What were the causes of dust bowl?

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Dust Bowl was the result of a confluence of poor farming practices and exceptionally bad climatological conditions. Farmers in the Great Plains had planted hard red wheat for many years, as it was a reliable cash crop. They did not understand the need for crop rotation, and as a result, the soil soon became depleted. Seeds planted refused to germinate. At the same time, an exceptional drought fell upon the area, resulting in no rainfall. The little topsoil left blew away in gigantic dust storms, and with it the seed farmers had planted. They were left with no topsoil, no seed, and lost everything. Crop rotation would have been of some assistance, however there is little that could have been done to avert the damage caused by the drought.

jmstrande | Student

The Dust Bowl occurred throughout the Great Plains region of the United States, and even up into Canadian prairies from 1930-1936.  It displaced thousands of families due to the loss of their livelihoods as farmers and added another layer of strife to the already struggling country in the midst of the Great Depression.

Widespread drought hit the plains in 1930, and was severe enough to cause major crop failure.  The soil in the Great Plains was exceptionally rich and farms had flourished.  However, after decades of simply plowing and planting the land, it had lost the deep roots of prairie plants that protected against erosion.  Farming techniques that diminish the effects of wind erosion such as rotating crops, allowing a field to lie fallow (land that is plowed but left unplanted), and planting windbreaks or cover crops were not generally practiced in the area, and when the drought hit the exposed dirt turned to dust and blew away to the east and south, sometimes in enormous clouds.  These two instances combined to affect 100,000 acres of land throughout Great Plains.

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