The Dixon Land Imprinter: Combating the Effects Of Desertification

The Dixon Land Imprinter machine may help rectify the effects of desertification by dozens of decades of overgrazing and overcropping our agricultural lands, including the air-earth interface processes.

| March/April 1986

After a dozen decades of overgrazing and overcropping, our western agricultural lands — both public and private — are in real trouble. But help may be on the way in the form of the Dixon Land Imprinter. 

For a good many months, the media have kept us painfully abreast of the starvation, death, and general misery being visited upon the African continent — misery arising, in part, from the effects of desertification of the land as a result of years of overgrazing and poor farming practices. Unfortunately, those same newspapers, magazines, and television stations have been slow to point out that the same tragedy could happen here.

Combating the Effects Of Desertification

Of course, if you know about the Depression-era dust bowl, then you know that a soil crisis has already occurred in the Great Plains region of the U.S. It could certainly happen again, and it could be much worse the next time. In fact, some climatologists and soil scientists not only believe that America could suffer a far more devastating replay of the dust bowl in the not-too-distant future, but maintain that we undoubtedly will if the present trend toward desertification of farmland and pastureland in the semiarid West — especially on the dreadfully overgrazed and chemically abused public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) — isn't halted and reversed in the near future.

It's been said that a country's long-term strength can best be gauged by the health of its topsoil, and it's true; once those precious few inches of decomposed organic matter that directly or indirectly sustain all life on this planet are cow-chewed, plowed, and herbicided into sterility, then washed and blown away because there's no longer any vegetation to hold the soil in place, the American West could become another Ethiopia, capable of sustaining life only through the compassionate generosity of those who have better guarded their legacy of arable land.

For that reason, many environmentally concerned soil scientists feel that the present rapid rate of degradation and loss of topsoil worldwide is the single most formidable threat facing humanity today, with the present misery in Africa being only the leading edge of what's likely to follow.

And while there's a limit to what can be done to help Africa, it's not too late to halt the trend toward desertification here at home. Consequently, the staff of THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS is vitally interested in spreading the word about natural, nontoxic approaches to conserving (and restoring) the topsoil and increasing the sustainable productivity of our land.

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