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Kansas State Board of Agriculture
First Biennial Report


Niobrara — Soil




The soil overlying the Niobrara group being formed primarily by good proportions of chalk, clay and sand, and subsequently intermingled with organic matter, is rich and fertile. On the high prairie the loam is from one to three feet deep, while on the bottoms it is deeper, but inclined to be too sandy. The wild grasses, consisting of buffalo grasses and blue-joint, are admirably adapted to withstand drought, and make excellent food for cattle and sheep. As a home for stock-raisers, it has few equals.

An opinion is prevalent that the region covered by the Niobrara and Tertiary is largely supplied by alkali plains and alkali springs. This is a mistake. After more than ten years' acquaintance with it, I have not seen two acres together where the vegetation has been killed by it, or half a dozen springs so impregnated as to make the water unpalatable. The analyses of chalk, shales, and of soils, do not show more than the average of the alkaline bases.

The soil of this division consists of the fine, black loam, so common to the West. It is a good grazing country. The following analyses of soils, collected by S. W. Williston from the Smoky Hill Valley, were made by George E. Patrick, Professor of Chemistry in the University of Kansas. No. 1 is high-prairie loam; No. 2 is from "bottom" lands. Neither soil had ever been cultivated.

  No. 2. No. 1.
Water 1.895 3.449
Organic matter 3.039 5.224
Soluble in cold hydro-choloric acid: -    
Oxide of iron 1.503 1.778
Alumina .557 1.778
Lime 4.268 1.618
Magnesia .422 2.084
Potassa .214 .202
Soda .038 .002
Silicic acid .050 .023
Sulphuric acid .041 .078
Carbonic acid 3.510 .567
Phosphoric acid .173 .118
Sodium chloride .003 .007
Insoluble in cold hydro-chloric acid 84.287 82.129

  100.000 100.000