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Dry Farming Widtsoe

Dry Farming Widtsoe

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Published by jactofone

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Published by: jactofone on Apr 30, 2012
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In the consideration of the downward movement

of soil-water it is to be noted that it is only when the

soil is toleralily moist that the natural j^recipitation

moves rapidly and freely to the deeper soil layers.
When the soil is dr}', the downward mo^Tment of

the water is much slower and the bulk of the water

is then stored near the surface where the loss of mois-

ture goes on most rapidly. It has been observed

repeatedly in the invi^stigations at the Utah Station

that when desert land is bniken for dry-farm purposes

and then proi)erly cultivated, the precipitation

penetrates farther and farther into the soil with

every }'ear of cultivation. For example, on a drv-

farm, the soil of which is clay loam, and which was

plowed in the fall of 1904 and farmed annually there-

after, the eighth foot contained in the spring of 1905,

6.59 per cent of moisture; in the spring of 1906,

13.11 ]jer cent, and in the s]>ring of 1907, 14.75 per

cent (jf moisture. On another farm, with a very

sandy soil and also plowed in the fall of 1904, there

was found in the eighth foot in the spring of 1905,

5.03 per cent of moisture, in the spring of 1906, 11.41

]X'r cent of moisture, and in the sjjring of 1907, 15.49

])er cent of moisture. In Ijoth of these tyjMcal cases

it is evident that as the t(jpsoil was loosened, the

full field water ca])acity of the soil was more nearly

ap])roached to a greater depth. It would seem that,



as the lower soil layers are moistened, the water is

enabled, so to speak, to slide down more easily into

the depths of the soil.

This is a very im])ortant principle for the dry-



the soil to a depth of 8 feet or more. The larger

the quantity of water in the soil in the fall, the more

readily and quickly will the water that falls on the

land during the resting period of fall, winter, and

early spring sink into the soil and move away from

the topsoil. The top or first foot will always con-

tain the largest percentage of water because it is the

chief receptacle of the water that falls as rain or snow,

but when the subsoil is properly moist, the water

will more completely leave the topsoil. Further,

crops planted on a s(nl saturated with water to a

depth of 8 feet are almost certain to mature and

yield well.

If the field-water capacity has not been filled,

there is always the danger that an unusually dry

season or a series of hot winds or other like circum-

stances may either seriously injure the crop or cause

a complete failure. The dry-farmer should keep a

surplus of moisture in the soil to be carried over

from year to year, just as the wise business man

maintains a sufficient working cajjital for the needs

of his business. In fact, it is often safe to advise

the prospective dry-farmer to plow his newly cleared

or broken land carefully and then to grow no crop

on it the first year, so that, when crop production

begins, the soil will have stored in it an amount of

water sufficient to carry a crop over periods of drouth.

Especially in districts of very low rainfall is this

practice to be recommended. In the Great Plains



area, where the summer rains tempt the farmer to

give less attention to the soil-moisture problem than

in the dry districts with winter precipitation, farther

West, it is important that a fallow season be occa-

sionally given the land to prevent the store of soil

moisture from becoming dangerously low.

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