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Further back in 1944, Kansas farmers were asked to plant more soybeans for the war effort.

Jacky Goerzen

March 6, 2019

2 Min Read
a photo from 1964 that ran in Kansas Farmer. Kansas had the largest helium extraction plant in the world.
HELIUM EXTRACTION: This photo of the elaborate complex needed to extract helium from natural gas appeared in the April, 1964 edition of Kansas Farmer. At that time, 55 years ago, Kansas had the largest helium extraction plant in the world.

Among the vast natural resources of Kansas is a product extracted from natural gas by reducing the gas to 275 degrees F below zero.

Helium, used to lift blimps and fill toy balloons, had also been proven valuable for the emerging space age and in the production of nuclear energy. Back in April of 1964, a plant located 15 miles northeast of Liberal was the largest helium extraction plant in the world, processing about 850 million cubic feet of bas daily and extracting 1 billion cubic feet of helium annually.

75 years ago
Kansas farmers were given a specific message from the Kansas-USDA War Board in April of 1944: Plant more soybeans.

Initial planting intentions showed farmers planning to plant only 67% of the 1944 war goal of 350,000 acres.  Each farmer in eastern Kansas was being asked to increase their acreage if at all possible.

45 years ago
Alfalfa was a crop growing in popularity 45 years ago in 1974, but there was a growing issue with the alfalfa weevil, a pest that threatened to marginalize the crop.

Kansas State University Extension specialists were recommending careful monitoring and spraying for control, but farmers were running up against timing problems because the optimum time for spraying conflicted with the optimum time for planting corn and sorghum.

35 years ago
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was coming up with the first rules to try to protect groundwater supplies by classifying aquifers into three categories:

1. special ground waters that are vulnerable to contamination and are either considered irreplaceable or ecologically vital
2. current and potential sources of drinking water as well as waters of other beneficial uses
3. contaminated waters

Unique included groundwaters with particular value and included the Ogallala, which is the sole fresh water source for much of western Nebraska, Kansas and Texas. The Trump administration currently proposes to undo those rules.

20 years ago
Rural Kansas was caught up in an epidemic of methamphetamine production in 1999, with the theft of anhydrous ammonia from farm tanks being one of the most visible symptoms. Much of the problem was the simplicity of the formula: mixing up central nervous system stimulations from common ingredients including anhydrous ammonia, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine from cold medicines, lithium batteries, red phosphorus, lye, hydrocholoric acid, acetone, and other chemicals, all easily obtainable.

The risk of meth labs still exists today, and farmers are warned to approach suspect locations with caution and call law enforcement officials since even the leftovers of a meth lab can be dangerous.

Goerzen is executive director of Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita.

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