"From the air, the Midwest looks like a patchwork of cropland and pastures. But before the land was turned over to plows and center pivots, most of it was a sea of grass.
Native grasslands were first plowed by pioneers homesteading on the plains. More land was converted to crops as tractors and machinery arrived on the farm and conversion of land intensified.
Loss of grassland has been a challenge for many of the region’s native residents. Birds, insects and other wildlife that need a prairie ecosystem to survive have less room to roam. David Wedin, a professor at the University of Nebraska’s School of Natural Resources, says much of the area converted to cropland is marginal land, highly susceptible to erosion and the runoff of agricultural chemicals."