Southern Agriculture


The south's agriculture and economy began to drastically change after The Great Depression and World War II. A new era of agriculture began after the abolition of slavery when growing crops on plantations was the most widely used form of farming. Amoung the cotton areas this plantation system dominated all fields of southern life and supported a similar political system to the slave owners in the old south.
An average cotton plantation
An average cotton plantation
While this system was very efficent in farming, it only benefited the plantation owner at the expense of the sharecroppers and tenants. This system was but one of the many aspects of agriculture that occured in this time period in the south.
Other then the new agricultural crop systems the following major changes occured in the south during the 1930s:

Crops


After slavery was abolished, the government developed a new system in order to give freed slaves a job to recieve wages. This system was called sharecropping and it along with tenancy soon became a permanent way to deal with ex-slaves. Sharecroppers would be paid a wage so low that the family could just barely survive on it. This way, the sharecropper could never make enough money to leave the plantation since they were uneducated. Under these circumstances, although they were no longer slaves, they were forced to live like them under such harsh labor conditions.
Sharecroppers
Sharecroppers

Directly following World War II, the rural south benefited greatly from the high farm prices and the surplus of non-farming jobs. The war also brought a new era in farming productivity. The quality in crops improved, new and better variety in livestock was created with new, advanced genetics, mechanization of farm tools, and new efficent pesticides that could fertilize the land were used. The Agricultural Adjustment act reduced the production of crops and by doing so raised the farm prices. This caused farming to become more diverse and farmers began to receive benefit payments to lower their production of staple crops.
Over time the life of a farmer became easier especially when mechanization hit and industry boomed as the market was flooded with new inventions that made farming easier and more efficient.

Industry


During the time period of 1930's Charles Sherwood Noble created the noble cultivator as a solution to the agriculture during the time period of 1930's-1940's. A Noble Cultivator is a heavy steel sub-soil blade that cut weeds off at the roots without disturbing the surface of the ground. Now this was a help becasuse it made it more easy to destroy the weed without effecting the crops.
Harvesting grain crops
Harvesting grain crops

Lightweight Farm Tractors

By the late teens, MS&M Co. engineers realized the trend in tractor design was moving away from the massive behemoths that were their specialty, to smaller, cheaper, and more compact tractor designs. As a result, an entirely new line of lightweight tractors was engineered, supplemented by a new line of threshing machines and farm trucks. The new line of lightweight "Twin City" tractors were very well engineered, and as a testament to their quality they later served as the basis for the entire Minneapolis-Moline tractor line.

The Dust Bowl


Dust Storm Lamar Colorado
Dust Storm Lamar Colorado
Beginning in the early 1930s, during the Great Depression , the southern plains region suffered a period of drought, severe wind erosion, and economic depression. The area included parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. Poor farming techniques, planting of wheat and row crops, and raising cattle left the soil exposed to the danger of erosion by the winds that swept over the plains. The organic matter, clay, and silt in the soil were carried great distances by the winds, in some cases darkening the sky as far as the Atlantic coast, and sand and heavier materials drifted against houses, fences, and barns. In many places 8 to 10 cm (3 to 4 in) of topsoil were blown away. More and more dust storms had been occuring in the years. In 1932, 14 dust storms were recorded on the Plains. In 1933, there were 38 storms. By 1934, it was estimated that 100 million acres of farmland had lost all or most of the topsoil to the winds. By April 1935, there had been weeks of dust storms, but the final and most powerful dust storm happened, as known as Black Sunday . Winds were clocked at 60 mph. Many thousands of families, their farms ruined, migrated westward; about a third of the remaining families had to accept government relief. The government created Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and helped with the dust storms by paying farmers to use better farming techniques and reseeding parts of the damaged plains. In 1941, rain poured down on the plains, dust storms stopped, crops thrived, economic success returned, and the Dust Bowl was over.
Chicken & dust storm Liberal KS
Chicken & dust storm Liberal KS







Sources:



www.agclassroom.org/gan/timeline/1930.htm
www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/ni/vol05/no12/birchman.htm
http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blfarm1.htm
www.usd.edu/anth/epa/dust.html
http://Southernhistory.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=8731&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0
http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/Cunfer.DustBowl
http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761572810/Dust_Bowl.html
http://www.livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe30s/water_02.html
http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/history/A0802770.html

Artwork sources


http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/history/carltodl/276/hist276.htm
http://www.old-picture.com/united-states-1930s-1940s/Negro-Sharecroppers.htm