Joseph Hutton was a professor of Agronomy at South Dakota College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts from 1911 until his death in 1939. He became Professor of Agronomy in charge of Soil Investigations, which included conducting the first soil survey of South Dakota. Throughout his career, Hutton promoted soil and water stewardship. As early as 1911, Hutton began issuing warnings that the soil would not stand up to the abuse of intensive cultivation. Farming, he urged, “must be adapted to the soil and rainfall conditions for the area.” Hutton, an avid photographer, documented the damage caused by the dust storms of the 1930s in South Dakota. He took the photograph on September 19, 1935, and wrote this about the photograph:
"Serial No. 33-127:- SW corner of SW1/4 Sec. 30-112-63. Lenna M. Jefferson Farm. Wolsey Area, South Dakota. Sand "drowning out" and killing Russian Thistle which grew up after spring blow had covered that part of the farm to a depth of one or more feet deep. The sand came in from the barren blowing area to the south (Geister place) and is again burying the farm; this time to a depth of about 4 feet in this place. The bank has already advanced about 100 feet from the fence and when this picture was taken (windy day) it could be seen to be advancing rapidly. Farm building abandoned."