Keith Kridler, Texas

railroads and Kudzu

February 18, 2009

Categories: Growing Daffodils, Planting, Soil, Weed Control

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Railroads use tanker trucks of broadleaf weed killers and hook them up in place of the old cabooses at the back of the trains. They spray the weeds and brush and kudzu keeping it off of the tracks. It seems like a stupid idea now but in the early 1900’s the AVERAGE river in Mississippi and Alabama were flowing with 36% sand, silt and gravel or basically rivers of mud. All that was eroding from the farm lands due to poor farming practices.
The old soil conservation books from the 1930’s show gullies in the gently sloping farm fields across the south 15<30 feet deep. You cut down the eastern forests, farmed a few years and then moved on to new lands.
The government promoted planting Bermuda Grass from East Africa and kudzu on these washed out farms and road embankments in an attempt to save roads and railroads from being washed away.
There are patches of Kudzu a couple of miles from my house here in East Texas. Keith Kridler

One response to “railroads and Kudzu”

  1. Chriss Rainey says:

    I have only about three chapters left to read in an extraordinary book titled, The Worst Hard Time.  It is about the circumstances and decisions that created the worst  environmental disaster in this country.  World politics and economics drove the decisions that  were responsible for the eventual dust bowl that resulted in the center of our country, when at the same time an extended period of unrelenting drought occurred.  The plowing up of ancient grassland allowed more dirt blowing away than was dug out to create the Panama Canal.  And it didn’t just blow around in Kansas and the Texas panhandle,  it blew over Chicago and Washington, D.C. and New York City and out to sea in the Atlantic and was observed by ships at sea as a huge copper colored storm of blowing dust on several occasions.  Sometimes the wind blew 40 miles an hour for over 100 hours. 
    I’d say if kudzu was thought to be part of the cure for this, then just maybe the cure was as bad as the disease.  It is an environmental disaster in its own right.