"Conquest of the Land through 7,000 Years" is Dr. Lowdermilk's personal report of a study he
made in 1938 and 1939. Despite changes in names of countries, in political boundaries, and in
conservation technology, the bulletin still has significance for all peoples concerned with
maintaining and improving farm production.
Dr. Lowdermilk studied the record of agriculture in countries where the land had been under
cultivation for hundreds, even thousands, of years. His immediate mission was to find out if the
experience of these older civilizations could help in solving the serious soil erosion and land use
problems in the United States, then struggling with repair of the Dust Bowl and the Sullied South.
He discovered that soil erosion, deforestation, overgrazing, neglect, and conflicts between
cultivators and herdsman have helped topple empires and wipe out entire civilizations. At the
same time, he learned that careful stewardship of the earth's resources, through terracing, crop
rotation, and other soil conservation measures, has enabled other societies to flourish for
The Natural Resources Conservation Service has reprinted this bulletin without change to meet
the continuing demand from teachers, clergymen, writers, college professors, garden clubs,
environmental groups, and service organizations for copies of the report as originally written by
CONQUEST OF THE LAND
THROUGH SEVEN THOUSAND YEARS
BY W. C. LOWDERMILK, formerly Assistant Chief, Soil Conservation Service
Sometime ago I heard of an old man down on a hill farm in the South, who sat on his front porch
as a newcomer to the neighborhood passed by. The newcomer to make talk said, "Mister, how
does the land lie around here?" The old man replied, "Well—I don't know about the land a-lying;
it's these real estate people that do the lying."
In a very real sense the land does not lie; it bears a record of what men write on it. In a larger
sense a nation writes its record on the land, and a civilization writes its record on the l