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The general trend in Western Washington agriculture is toward greater crop specialization, which in turn requires smaller units of land and more intensive cultivation and fertilization. As now constituted it is essentially a vegetable -berry- poultry - dairy proposition . Agriculture is also markedly influenced by the market possibilities of the urban centers around Puget Sound, Soil Erosion as a Geographic Determinant in the Northwest Ï. WlM(JHT [IAYLOIt Section (if Information U.K.I).A,, Soil f'nnsorvatinn Service, Spokane, Washington Soil and water are vital determinants of socio-economic adjustments . Fertile soil, abundant water , and productive protective vegetative cover form a trio of elements in the natural environment which the geographer cannot overlook . Until recently the supposition has existed that the supply of these elements of the natural environment was relatively inexhaustible . Scientific research, as well as casual observations, have proved the supposition false. They have proved that certain definite conservation measures are necessary to insure future soil and water supply The Pacific Northwest, although an infant in terms of years of settlement , has already become a region suffering severely from soil and water losses. A survey of geographic subdivisions of the Pacific Northwest states discloses that numerous changes of a social and economic nature have already taken place as a result of the depletion of the supply of soil and water. The production of cultivated crops in the famous Palouse wheat belt had hardly begun 65 years ago. Yet in slightly over a half century many farms have run the gauntlet of soil mining to the point where large acreages are no longer suited to cultivation. These farms, once prosperous, played a definite part in de'ermining the course of affairs in the communities concerned . The land, likewise, played a definite part in determinirg the type and extent of geographic adjustments both in the rural and urban sections. Only through immediate action along lines of soil protection and rebuilding will the increasing number of erosion-scarred slopes, abandoned farmsteads, and fading villages be stopped. Similarly, the wind erosion problem which has caused marked alteration in land use in submarginal areas has also played a part in determining the nature of geographic adjustments. Although the problems of the irrigation farmer are peculiar to that type of farming, he is, however , faced with the contrai of water or wind erosion where soil structure has not been maintained. Rapid erosion of tributary watersheds is causing the water resources upon which the irrigated sections depend to become less and less each year. Perhaps the geographer is most concerned with this fact, and the rapid silting of numerous reservoirs which hold water that is the life-blood of these irrigated valleys. Here again problems of soil and water loss will determine , in a large measure, future geographic adjustments. (211) The stock raising industry of the Northwest has suffered severely from depleted pastures. Once luxuriant bunch grass ranges now present a dismal picture of sage and land. Range lands once noted for their carrying capacity no longer furnish abundant feed. Not only has the grass supply become depleted to a critical point, but the water supply has also been decreased because of rapid run-off. A program of restoration of these depleted lands together with proper use of yet productive ranges must be initiated to prevent further changes in the types of adjustment on range land areas. The forest land picture must be looked at both from the standpoint of the improper cutting of the timber supply as well as from the standpoint of overgrazing of forest ranges. Improper utilization of vast forest resources have already resulted in land abandonment, barren slopes and ghost towns. Cultivated lands of the coastal valleys must be so managed that soil structure and fertility are maintained in order to increase their productivity or to maintain their present geographic pattern. Highly productive lands of England and Germany have been cultivated for centuries while we in the Northwest have damaged thousands of acres of valuable land in 65 years. Our ruthless destruction of cultivated grazing or forested areas has had a profound effect upon changes in geographic adjustments of the future will be determined by present and future conservation of our soil...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1551-3211
Print ISSN
0066-9628
Pages
pp. 26-27
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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