Science: Victory Over the Desert

The world's deftest job of land reclamation was going great guns this week in southern Australia. Every fortnight, the Australian Mutual Provident (life insurance) Society plans to turn out a new, 1,000-acre farm. The land it uses is part of the "Ninety-Mile Desert" southeast of Adelaide, covered until recently only with sparse, unhealthy scrub.

The Ninety-Mile Desert was a painful puzzle to Australia's early settlers. Its rainfall was 20 inches a year, which is good enough for dry Australia, and plenty for many crops. But somehow, nothing desirable grew there. Even sheep did not thrive: they got strange diseases, and their wool...

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