I went looking for the main reasons the dirt blew across the plains states during the 1931 to 1939 drought.
The Homestead Act of the late 1800s allowed farms to be too small. What that did was make the fields become over used and over grazed by animals. That was later corrected.
World War One had farmers in the plains states producing a lot more wheat. This left a lot less grasslands to keep the soil moist and in place.
Machines came along and in the 1920s, this caused a lot of fields to be smoother instead of left with dirt and grass clumps. it was easier to plow and so more land could be cultivated for crops.
Ranches also played their part. Huge amounts of land were grazed by cattle and sheep. This leveled the grasses and left the soil vulnerable to winds and drought.
The farming practices used in the 1920s were designed for humid areas with more rain and not for the plains states.
The 1920’s was called the Roaring Twenties because money was to be had and machines advanced to do jobs more quickly.
Contour plowing is also blamed for causing soil to fly. This was a way of plowing on slopes and the rows of plowed dirt flowed along the curves of the land. It was supposed to plow deeply and prevent rains from carrying the soil downhill.
There have always been periodic droughts in the plains states. The winds blew across the land at a fierce rate. I’ll do the information about the winds in the plains states when I do the Dust Bowl post.
I have pictures about the fields. They are from Wikipedia Commons.
Here are two maps.
This picture is of a Kansas winter wheat field awaiting harvest by, Billy Hathorn. It is from 1972 and shows how a wheat field usually looks.
This is a tractor at work in an Iowa field, 2009 by, Sarn Beebe.
Haskell county Iowa, Kansas, plowing with the one way disc plow, said to have caused trouble by smoothing the dirt. Smooth dirt would be picked up the winds very easily. Picture taken by, Irving Rusinow, Nation Archives and Records Administration, US.
This is in Haskell County Kansas, cattle grazing in a wheat field by, Irving Rusinow, NARA.