How long would it take for fertile farm land to turn to dessert?

Jump to Last Post 1-5 of 5 discussions (16 posts)
  1. backporchstories profile image72
    backporchstoriesposted 7 years ago

    In my neck of the woods, the surrounding countryside is burning to a crisp brown!  We are in dire need of rain and farmers have no real way to pipe water to irrigate the fields.  They are at the mercy of Mother Nature!  So as I walk outside in my country yard and hear the dry snapping of grass beneath my feet, I wonder, how long and what conditions would have to persist to make this fertile land turn to dessert or become arid and unfertile?

    1. Randy Godwin profile image91
      Randy Godwinposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      It wouldn't take very long at all if the rains didn't come.  As a farmer in southeastern Georgia, I can say we suffered the same dry spells several years in a row and it does depress you to walk on grass which feels like dried hay underfoot.  Or when there's not enough moisture in the air of a morning to even leave a light dew to freshen up what few crops still surviving.

      And for those who don't believe in Global Warming, the weather is not the same here now as when it was 50 years ago.  I wonder what it will be like only 20 years down the road?

      Tropical storm Debbie gave us plentiful rains.  Sorry you guys didn't get a bit for your area.  smile


      1. backporchstories profile image72
        backporchstoriesposted 7 years agoin reply to this

        It is scary...

    2. Dale Hyde profile image87
      Dale Hydeposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      There are alternatives to the crisis... if folks would remember to respect and honor the earth that provides for us, healing would take place. Until that happens, well, we can go the way of the rainmakers and raindancers, which I am sure that you are familiar with living in a rural community. They work, and they can summon the rain. A simple concept that is recorded over thousands of years on all land masses of the world.

  2. profile image0
    Hubert Williamsposted 7 years ago

    I suppose that would have to do with what kind of care was taken with the planting. Crop rotation and proper irrigation goes a long way to keeping land fertile. As far as irrigation goes, if there is not a lot of water available plant crops that require less water. That information and cash money will buy you a nice cup of coffee.

    1. backporchstories profile image72
      backporchstoriesposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      I think some of the farmers carry an attitude of....bummer crop, oh well, guess insurance will take care of it....hmm.  Instead, like you mentioned, we should be looking at different crops and look at those issues if this weather continues to be unrulely.

      1. Druid Dude profile image61
        Druid Dudeposted 7 years agoin reply to this

        Amajor drought could do it in less than a year. And thats DESERT. The other one comes with whipped cream.

        1. backporchstories profile image72
          backporchstoriesposted 7 years agoin reply to this

          LOL.....that is one of the top ten mispelled words for me!!!!!!  Thanks

  3. Tusitala Tom profile image64
    Tusitala Tomposted 7 years ago

    Apparently it doesn't take long.  I'm not talking about drought but, rather, ruining the land by our own ignorance and, sometimes greed. 

    I'm told that if you plant a crop like wheat in the same field for just a few seasons the ground will lose most of its minerals and nutriments.  This will kill lots of the natural bacteria and the soil will lose out by breaking up, becoming sandy.  Kept on for too long, a wheat field can turn into a desert area. 

    This is well known and 'rotation of crops' was introduced to counteract this.  However, some of the legume-type vegestatables don't fetch as much money as grain, so the temptation is to push that extra crop of wheat...

    Another way to turn good land into a desert is to overgraze it, especially with sheep.  They chomp the grass right down to the roots and even include the rooms at times.  Trampling hooves also compact the soil making it hard for regeneration.

    Much of the Australian outback is now in dire straights because over grazing by sheep.   What can take just a couple decades to go to ruin can take much longer to come back, even with expert assistance.

    1. backporchstories profile image72
      backporchstoriesposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      I knew about crop rotation, but never thought of what grazing will do.  Thanks for your input!

  4. recommend1 profile image64
    recommend1posted 7 years ago

    Sorry - but most of this is pretty much wrong.  Dry spells of even a few years do not make desert, the first rain greens it all back up again.  It is the destruction of the topsoils by bad farming, raising salt content and over-grazing etc that accelerates the process.

    The main problem of course is farmign in the wrong place.  Half of American 'farm' land is in areas that have always gone through periods of years of drought and a few years of green,  taking the good years as normal kinda screws you when the bad years come and there is no financial support through those times.   There is a same but different problem in many countries where flood plains are built all over - and then everybody screams blue murder when the inevitable floods arrive !

    This is about greedy people selling land to gullible people and getting away with it by blaming nature.

    1. backporchstories profile image72
      backporchstoriesposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      I hear what you say!  But this question stems from the drought we are having and the land burning.  What kind of conditions and for how long should those conditions exist before a piece of land become dry and arid like a desert.

      1. recommend1 profile image64
        recommend1posted 7 years agoin reply to this

        It doesn't - it will green up just fine when it rains - but save up for the next time because it is sure to come.

  5. mega1 profile image78
    mega1posted 7 years ago

    There are many kinds of desert - the "natural" deserts that resulted from many years of climate change, and the slow receding of the oceans that make those sandy deserts are one.  But there are also "natural" high country deserts that are still teeming with life, if you look closely.  Actually, humans just have to adapt to the changes in their world as climates change.  We've done pretty well so far.  It helps to study the way the earth's huge weather patterns coexist and see that it would take a long time to create a real desert out of green land.  There is an ebb and flow in everything.  But, definitely, over-grazing and other unsustainable agriculture can ruin the land for a long, long, time and it is a slow process bringing it back.  If you've ever gardened on hard clay soil, you will know that the best way to keep the soil fertile is to compost.  I see that huge composting efforts can have a great effect on helping the soil conserve what moisture it does get.  Hopefully, we will never again have the dust bowl days of the Great 30's Depression!

    1. backporchstories profile image72
      backporchstoriesposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      I really like what you said and how you said it.  Thanks!

      1. backporchstories profile image72
        backporchstoriesposted 7 years agoin reply to this

        ....especially the ebb and flow image.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)