Anson County Home to Soil Conservation Landmark

On August 4, 1937, North Carolina Secretary of State Thad Eure issued a certificate setting up the Brown Creek Soil Conservation District, the first of its kind in the nation. That summer, farmers in Anson County voted overwhelmingly to formally establish a district of more than 120,000 acres, much of it badly eroded.

swdc logoIn every sense of the term, this was a grassroots effort. During the depths of the Depression, rural areas across the nation suffered profoundly from the effects of soil depletion. Sheet erosion was the primary problem and preservation of the topsoil was the key. Soil conservation brought the land back through techniques like terracing, planting of cover crops such as kudzu, strip cropping, contour plowing and crop rotation, among others.

The Brown Creek District, part of the drainage basin of the Pee Dee River, included the birthplace of Hugh H. Bennett, widely credited, most recently in a Ken Burns documentary, as the “father of soil conservation.”

Conservation districts were created throughout the United States, and Bennett and his team of specialists worked with the farmers in the districts for an effective program. Over the course of a 50-year career, Bennett advised on projects in Alaska, Brazil, Cuba and South Africa, among other places.

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