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The Great Plains of the U.S. was used primarily for grazing cattle, but after the Homestead Act of 1862, thousands of settlers started farms in the grasslands. Many of these farms failed due to the harsh conditions that come along with dryland farms, but thanks to some revolutionary changes in farming techniques, these failures grew less frequent.
First, the introduction of new crops helped reduce fallow fields. Winter wheat was introduced from Europe, along with corn, beans and even watermelons. These crops were able to thrive with a minimum of rainfall.
In order to capture as much moisture as possible, summer fallow rotations, leaving stubble to capture snow moisture and terracing of fields were all techniques perfected in the Great Plains.
To prevent erosion from taking valuable topsoil, windbreaks, low tillage, spreading straw and strip farming were all utilized.
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