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Ecological Frontiers on the Grasslands of Kansas: Changes in Farm Scale and Crop Diversity

  • Kenneth M. Sylvester (a1)
Abstract

Farms stood at an ecological frontier in the 1930s. With new and better agricultural machinery, more farms than ever before made the leap to thousand acre enterprises. But did they abandon mixed husbandry in the process? This article explores the origins of the modern relationship between scale and diversity using a new sample of Kansas farms. In 25 townships across the state, between 1875 and 1940, the evidence demonstrates that relatively few plains farms were agents of early monoculture. Rather than a process driven by single-crop farming, settlement was shaped by farms that grew more diverse with each generation.

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