Hole, Francis Doan, 1913-2002 / Soils of Wisconsin
Chapter 9 soil region C: soils of the central sandy uplands and plains, pp. 71-76
The central sandy area of Wisconsin has special charms and limitations. The charms have been well documented in Sand County Almanac by Leopold (1949), and are capitalized on by summer home developments around recently created artificial lakes. The limitations were experienced by early farm families who suffered severe crop losses in dry years. This region responds very quickly to seasonal changes. The well to excessively drained soils warm up earlier in the spring than do the finer textured soils that have been considered in the previous chapters on Soil Regions A and B. When the soils are still moist from snow melt and spring rains, vegetative growth is good. The lupine, the wild rose, and many other flowers make the landscape attractive. Farmers can cultivate early. The sandy soils are never sticky. Yet drought can strike the area CHAPTER 9 Soil Region C: Soils of the Central Sandy Uplands and Plains Figure 9-1. Index maps showing the geographic relationship of Soil Region C to bodies of Cambrian sandstone and glacial outwash. with a vengeance. Except where silt and clay beds underlie the sands, uplands tend to dry up early in the summer. The "scrub oak barrens," also called oak savannas (Curtis, 1959), are ex- tensive, though far less open today than they were before forest fire protection became systematic. The prickly pear cactus is a natural component of some plant communities. Wind erosion produced sand dunes in ages past and continues to do so today around some cultivated areas. The sand flats and the associated wetlands of the Central Plain constitute a "cold spot," with a shorter growing season than in the immediately surrounding terrain (Fig. 2-35). Yet with proper land management under irrigation, large acreages of these soils can support impressive crop yields. As a result, some agriculturalists apply the term golden sands to the soils of this region. 1. Curtis (1959, p. 327) states that "an oak savanna with an intact groundlayer is the rarest plant community in Wisconsin today." The sharptail grouse and other fauna are threatened by the gradual dis. appearance of the savanna in this region. The soils of the central sandy uplands and plains, occupying about two and a half million acres (7.1% of the area of the state), are nearly level to undulating for the most part (80% of the area). A number of butte-like sandstone mounds, such as Friendship Mound in Adams County, are prominent but iso- lated features of the landscape. On the east are uplands of sandy glacial end moraines, till-capped sandstone hills, and pitted outwash. These soil associations are distributed through- out more than a dozen counties and are largely on stratified Pleistocene deposits (Plate 4) in the Cambrian sandstone prov- ince of the state (Figs. 9-1, 9-2). Glacial drift including extensive outwash sand (about two thirds of the area) and less extensive, weakly calcareous, sandy glacial till constitutes the principal substratum of the region. Old, stabilized sand dunes are abundant in some townships. Major bodies of lacustrine silts and clays, laid down in extinct glacial Lake Wisconsin, are inclusions of Regions E and I. Also included are some extensive wetlands of Region J. The sandy 71
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