Harvested grain is effectively stored in rooms left 15 to 65 meters underground mined out in the production of limestone for aggregate. The rock production subsidizes the cost of excavation and the use of these rooms for storage becomes a dual economic gain. Dry, cold, and frozen sections for food storage are easily modified from the natural 140C of the rock space reducing energy consumption and maintaining quality of the stored product. Refrigerated rail cars and trucks unload, store, and redistribute foods in controlled underground climates. Allis Chalmers Corporation assembles farm combines in a huge underground site. The farm machinery produced in the subsurface serves not only the wheat regions of the U.S. but Canada and other export areas. International Harvester preserves its vital records in the security of an underground site. This paper will treat the developing relationship between the agricultural midwest and the subsurface of Kansas City, an agri-business center of the United States.
Relationships between areas which are complementary to each other, mutually serving each other's needs in supply and demand, form common patterns over the earth. These relationships are usually horizontal between commodities, markets, and services which are in close proximity. Agribusiness centers serve agricultural areas in their financial needs, flour mills grind the grains produced, and rivers, rails, and highways provide the movement of commodities, products, and services. Seldom is there a pattern of vertical proximity of any more consequence then a soils test or a water well. In Kansas City, however, the relationship between agribusiness sectors on the surface has been supplemented by a dimension of vertical proximity in the use of underground space in a variety of ways.
Storage geography in its study of where storage sites are located and mapping these surface locations in their spatial interaction has a new challenge. It must now treat the vertical relationship between what occurs on the surface and its complementarity with what occurs on another plane below the surface. The importance of storage as an intervening phase between production and consumption cannot be ignored. Storage, or the preservation of goods, is a major economic activity; but more than that, it is a leveller between periods of harvest and demand. In climates where harvests peak at certain periods of the year, glut and waste can easily occur interspersed with off-season periods of want or need. Storage, achieved at economically feasible costs, helps alleviate this irregularity. Where storage can be achieved in a stable subsurface facility the surface is retained for other productive use. A region which is noted for its agricultural productivity on the surface, coupled with storage capacity in its subsurface, has an ideal territorial advantage because of the complementarity between its two vertical components. Its surface and subsurface have compatibility of uses enhancing each other and the region as a whole.
Low cost of underground space has enabled the warehousing capability of Kansas City to expand into its role of national leadership. The low cost is initially achieved in that the rooms left in the rock after the removal of limestone are a remnant from the mining venture (Fig. 1).