Soil erosion by wind may occur wherever dry, sandy or dusty surfaces, inadequately protected by vegetation, are exposed to strong winds. Erosion involves the picking up and blowing away of loose fine grained material within the soil. Damage from wind erosion is of numerous types. The dust storms resulting therefrom are very disagreeable and the land is robbed of its long-term productivity. Crop damage, particularly in the seedling stage, by blowing soil is often a major concern. Serious stand and subsequent yield and quality losses are incurred and, in the extreme, tender seedlings may be completely killed. Often, sufficient soil is removed to expose the plant roots or ungerminated seed, and this results in complete crop failure. Covering of established crops or pasturage by drifting soil is another common result. These are but a few of the more evident results of wind erosion. The most serious and significant by far, however, is the change in soil texture caused by wind erosion. Finer soil fractions (silt, clay, and organic matter) are removed and carried away by the wind, leaving the coarser fractions behind. This sorting action not only removes the most important material from the standpoint of productivity and water retention, but leaves a more sandy, and thus a more erodible, soil than the original.
Successive removals eventually create a soil condition wherein plant growth is minimized and erodibility greatly increased. Control becomes more and more difficult. In the extreme, the sands begin to drift and form unstable dunes which encroach on better surrounding lands. Throughout recorded history, huge agricultural areas have been ruined for further agricultural use in this manner. It is this degradation of soil resources that constitutes the most serious aspect of wind erosion. Areas so affected become totally unsuited for cultivation. Through difficult and expensive reclamation they may provide, at best, limited grazing. Uncontrolled, they become a menace to adjacent productive lands.