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Prairie Grass Facts

Prairie Grass Facts

Prairie Grass Facts

The North American prairie is ideal for agriculture. In fact, of the 2 million acres of North American prairie, less than one percent is not used for agricultural development. The weather is moderate, and there are no trees to move to create large, open fields. The very small hills on the prairie are called pimples, and they usually don’t rise taller than 1.5 meters (4 feet). The prairie grasses hold the soil firmly in place, so soil erosion is minimal. Prairie grass roots are very good at reaching water very far down under the surface, and they can live for a very long time. Grains are a type of grass, so the prairie grassland is perfect for growing grain like wheat, rye, and oats.

Grass

By the middle of the twentieth century, nearly all of the North American prairie grasslands had been destroyed due to extensive farming. The result was miles and miles of soil with no strong prairie grass to hold it in place, and few trees to block the wind. When drought, a period of little rain, struck the prairie in the 1930s, high winds blew the dry soil into huge, frequent dust storms, devastating the Great Plains. The Great Plains were called the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression period. The tallgrass prairie survives in areas unsuited to plowing: the rocky hill country of the Flint Hills, which run north to south through east-central Kansas, the eastern fringe of the Red River Valley (Tallgrass Aspen Parkland) in Manitoba and Minnesota, the Coteau des Prairies which extends from South Dakota through Minnesota and into Iowa, and the far north portion of Oklahoma. In Oklahoma the tallgrass prairie was maintained by ranchers, who saw the hat-high grass as prime grazing area for cattle.

The original extent of Tallgrass Prairie in Canada was the 6,000 square kilometre plain in the Red River Valley, southwest of Winnipeg in Manitoba (see map). While most of Manitoba's tallgrass prairie has been destroyed through agricultural development, relatively small areas persist. One of the largest blocks of remaining tallgrass prairie in Manitoba is protected by several conservation partners in a conservation area called the Tallgrass Aspen Parkland. The Manitoba Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, in the Rural Municipality of Stuartburn, Manitoba, forms a part of the Tallgrass Aspen Parkland. This preserve protects contains about 4000 hectares (10,000 acres) of tallgrass prairie, aspen parkland and wetlands.As its name suggests, the most obvious features of the tallgrass prairie are tall grasses, such as indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), which average between 4.9 and 6.6 ft (1.5 and 2 m) tall, with occasional stalks as high as 8.2 to 9.8 ft (2.5 to 3 m). Prairies also include a large percentage of forbs, such as lead plant (Amorpha spp.), prairie rosinweed (Silphium spp.), gayfeathers (Liatris spp.), sunflowers (Helianthus spp.), asters (Aster and Symphyotrichum spp.), coneflowers (Echinacea spp., and Rudbeckia spp.), and many other species. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

 

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