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

  1. backporchstories profile image80
    backporchstoriesposted 5 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 image93
      Randy Godwinposted 5 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 image80
        backporchstoriesposted 5 years agoin reply to this

        It is scary...

    2. Dale Hyde profile image85
      Dale Hydeposted 5 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 5 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 image80
      backporchstoriesposted 5 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 5 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 image80
          backporchstoriesposted 5 years agoin reply to this

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

  3. Tusitala Tom profile image65
    Tusitala Tomposted 5 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 image80
      backporchstoriesposted 5 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 image71
    recommend1posted 5 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 image80
      backporchstoriesposted 5 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 image71
        recommend1posted 5 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 image79
    mega1posted 5 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 image80
      backporchstoriesposted 5 years agoin reply to this

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

      1. backporchstories profile image80
        backporchstoriesposted 5 years agoin reply to this

        ....especially the ebb and flow image.