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The Soviet Dust Bowl and the Canadian Erosion Experience in the New Lands of Kazakhstan, 1950s-1960s

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In the 1950s and 1960s, the steppe regions of the USSR went through a period of destructive dust storms similar in causation and massive scale to the North American 'Dust Bowl' of the 1930s. Hence, in the mid-1960s, the 'New Land' programme that the post-Stalin leadership had launched in 1954 to solve the country's food problems virtually reached a point of failure. To overcome this environmental disaster, agronomists turned to the erosion experience of Canadian farmers. They lobbied the Soviet government to impose soil conservation measures similar to those employed in Canada's prairies and to produce farm equipment modeled on Canadian prototypes. New Land settlers succeeded in limiting deflation and resuming farming, but at the price of entering a race with the soil's decreasing ability to support them that would soon spark new ecological difficulties.
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Keywords: Canada; Dust Bowl; Kazakhstan; Lysenko; Stalin; USSR; deflation; dust storms; erosion; steppe farming

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2015

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  • The half-yearly journal Global Environment: A Journal of History and Natural and Social Sciences acts as a forum and echo chamber for ongoing studies on the environment and world history, with special focus on modern and contemporary topics. Our intent is to gather and stimulate scholarship that, despite a diversity of approaches and themes, shares an environmental perspective on world history in its various facets, including economic development, social relations, production government, and international relations.
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