corporation, which lends or borrows money on agricultural commodities; the Farm Credit Administration, which provides long and short term credit in the form of farm mortgages, production and cooperative marketing loans; The Federal Intermediate Credit Bank, which provides agricultural credit for periods that are "intermediate" between the maturities usually available through short-term commercial bank loans and those of long term farm mortgage loans; Federal Land Banks, which make farm loans upon first mortgages only; Production Credit Corporations and Associations, which make permanent a production credit system for agriculture, cooperative in form; Regional Agricultural Credit Corporation which make direct loans to farmers and stockmen for agricultural purposes; Crop Production Loan Office, providing emergency facilities for financial institutions which aid in financing agriculture and industry; the Bank for Cooperatives, which make physical facility loans, operating loans, and effective merchandising loans; the Land Bank Commissioner, who loans to farmers for refinancing and reducing debts; the Federal Subsistence Homestead Corporation, which serves as the lending agency of the division of subsistence homesteads of the Department of the Interior and the Federal Farm Mortgage Corporation, which aids in financing the lending operations of the Federal Land Banks and the Land Bank Commissioner.
PERMANENT PROGRAM PLANNED
One object of the proposed plans for reorganization of government departments would be to consolidate the work of these various Federal agencies with a view of making
it more effective and, at the same time, providing a simpler and more direct contact between the farmer and his government.
The bulletins of Prof. Spillman, as important as they were to the welfare of the nation, attracted little attention except in the rural sections of the country. Farmers realized their value at once, particularly because Professor Spillman warned against wasteful, large-scale planting of crops on land not suited for their cultivation and against the practice of abandoning soil-depleted farms instead of trying to rehabilitate them by use of reclamation measures.
It was the forceful personality and power of the late President Theodore Roosevelt that brought the matter to the attention of the whole Nation. With Amos Pinchot of Pennsylvania and other prominent men interested in the problem, President Roosevelt launched a vigorous campaign for soil conservation. Roosevelt frankly told the American people that they were throwing away their birthright and compared the man who wasted his land to the prodigal who dissipated his heritage.
PRESIDENT PUSHES CAMPAIGN
Roosevelt's campaign at once awakened the public to the importance of soil conservation. His efforts have been revived and strengthened by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose ceaseless insistence upon the protection and development of natural resources has accomplished far-reaching results in all parts of the country. The United States Forest Service has been expanded and improved, the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior have concentrated their attention on this problem and have worked together, as far as conditions would permit, in assisting the farmer in caring for his only means of livelihood. The state forest services throughout the country, including the efficient organization in Florida, have cooperated with the Federal government. Emergency relief agencies, like the C.C.C. camps and forestry projects of the Works Progress Administration have also taken a hand in the campaign.
Tillers of the soil have been impressed by the fact that their stake in the land is not a mere chattel which they can
throw away or destroy in accordance with their own whims or desires. With the supply of "free land" exhausted, they have been told frankly by conservationists that they must take good care of the soil as a duty which they owe to society. With 50 million acres of land ruined by erosion and 100 million more approaching ruin as a consequence of improper land-use, the problem is no longer individual in character but one which affects every citizen of America.
THE FARMER'S PARTNERSHIP WITH SOCIETY
In his role as a partner with society in the preservation of natural resources, the farmer has a new concept of his importance in the life of the Nation. He has shown a willingness to cooperate in the government conservation program and is thankful for the help extended to him. He also welcomes an increased public interest in his problems and appreciates the offer of his fellow citizens to join him in saving a national asset which is not only destructible but irreplaceable. As a result, cooperation between the landowner and society has become the watchword in the campaign for soil preservation and reclamation.
The partnership between the farmer or rancher and society has found new expression in the passage of soil conservation laws by the legislatures of 22 states since January 1, 1937. Similar bills will soon be introduced in other state law-making bodies which are taking the cue from the pioneers and joining wholeheartedly in the program of the Federal government. The six million farmers and ranchers of the country are thoroughly aroused to the importance of their position as members of new farm organizations whose work is vital to the welfare of the United States.
These farm organizations were set up by the Federal government when it was realized that the problem of soil conservation called for community action. The efforts of the individual farmer, well-meaning though they might be, could not accomplish any lasting results unless they were coordinated with those of his neighbors. Soil carried by the water moves from the crest of the ridges down to the bottom lands along the streams. Consequently, if the man on the hillside does nothing to hold his soil and water where
they belong, the man down below can do nothing but grin and bear it when his crop and his good soil are buried by sand, gravel and raw clay from eroded fields higher up.
SOIL CONSERVATION DISTRICTS
To combat such problems, Congress passed the Soil Conservation Law which, in conjunction with state laws, provides for the organization of soil conservation districts formed in accordance with democratic principles and placing responsibility for formulating and promoting erosion-control programs squarely upon the shoulders of local people. Furthermore they require that the initiative must originate with local people and be based upon local needs.
Florida was one of the first states to pass soil conservation district laws. Legislators at Tallahassee realized at once the importance of the land saving program and lost no time in putting the necessary authority for it on the statute books. The law is an enabling act which permits Florida farmers to organize and form soil conservation districts with the status of governmental subdivisions of the State. These districts are formed voluntarily by farmers who work the land in the districts. The law does not compel them to organize. After a district has been formed and a certificate of organization granted by the State, the members have authority (1) to engage in cooperative action to combat soil-erosion and (2) to prevent local misuse of land by voting land-use regulations upon themselves.
The method of organization is as follows:
A majority of farmers in a county meet and decide to band themselves together for the purpose of pursuing a cooperative erosion-control program. They send a petition to the State Soil Conservation Committee at Tallahassee, requesting permission to organize a conservation district. The State committee then holds a public hearing on the matter and decides whether a district is needed. The committee defines the boundaries of the district (county lines) and gives notice of a referendum to be held to determine public sentiment.
All land occupiers or landowners may vote in the referendum and if a majority of them vote against creation of a
district that ends the matter. If the proposal for a district is approved, however, the State committee appoints two directors, who file a certificate of organization with the Secretary of State. When this certificate is issued, the district becomes a legal unit.
DISTRICT ADMINISTRATIVE SET-UP
An election is then called to choose three more directors.
In smaller counties the board may consist of three directors, two of whom are elected by the farmers.
The board of directors then secures technical assistance in buying such equipment as funds permit and the program requires. After the program has been operating for some time, individual farmers may decide against the idea and object to carrying out instructions they have received on the care of their land. The board of directors and neighbors of the farmers concerned must try first to induce them to cooperate. If this fails, the directors then draw up conservation ordinances and submit them to a vote of the people. If this vote is against the ordinances, they are not put into effect. If a large majority favors the ordinances they are put into effect and the directors have the power to get assistance from the courts in- compelling dissenters to comply with them. Penalties are provided for non-compliance with the court orders.
However, there is a chance that grave injustice may be done in some cases. The farmer who refuses to carry out the provisions of the ordinances may be right in his stand, and the directors may be wrong in requiring him to put certain regulations into effect on his land. To meet this eventuality a board of adjustment is set up in each district for adoption of land-use regulations, and this board has power to permit exceptions and variances from land-use regulations in cases where strict application of the law would result in "great practical difficulties or unneccessary hardships."
Despite these safeguards which have been provided for the individuals, it is possible that there will be districts
in which the procedures outlined will prove impractical. The law therefore provides that after a district has been in existence for five years farmers may petition to have it dissolved. This question is submitted to a referendum and if a sufficient number of people affected should vote to dissolve the district its affairs are brought to an end.
In the matter of crop regulation, under provisions of the 1936 Agricultural Conservation Program, about 23,060 farmers, organized into 25 county associations, participated in the 1936 Program in Florida. Of the total Florida cropland, about 57 percent, or 1,241,000 acres, was covered by applications for payments. The acreage diverted from soil-depleting crops (1,823 from tobacco, 34,292 from cotton, 5,751 peanuts, and 13,467 from other crops) totalled 55,333 acres. Soil-building practices were put into effect on about 564,000 acres as follows: new seedings of legumes and legume mixtures, perennial grasses for pasture, and green-manure crops, 512,156 acres; fertilizer and lime applications, 43,690 acres; forest tree plantings, 1,329 acres, and terracing, 6,641 acres.
PAYING FOR THE PROGRAM
Directors of districts are permitted to adapt known erosion-control practices and measures suited to local needs and to discover new methods of controlling different kinds of erosion that are impoverishing the land in that particular district. They are empowered to carry out soil-conservation operations, such as contour-cultivation, strip-cropping, and contour-furrowing or ridging of pastures. They may enter into contracts with farmers and give them financial and other assistance; they may buy land for retirement from cultivation and for other erosion-control purposes; make loans and gifts to farmers and ranchers of equipment, machinery, seeds, etc., take over and operate erosion-control projects, and recommend land-use plans for soil conservation.
The functions of the State Conservation Committee are to make the legal determinations necessary in connection with creating a district, to encourage the organization of districts, and to coordinate the several district programs "so far as this may be done by advice and consultation."
Members of the State committee serve by virtue of their positions as heads of State agricultural agencies, such as the director of the State Agricultural Extension Service, the director of the State Agricultural Experiment Stations, and administrative heads of other State agricultural units, State committeemen and directors of county conservation districts serve without pay. They may be reimbursed, however, for expenses incurred in carrying out their duties. Directors are permitted to hire employes to assist them. Expenses for all this work are paid partly by farmers directly affected and partly out of State funds.
Spectacles of destruction by unrestrained wind and water soil-erosion throughout the country, published in newspapers and magazines, have given sharp impetus to the efforts of the conservationists. "Why can't this thing be prevented?" is the question that has risen to the lips of thousands who realize that land destruction means improv-erished families. "It can be prevented," is the answer of expert technicians, who have zealously taken up the task.
Backed by the money of Federal and state governments, as well as the free advice of experts, the American farmer is in position to enter actively into the conservationists' program. That he has done so is evidenced by reports from various sections of the country and the comprehensive and widespread nature of the program is indicated by published accounts of it from many states.
In "Soil Conservation," official organ of the soil conservation service of the United States Department of Agriculture issue of December, 1937, we learn that New England farmers as well as those of the Mid-west, have a "dust bowl" problem. Blowing, sandy wastes are spreading over pasture lands which support cattle that are the only means of livelihood possessed by many in one of the country's oldest agricultural communities.
"Since deforestation and overgrazing have been the primary and secondary causes respectively of the sand blows," says this publication, "reforestation and controlled grazing are the long run methods advocated by the soil conservation service to help farmers overcome their wind-erosion problem. For temporary control, many farmers in the Winooski Valley area are resorting to the use of 'whisker terraces' and strongly built terraces of tree limbs and brush. The 'whisker terraces' are merely bundles of brush and limbs staked around the contour of the blows to check further drifting. They are effective on small areas. On larger blows, erosion-control technicians have taken their cue from soil-conservation practices which check water damage in other parts of the Northeastern states. They are using the tree-limb fences to break the sand blows into compartments to minimize the chances of dune formation and smothering of adjacent grassed areas. In other words, just as diversion terraces break up the velocity and volume of water by reducing the size of drainage areas, so these fences break up the shifting of sands by cutting down the 'blowing' area.
"Thousands of pine seedlings have been planted in these tree-fence compartments in large areas, and between the 'whisker terraces' on the smaller areas. Their roots can find a way to productive soil beneath sandy wastes, and. in years to come, will effect a permanent cure for many a Vermont farmer's midget desert. Fencing is also necessary on both the large and small areas to prevent grazing animals from browsing the seedlings or destroying the structures built for temporary control.
"On many of the blows farmers are making effective use of what would otherwise be wasteland by including wild life plantings in the reforestation process. In the not so distant future, farmer owners on the hills of the Winooski demonstration area will derive direct benefit from these plantings. The blows will be changed from creeping, sterile wastes to wooded thickets where fur bearers or game birds can find homes and provide a return worth many times the effort expended in halting the miniature but growing menace of wind erosion."
Water Disposal Plans
Another article in "Soil Conservation" deals with water disposal plans. "A water disposal plan for the entire farm is now required as a part of all new cooperative agreements and all agreements being amended in camp and project areas in region 2," says (South Carolina) Ralph Fulghum, author of the article.
"Such a system was adopted in South Carolina a year ago, and water disposal plans have been made a part of almost 2,000 cooperative agreements in the State. In its initial stage the system was so successful as to merit its extension to the entire region.
"These advanced plans have encouraged the use of vegetation in waterways, have greatly reduced the cost of the practice, and have given the farmer a better understanding of what he needs on his farm. It appears also to be one of the best methods by which the engineer can render technical assistance to large numbers of farmers in organized districts.
"Appearing somewhat like a weather map but with the arrows representing terraces instead of pressure areas, the plan for each farm shows where the necessary terraces are to drain, where terrace outlet channels and meadow strips will be needed, wooded areas that should be allowed to thicken before water is turned onto them, gullies to be vegetated before taking water from terraces, necessary relocation of roads, required stream-bank erosion control, pastures to be contoured, and other measures important in a plan devised to provide eventually complete control of all run-off water on the farm.
"By giving careful consideration to outlet locations and the establishment of vegetation before permitting any flow of water, the South Carolina farmers and engineers are able to take advantage of natural vegetative development. This allows also the location of strategic points for disposal of water and their reinforcement with vegetation, thus securing greater distribution of outlet water and less concentration in channels.
COSTS ARE SMALL
"Engineers and farmers in this region have found that by sprigging the channels a satisfactory vegetative stand can be established at about one-fourth the cost of strip-sodding a procedure necessary when the channel must take concentrated water immediately. The actual cost of strip-sodding six outlet channels of about average size in one of the camp areas was 50 cents per linear foot of channel. The average cost of preparing and sprigging live similar channels in the same area recently and considerably in advance of terracing was 14 cents per linear foot.
"The practice of allowing vegetation to become established in the channel before water is turned onto it should lessen the maintenance cost necessary to keep the channel functioning properly. This is emphasized by experience in South Carolina with sod-stripped channels which were used to carry concentrated water before the roots had become firmly established. In the event of heavy rains the sod was washed out. Eliminating maintenance work will make the channel more effective and further reduce costs.
"When the farmer has in hand a copy of the complete water-disposal plan and knows that it is a part of his agreement he has a better understanding of the complete program needed to check erosion on his farm. It also shows him a starting point as well as a definite goal toward which he can work. Usually a farmer does not terrace more than a third or a fourth of his land in a season; but with a complete plan in mind he can start vegetation on all outlets, and build the terraces as time permits during the next several years. With completion of the system in sight, the farmer has every incentive to speed up terracing.
"According to John Downing, the associate agricultural engineer directing the work in South Carolina, one engineer was able to make the usual water-disposal plan for a 10-acre farm in about a half day. A good draftsman can make the tracings to be blueprinted in two or three hours, and the total cost other than the engineer's time for making the average plan is between $2 and $3. This cost has been far more than offset by the decreased cost of vegetating channels in advance and the other advantages of the plan.
CONTROLLING WATER WITH VEGETATION
Many of the water disposal plans call for trees and other vegetation to thicken portions of wooded areas. In about a year's time much can be accomplished toward thickening such areas so they can safely take water from terraces and outlets. The plans call for full control in the form of tree and other vegetative plantings, as well as diversion of water from the gully where necessary to check erosion, and the filling up of small gullies and terracing across them. Relocations of roads that would otherwise run across planned terraces are shown in the plans. The important thing is establishing the waterway, however, determining where the terraces will drain, and this the South Carolina engineers have been able to do 90 to 95 percent correctly."
The problem of water discharge from terrace ends has been one of great concern to Southern agricultural engineers and farmers. For many years roadside ditches were washed out by red, bald-faced gullies and sinking fence-rows furnished evidence that it was futile to provide protection for one field with terraces while adjoining areas were destroyed by tons of flowing waters.
"Contributions to the ultimate solution of the problem were provided by decreased and variable grades and level terraces in low rainfall sections," says Harold G. Anthony, in an article in "Soil Conservation" on meadow outlet strips built in the State of Texas. But these expedients were inadequate, according to Mr. Anthony, who says:
"Simple to elaborate individual outlet and outlet-channel structures of concrete, rock, asphalt, wood, and other materials put in their appearance; and no one could deny their effectiveness nor their importance as contributions to the final solution for safely handling terrace water. Progress was being made, even though from the viewpoint of the landowner and operator these structural outlets and channels were costly and often prohibitive.
DISPOSAL OF TERRACE WATER
"And then came the vegetation method of controlling terrace watera procedure which in spite of periodic appearances throughout the decades, was never widely
adapted until the multiphase erosion-control program of the soil conservation service began planting its roots throughout the Southland.
"Like others, this method is not all-inclusive, but it can be used successfully only under certain conditions; but it has proved so satisfactory wherever adapted (in this region) that it is offered as one of the best.
"In this region, vegetated individual terrace outlets, vegetated outlet channels, and meadow outlet strips have universally supplanted in effectiveness and desirability all other schemes of "engineered" methods for disposal of terrace water. As a matter of course, however, the method which receives first consideration by planning groups is the outletting of terrace water onto unburned, properly managed woodland, well sodded pasture or established meadow. This, the most natural and simplest plan, is used when at all possible and practical.
"In project and camp areas (in this region), as always when establishing outlets, the location of meadow strips is determined well in advance of terrace construction. In this way, the outlet strip may be well established and protected by vegetation before it is ready for actual use.
"Meadow outlet strips are located to afford protection to the maximum number of terraced acres at the minumum cost. To bring about this condition, when terraces approach the maximum desirable length if possible they are brought into the meadow outlet. Wherever practical, meadow outlets are used as a means to terrace outlet protection.
"The meadow outlet strips should be located in a natural depression that is large enough to carry the volume of run-off diverted into it by the terrace system. Such depressions must have the lowest possible grade. It is often possible to use a location where there is a small gully or wash, by establishing the meadow on each side of the cut. Stabilization of the small gully can be accomplished by the use of sod bags or other vegetative control means. This stabilization measure is aided by plowing in, or by any other method whereby the gully banks are sufficiently sloped to allow machinery operations and crossings. It should
be pointed out here that full consideration must be given to the suitability of the site selected, and to the effect on cultivation practices in the field, before starting construction.
GRASSES PROVE EFFECTIVE
"In this (Texas) region technicians have found that slopes up to four percent can be held by meadow grasses commonly used for hay. Bermuda grass will afford the desired protection on slopes from four to six percent. These sod strips act as spreaders. For protection under normal rain-fall conditions, they ma}7 extend only across the lower part of the strip channel and it is not necessary that they extend the full width of the strip. It is also recommended that where available, Bermuda grass be used in the portion of the meadow outlet which is covered by the run-off from rains of average intensity. In order to prevent water cutting back and forming a gully along the edge in the cultivated field, terraces should be constructed to extend at least 12 feet in the strip.
"Experience with meadow outlet strips in the (Texas) region has shown that the last 50 or 100 feet of terraces entering the strip should be turned somewhat downhill and the depth of the cut on the upper side gradually reduced. This will bring the bottom of the terrace into the strip at a point near the ground level without changing the normal terrace grade.
"Where they are fenced, and if carefully managed, meadow outlet strips may be grazed. Stock should never be allowed on the strips during rainy weather, however, and must not be left at any one time long enough to form trails or to injure the vegetative cover."
Another article in "Soil Conservation" by W. W. Russell and L. H. Kahler tells of "living dams" established near Washington, that are effective in healing gullied areas. These structures are vegetative treatments, although they are mechanical in character. Engineers design them and foresters plant them.
BUCKBRUSH AS SOIL BINDER
"Members of the woodland management section of the Duboise Creek project last year observed that buckbrush grew abundantly on all soil types; that it spread naturally, but could be controlled by cultivation, that it was resistant to the grazing of livestock; that it was hardy, resisting extremes in temperature; that it was an excellent soil binder, often controlling small gullies and occasionally controlling small overfalls; that it could be transplanted easily, and that it was present in sufficient quantities to be transplanted.
"Accordingly the woodland management section on the project developed two types of buckbrush checks: (1) Those with wire backing, and (2) those without wire. The purpose of the wire is to support the buckbrush at least until its roots develop and it can support itself. Experience with the structures indicates that buckbrush checks in gullies draining over half an acre should be backed with wire. In smaller drainage areas, the wire is not considered necessary.
"In constructing a buckbrush check without wire, a trench eight inches deep is dug in a modified V-shape across the gully. Buckbrush is grubbed, obtaining a four inch or longer root if possible, and immediately transplanted into the trench. Soil is tamped in around the roots. Enough buckbrush is placed in the check to make a screen almost impervious to light.
"In constructing a buckbrush check with wire, the same type of trench as that described above is used. Posts are made of any wood the farmer has available and driven along the downstream side of the trench, spaced three feet apart. Woven or barbed wire is then stapled to the upstream side of the posts, the height of the wire in the bottom of the gully never being more than six inches above the flow line. The height is limited to six inches in order to reduce the height of the backfill that will form, thus reducing the possibility of creating an overfall. Litter will soon seal the check and the backfill will develop naturally. The roots of the buckbrush should not be allowed to dry out, and it is important that the brush be planted as soon as
possible after grubbing. A unique feature of these structures is that they require no aprons. When the backfill has formed, water running over it will percolate down the buck-brush and experience has shown that only in extreme cases docs an overfall occur.
"The checks placed during the fall of 1936 and those placed during the 1937 season (a season of practically normal rainfall) have lived equally well. Though rainfall in the spring of 1937 was unusually heavy, the buckbrush has not been killed out by moisture in the gully bottoms.
"To date the buckbrush checks have been successful, and they are being watched closely for future development. It is expected that the buckbrush will spread up and down the gullies. In discussing the dam, project staff members list three advantages of the living structures, (1) They can be used in gullies surrounded by cultivated land: (2) they seem capable of stabilizing gullies in tree planting areas until the trees are large enough to take care of the erosion, at which time the buckbrush will be shaded out; and (3) perhaps most important of all, the use of buckbrush dams constitute an erosion-control measure, which, because of its simplicity and economy, the farmers can put into effect on their own farms."
PREVENTION OF WIND EROSION
Methods used in the restoration of land severely damaged by wind erosion are discussed in "Soil Conservation" by D. A. Dobkins and Virgil S. Beck, who described measures in the Southern Great Plains. Special treatments mentioned in the article are here pointed out.
"On severly hummocked fields where soil drifts were so high as to prevent ihe use of ordinary farm equipment, it was necessary first to level the land to a point where it could be cultivated easily. During the emergency period it was imperative also that cropping systems be changed on most lands and that moisture conservation practices be established over the whole area.
"After leveling drifted fields, many farmers gave up the old cropping systems entirely and turned to grain sor-
ghum. On many farms, however, it was found advantageous to retain some of the crops and adopt strip-cropping plans with the non-erosion-resisting crops, such as corn, cotton, and beans planted in alternate strips with the soil binding sorghums.
"Experience in the demonstration areas of soil conservation service has proved that cash returns to the farmer using these wind-erosion control methods are greater than the cost of putting the practices into use. In addition, the farmer has protection against soil losses by wind erosion.
"The first wind-erosion control project in the country was set up in August, 1934, at Dalhart, Texas, at that time known as the capitol of the Dust Bowl. Since then, 26 other demonstration areas have been set up in the wind-erosion region."
FENCES AS SOIL SAVERS
Fences are being used to save soil throughout the Central Great Plains region. How successful the experiment has proved is explained in an article in "Soil Conservation" by Ivy M. Howard, a member of the conservation service at Salina, Kansas. From Northern Nebraska to cotton-growing sections of southern Oklahoma, fences are being used to save soil, he states.
"Fields enclosed with contour fences are fields that are easily tilled on the contour," he declares. "Fenced gullies, it has been found, are gullies that do not grow. Fenced farm ponds are ponds with dams, shore lines, and spillways not damaged by erosion, and fenced wood lots are wood lots from which raindrops never rush away as slit-laden flood makers. Fences to keep livestock off eroded acres is the price Mother Nature asks for her cooperation in providing a soil holding cover of natural vegetation for the areas. That the price is not considered exhorbitant by Central Plains farmers is shown by the fact that up to July 1, 1937, more than 11,000 acres of eroding lands in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska had been fenced for the primary purpose of protecting soil by protecting plant cover.
"Concentration of livestock is responsible for a large part of Central Great Plains erosion. That protection of the eroded areas from livestock will retard soil movement is being demonstrated on hundreds of farms where eroding areas are now fenced. These demonstrations show that wherever plant cover is destroyed or the climax type of vegetation thinned, a natural process of restoration sets to work as soon as the cause of the disturbance is removed. This means that if land is protected from grazing, fire, and concentration of run-off water, it will soon be covered with soil-holding vegetation.
VEGETATION CONTROL METHODS TESTED
"That vegetation is important in the control of erosion is shown by tests conducted by Dr. J. E. Weaver of the Uni-versity of Nebraska. Results show that there was no water lost as run-off when 2'A inches of water was applied in three hours to a good stand of native prairie grass 3K> inches high. The same amount of water applied to a pasture on which the grass stands had been reduced by overgrazing resulted in 29 percent run-off, with the run-off starting five minutes after the first water was applied. All water leaving the closely grazed pasture area was muddy. No erosion occurred on the land protected by prairie grasses, while on the overgrazed pasture area the soil loss was 165 pounds per acre.
"Protecting eroding areas by the use of natural vegetation is not land retirement; it is the re-dedication of the land to the production of the crops for which it is best adapted.
"On cultivated fields of the Central Great Plains region fences also play an important role in soil conservation. They make possible rotating grazing of pastures; they provide simple means of preventing overgrazing of supplementary pastures; and when located on the contour they solve the baffling problem of point-row elimination.
"In the Great Plains fences are important in connection with all erosion-control methods. Thousands of terraces in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska would be worthless if the fences were removed from around their terrace
outlet channels. Havoc would ensue if meadow strips which are depended upon for control of water front terraced fields were exposed to livestock. As for farm ponds, it is generally conceded that the best ponds are fenced ponds. Many ponds have large fenced areas immediately above them to ensure a good growth of slit-settling grasses."
Adoption of different grazing practices was found necessary to save the ranges and the range livestock industry in Southeastern Arizona. Using the quarter-million acre cattle ranch of William Ellsworth, agents of the soil conservation service conducted a series of experiments described by Kenneth M. Gapen, associate information specialist.
CURBING DAMAGE BY LIVESTOCK
Livestock was excluded from portions of the pasture lands to allow depleted soil a chance for a "come-back". This recovery took much time in the badly depleted, low rain-fall area.
"The range survey was made on the ranch in 1935," says the article in "Soil Conservation." "The next year the stocking of the range was reduced to the safe carrying capacity as indicated by the survey. Fifty-eight miles of fence was built to keep livestock from trespassing on the controlled range. The next step was the construction of 14 stock water tanks for proper distribution of the water supply.
"The range surveys showed that the entire Ellsworth ranch would carry about an average of four head of cattle to the section. Some of the sections were so bare of forage that the grazing capacity was nil. Some were better grazed and would carry 16 head a section or more.
"Ellsworth had four sections of range along the bottom of the valley. He had fenced this pasture 20 years ago and had used it wisely and protected it from soil washing through the years. These four sections were covered with an excellent stand of tobosa and sacaton grasses that would easily carry 20 head of cattle a section. This was an indication of what widespread management and improved cover can do in controlling erosion and feeding the cattle. To help check soil washing and protect the grasses, some of the
worst gullies were worked on. In some places the water was spread out over the land, and fences and stock water tanks helped distribute the home stock and kept out trespass stock."
These mechanical devices, says the article, helped considerably in improving the cover to raise livestock and to check soil and water losses.
"ANNUALS" CHECK WIND DAMAGE
Soil erosion problems of potato growers in North Dakota are caused chiefly by high winds that blow across the level land for several months each year. Wide-row plantings of annuals were found to be particularly effective in saving the soil. A few rows of corn were planted every five rods in the potato fields. These served as wind-breaks to protect the crop strips from the blowing. The corn was planted at right angles to the prevailing wind direction with the result that ground air currents were broken up and prevented from starting soil movement. Game birds soon found the outdoor cafeteria of corn and used it not only for food, but also for shelter and travel lanes. In some sections of North Dakota other tall growing annuals are used, such as sugarcane, Sudan grass or sunflowers.
Experiences of farmers in the gold-mining sections of California should be of interest to Floridians who live in the phosphate-mining belt of this State. Huge dredges had cut deep holes in the district adjacent to Sacramento. When the gold had been removed the dredges moved on, leaving the soil damage they had caused. Placerville, California, is the center of this district, but mining has been supplanted by a gold-in-the-grass-roots campaign. Hillside orchards have been saved for production by a permanent cover crop of well-rooted grasses, and fruit growing, the original industry of the locality, has again become the chief means of livelihood of hundreds of farmers. Water losses in this section have been largely overcome by establishment of storage basins. Some of the farmers have formed agreements whereby one can use the allotments of the others for a short time and then pass them on. Losses of water
through flumes have been greatly curtailed by establishment of concrete pipe lines which are used to store water in the basins.
Straw farming has been developed to a remarkable degree as a soil conservation measure, as well as a paying proposition, in central Washington and along the Columbia River in Oregon. The straw planting not only saves the soil from wind erosion during the winter months, but also retains considerable moisture for the crops that are planted in the spring.
Water conservation for the benefit of the farmer, as well as for use in the house, was forcefully brought to the attention of Floridians by the report of the Governor's commission on Conservation of Florida's Natural Resources, presented to Governor Cone on March 25, 1937. This commission was appointed under authority of a resolution passed by the Legislature and made an exhaustive study in all sections of the State of the subject under consideration.
To the average Floridian, water is the thing we have "got most of," and he cannot see how the supply might be depleted or how it might be controlled and improved or conserved in such a way that it can be used to the best advantage of the farmer and city dweller as well. A glance at the report of the Governor's commission would improve his vision. Discussing the subject of underground waters, the report says:
"It is true that there is a continuous replenishment of ground water from rainfall and the supply would last indefinitely if withdrawals from underground sources are kept within safe limits. Unfortunately, however, some sections of Florida are facing problems of water supply resulting from over draft augmented by careless extravagance in utilization and waste. This condition is most evident in those areas of artesian flow where large quantities of water are used for irrigation purposes. Some coastal sections have also impaired the quality of their ground waters through local over-development to such an extent they are no longer suitable for public supplies. Such results could
certainly have been deferred, and perhaps avoided altogether, if proper planning and consideration had been given in the first place. The problems that have arisen include not only the question of quantity of water available and quality but also the best means of recovering and developing it and protection from pollution and impairment mainly by the infiltration of salt water.
"The surface waters of the State have not been utilized to a very great extent as sources of municipal or other public supplies. Such waters, however, are of exceptionally good quality from a chemical standpoint and in this respect offer advantages that most of the underground waters do not possess. Consequently the surface waters are being more and more developed for various such purposes and undoubtedly as the State develops they will be made greater use of. It is therefore wise that measurements of flow throughout the State be continued on such streams as already have stations upon them and that others be established. Such records must be available in order to invite industrial expansion.
"In view of the importance of the surface and underground water supplies to the State and the need for conservation and protection as shown by a study of these resources, your commission is of the opinion that legislation having for its purpose the conservation of the underground and surface waters of Florida, their protection and regulation as to development, should be enacted. Certain it is that waste of this valuable resource should no longer be permitted and methods to control and preserve to the citizens this heritage are necessary."
The report deals particularly with fullers-earth, kaolin, forests, wildlife, fisheries, and trapping. It recommends that "fines", the residue resulting from processing fullers-earth be treated experimentally with a view to discovering some method for utilizing this material either in the decolorizing of oils and fats or in some other commercial field, with resulting advantage to the industry.
Investigating with a view to finding a better market outlet for the residue of white sand after kaolin has been extracted is recommended in the report, which states that this silica sand could be advantageously used either for glass manufacture; as a substitute for ground flint ceramic whiteware or in greater amounts for production of mortars and concrete. Establishment of plants for the manufacture of finished clay products in the State, rather than shipping the raw clay elsewhere, is also recommended.
A large section of the report is devoted to conservation of forests, wild life, fish and game. The Florida farmer will find these factors important in connection with agricultural conservation because they all have a direct bearing upon tillage of the soil. The average city dweller might find it difficult to see any connection between fisheries and farming. But fish fertilizer factories at Fernandina, Mayport, St. Augustine and other points will immediately convince him that successful farming often depends directly upon successful fishing.
PLEA FOR FOREST CONSERVATION
The forests of the State, says the report, produce an annual income of $80,000,000 second only to the returns from agriculture. Three hundred and fifty thousand people are dependent upon them for a livelihood, including 71,000 wage earners. Thus, nearly one-fourth the population of the State is directly dependent upon the forests and their products.
Methods for conservation of the huge Florida timber tracts recommended in the report are curbs on annual woods-burning over-cutting and destructive operating practices in the timber industry. Landowners are losing interest in acquiring and developing forest properties because the practice of woods-burning, high tax rates and uncertainties of taxation, and timber theft have prevented them from realizing satisfactory returns on their investments. For this reason approximately 12,000,000 acres out of a total of 22,000,000 acres of forest lands have become tax delinquent, with resultant losses of enormous revenue to the State and counties. The report says that practically none of the millions of dollars in taxes collected on forest lands which represent 63 percent of the land area of the State has been used in a way to benefit directly the owner of forest lands.
Reforestation of 8,000,000 acres of cut-over lands, making them suitable for farming, grazing, game preserves, recreational areas and State parks is also suggested as a vital part of the program.
Woods-burning has been perhaps the greatest single factor in the depletion of Florida forests. Indiscriminate and wasteful burning of woods results in losses not only to the owner of the trees but to the whole State as well. The report of the commission urges that the State and counties recognize their responsibilities in affording greater protection to landowners against fires which have already cost millions of dollars by cutting wide swaths through some of the most valuable timber sections.
Efforts of the Florida Board of Forestry and the Federal government to prevent or control forest fires have met
with strong opposition. Woods-burning had become a custom in this State and old residents could not understand why such a practice would impair Florida's resources. However, their opposition to the conservation program has been almost overcome by a persistent and effective educational campaign.
Commenting upon further steps which have been taken to conserve Florida's trees, the commission calls attention to the newly-created forestry school of the University of Florida. This school, the only one located in the slash pine-belt, is in the center of one of the most productive timber regions of the United States. Additional funds are recommended for this work in order that the school may become an accredited school of forestry.
Demonstrations of desirable forestry practices are highly recommended, as a means of showing Floridians the best methods of conserving so important a part of their heritage. Strict maintenance of game refuges is urged. Continued State support for CCC camps is strongly advocated on account of the reforestation work done by these projects.
Important items of natural conservation work in Florida completed by CCC enrollees from April 1933 through June 30, 1937 include:
Forest stand improvement, acres 218,013
Forest trees planted 13,605,500
Fire, breaks, miles 14,554 Fighting forest fires, including presuppres-
sion, man-days ........... 191,159
Fire hazard reduction, acres 80.523
Fences, rods 109,024
Lookout towers .......................__________............ 73
COMBATTING BEACH EROSION
Safeguarding of the State's enormous coastline and incomparable beaches, a source of recreation and commercial prosperity for Floridians and tourists as well, should be a matter of great concern, according to the report. The beaches in some sections have been damaged seriously by
soil erosion and more comprehensive and unified efforts by the State and municipalities are urged to safeguard them from future encroachments of the sea.
In this connection, the commission notes with satisfaction that assistance has been given by the College of Engineering, University of Florida, in investigation and study of the intricate problems connected with beach erosion and urges that this important work be encouraged.
Additional impetus will be given to this work with completion of a $75,000 hydraulic laboratory on the campus of the University of Florida. This scientific research unit, now being constructed under WPA auspices, will be operated by the university College of Engineering experiment station in the study of beach and shore erosion and will also be used in attempts to solve problems of Everglades drainage and river and harbor conditions throughout the State.
Soil Conservation, official organ of the soil conservation service U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C.
Report of the (Florida) Governor's Commission on the Conservation of Florida's Natural Resources, March 25, 1937.
Farmers' bulletins, published by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, 1910.
Summary Report, Florida State Planning Board, March, 1934-Doc, 1936.
Progress report of the National Resources Committee submitted to the President, June 15, 1936.
State Planning (program and accomplishments), published by National Resources Committee, Dec, 1936.
Information on the New Agricultural Adjustment Act, published bv the Florida Department of Agriculture, April 1936.
Soil Conservation Districts for Erosion Control, published by the U. S. Department of Agriculture (soil conservation service) Oct., 1937.
Wither Conservation? a pamphlet published by the American Forestry Association, Washington, D. C, a recent publication, not dated.
Bulletin of the National Emergency Council for Florida, published by the Emergency Council for Florida. Dec. 1, 1936.
The Government in Agriculture, bulletin published by the Florida Department of Agriculture, a recent publication, not dated.
Forest Trees of Florida, published by Florida Forestry Association, 1925.
The 1937 Agricultural Conservation Program, an article by Cully A. Cobb in the Florida Grower, Feb., 1937.
Articles of Association (as amended) of County, Agricultural Conservation AssociationSouthern Region, published by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Feb. 12, 1937.
Value of Farm Real Estate Per Acre, graph and statistical material from bulletin, published by U. S. Department of Agriculture, July, 1937.
Amendments 3 and 12 to 1937 Agricultural Conservation Program, Southern Regional Bulletin 101, published by U. S. Department of Agriculture, not dated.
Location of Federal agencies operating under the Agricultural Adjustment Administration:
Commodity Credit Corporation, 1825 H. St., N. W-, Washington. D. C.
Farm Credit Administration,
1300 E. St., N. W-, Washington, D. C.
Federal Intermediate Credit Bank, 1300 E. St., N. W Washington, D. C.
Federal Land Bank, Land Bank Commissioner, 1300 E. St., N. W., Washington, D. C.
Regional Agricultural Credit. Corporation, 1300 E. St., N. W, Washington, D. C.
Seed Loan and Crop Production Loans, Governor of the Farm Credit Administration, 1300 E. St., N. W., Washington, D. C.
The Bank of Cooperatives, Cooperative Bank Commissioner, 1300 E. St., N. W., Washington, D. C.
The Land Bank Commissioner,
1300 E. St., N. W., Washington, D. C.
Federal Subsistence Homestead Corporation, 1800 E. St., N. W., Washington, D. C.
Florida State Marketing Bureau,
St. James Building, Jacksonville, Fla.
Federal Farm Mortgage Corporation, 1300 E. St., N. W., Washington, D. C.