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Soil Conservation

Harvesting grain cropsSouthern Alberta’s Lethbridge area has long been notorious for particularly strong winds and, thus, it is not surprising that solutions for circumventing soil erosion were invented so early there.

Out of the problem of wind erosion, the Noble Blade Cultivator emerged. Although the strain of pioneer life drew the latent resourcefulness out of everyone, few individuals made such a significant contribution to agriculture as Charles Noble.

For Noble, his land was not simply the means by which he was able to sustain his life. He cared for its well-being deeply. His shock was immense when, in 1916, he noticed the appearance of soil drifting in the Lethbridge area.

He had first experienced wind erosion 10 years earlier while living in North Dakota. He, therefore, knew that if ignored for a time, it would render land much less productive. One of the first Canadians to search for a cure for soil drifting that would also be compatible with profitable production, Noble began work in earnest to prevent such a disaster.

Noble in stooked wheat fieldHe took to planting a variety of winter rye imported from Michigan. Sown in August, it had enough leaf coverage to protect the fields against the winds in both autumn and spring. Proving the idea worked to circumvent soil erosion, Noble sought to make the endeavor profitable. Since the wheat market was more reliable than rye, he switched and protected his land while making a profit on his winter crop. While this was sufficient to maintain the soil for a number of years, Noble persisted to seek a better solution.

By this time, other farmers in the community were interested in taking measures to prevent wind erosion and another method of dealing with wind erosion, strip farming, was gaining popularity. While strip farming was helpful, Charles Noble pursued an even better solution. In 1936, while visiting California, he created the Noble Blade cultivator that provided a new method of tillage, thus preserving the land from detrimental erosion.

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