||Wind erosion is the removal of soil
from the land by wind. It includes the breaking away of soil
particles from the soil surface, movement downwind, and the soil
particles settling out when the wind slows. One of the tools
used by the WERU (Wind Erosion Research Unit) scientists is the wind
tunnel, a tube-like structure or passage in which wind is generated,
by a large fan and flows over the soil surface to
simulate wind in natural field conditions.
||WERU use various wind tunnels, both
indoors and outdoors, to simulate wind storms so they can study and
understand wind erosion on agricultural land. By using these wind
tunnels they can look at small wind storms under controlled
conditions. They can study why some soils blow more than others by
moving the portable wind tunnel from field to field. This way they can
better understand which soil types affect the amount of soil
that will leave a field during a wind storm.
|Through the use of wind tunnels,
scientists can study what farming practices will keep soils from
blowing. Again, by moving the wind tunnel from one part of a field
to another where there are different farming practices, scientists
can see which are better at reducing soil loss by wind. Some of the practices used by farmers to
control wind erosion include producing large clods which cannot be
blown away, keeping a live crop or crop residue on the field to
protect the soil from the wind, and planting wind barriers such as
||Scientists at WERU are also using wind
tunnels to learn ways to predict how much soil will be lost in
future storms. If we know how much can be lost under certain
conditions, we can develop ways to reduce the amount of soil loss.
Using data from wind tunnels, WERU scientists developed a computer
program called the Wind Erosion Prediction System which allows
scientists and farmers to predict future soil loss from wind
erosion and preventing disasters like the Dust
Bowl in the 1930's.
|Finally scientists are using wind
tunnels to study the effect of blowing dust on the health of plants,
animals and humans. Blowing soil can impact plants and damage them.
Fine soil can travel great distances and cause health problems to
those who breath the dust many miles away.
|Through the use of wind tunnels and
other tools, WERU scientists are learning about why and where wind
erosion occurs and how to control it. This research will help
farmers keep the soil on the field so that they can produce the food
the world needs, while at the same time protecting the environment
from damaging dust storms.
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