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Regionalizing Knowledge: The Ecological Approach of the USDA Office of Dryland Agriculture on the Great Plains

  • Jeremy VetterEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Archimedes book series (ARIM, volume 40)

Abstract

This chapter examines the environmental region as a middle level of knowledge production between local and universal, focusing on the US Department of Agriculture’s Office of Dryland Agriculture in the early twentieth century, under E. C. Chilcott. The office supported branch field stations dispersed across the Great Plains—a region experiencing a tremendous influx of farming immigrants during this period—and these stations undertook coordinated agronomic experiments and measurements of ecological variables throughout the region. Such a regionalized ecological approach to agricultural research was not only similar in many respects to research in the emerging field of ecology but also produced knowledge claims contrasting markedly with the contemporaneous “scientific soil culture” movement led by promoters such as Hardy Webster Campbell. At the same time, the practice of agricultural research involving systematic coordination of research design and uniform collection of ecological variables generated some tensions between federal and state scientists.

Keywords

Hardy Webster Campbell E. C. Chilcott Great Plains History of ecology Office of Dryland Agriculture US Department of Agriculture 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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