« ПредишнаНапред »
but always sufficient for its needs? I think not. Faith in the State has kept me from accepting a presidency of a similar college in the east, and from allowing my name to go before western boards, at their own solicitation. Other members of our Faculty have been influenced by a like faith, a faith which has never betrayed us. In 1862 Abraham Lincoln signed a bill giving to Michigan lands, for the endowment of such a college. The interest from the fund created by the partial sale of these lands was in 1870, less than $3,000. Last year (1884) it amounted to over $27,000.
Lastly, in 1876 these Farmers' Institutes were inaugurated, by which the officers of the college bring back to college labor the knowledge, and encouragement, and cheer which a visit amongst sympathizing farmers never fails to impart.
PRACTICAL AGRICULTURE AT AGRICULTURAL COLLEGES.
BY PROF. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
(Read at the Institutes held at Flushing, Albion, Paw Paw, and Manchester.)
In the inception and establishment of Agricultural Colleges instruction in the best methods of practical agriculture was urged as a most important consideration. It was a sort of central idea or foundation upon which to build; or at least to group the reasons for the existence of such special institutions. Nevertheless it remains true that there has been and is still a great diversity of opinion as to the scope and management of manual labor as a necessary adjunct to this instruction. Questions are constantly arising: As to the amount of time students may profitably give to this labor; the amount and quality of instruction they shall receive; the supervision of this labor; shall it be paid labor, or educational, or a combination of these; is it the legitimate work of the Agricultural College to train and graduate young men who shall take the combined theory and practice gained in a college course and so intelligently apply it in agricultural work as to advance and elevate this most important industry in the commonwealth; or is it the province of these colleges to turn out scientists-men who shall be fitted for scientific research and experiment, rather than the practice of agriculture? For years this discussion has gone on, and yet it is safe to assert that to-day no two Agricultural Colleges in this country hold to precisely the same views on these questions. One class advocates the college as a scientific school where those sciences that most directly relate to agriculture shall receive especial attention. If practical work is done at all it should be confined to experimental research, and compulsory paid manual labor is looked upon as disadvantageous both to the college and to students. I use the language of one of these advocates in a recent address: "Manual labor and a paying farm tend to place an agricultural college on the level of the farmer's thought, but what is an actual fact, far below the level of the thought of the influential and active community who govern and give form to our prosperity and progress. Enforced manual labor is not necessary to the college farm, but rather a detriment if paid for at the regular rates of labor, as securing unskilled men in preference to the skilled; it is detrimental to the college by giving a lower tone. It should, therefore, as offering no
compensating advantages, be sacrificed to the educated sentiment of the community, which forms the standards for our judgment." Another view, and I think a more correct one, one that the public sentiment, which must support and patronize such colleges, will approve, is that Agricultural Colleges must combine theory and practice, study and labor; these must go hand in hand through the entire course, or else while they may turn out good theorists at the end of four years, graduates will not be fitted for the practical work of the farm or, indeed, for practical work anywhere.
The object of these colleges is distinctly stated in the act of Congress approved on the 2d of July, 1862, donating to each State public lands to the amount of 30,000 acres for each of its Senators and Representatives in Congress, according to the census of 1860, for the endowment, support and maintnence of at least one college, where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts."
Our State constitution twelve years before provided that the Legislature shall encourage the promotion of intellectual, scientific and agricultural improvement; and shall as soon as practicable, provide for the establishment of an agricultural school. It may safely be asserted that those most instrumental in securing this legislation, who advocated and urged these colleges for the farmer, were very emphatic in their views of the value of the practical work of the course. It was made the prominent idea, for it was urged with much force, that the scientific instruction could be given as well at the university; but the friends of the college urged the necessity of a separate school, with one course of study for all-an agricultural course and where daily manual labor should be required of all students.
It is probably true that these early advocates of agricultural schools did not fully measure the difficulties which must inevitably attend the uniting of class work and manual labor in the college course and perhaps they gave the practice an undue prominence. Intelligent farmers had come to feel that their occupation was occupying a lower plane than many other callings and in the effort to overcome this disparagement, they wisely recognized that mental development, special education for their calling was essential. Indeed that in no other way could the mists of prejudice be cleared up, and agriculture elevated to its proper position, so that the tiller of the soil, as in the palmy days of Ancient Rome, might be thought worthy of the highest gifts and honors of the State.
It is my purpose to speak of the methods and facilities for teaching practical agriculture in these colleges, more particularly our own. I shall try to speak candidly of the difficulties, the defects as well as the benefits of the system. My object is two-fold: 1st, to give you some information on a topic which does not seem to be well understood, and which I think is often misrepresented, and 2d, to secure in the discussion and questions, which I hope will follow this paper, the views of many farmers and others interested in this subject.
I am inclined to think that one reason why agricultural colleges have not been more popular may be seen in the fact that there has been too great a distance-a gulf which neither party cared to pass, between the professionals and the farmers. A gulf we hope which has been spanned by the mutual regard which a better acquaintance has inspired.
PRACTICAL AGRICULTURE IN CLASS ROOM.
We have at our own college during the four-years course, three terms' instruction in practical agriculture in the class room. The second term of the freshman year the subjects of drainage and the characteristics of different breeds of animals and their adaptation to particular purposes receives attention. What lands need draining, how to lay out a system of drains, care of outlets, rain and evaporation, tile drains, fall necessary, cost of drainage, draining implements, how drainage affects the soil, promotes absorption of fertilizing substances from the air, warms the soil, improves quality of crops, prevents injury by drought. These will indicate the scope of the topics
treated in familiar lectures for three weeks of the term. The various breeds of our domestic animals next receive attention. A brief history of each breed, their distinguishing characteristics and adaptation, the scale of points used in judging each breed, the herd books and pedigrees of each receive attention, and this is supplemented by reference to drawings from life in the class room and the inspection and judging in the barns and yards of good specimens of these breeds, which the college owns for the purpose of illustration. Much stress is laid upon this part of the course, for in these days no subject is more important to the farmer and the general agricultural public than stockhusbandry.
The first and third terms of the sophomore year practical agriculture is taught on alternate days. The first term we complete the study of the different breeds of animals and take up the History of Agriculture. The second term is devoted to the subject of the feeding of animals-best methods of combining and adapting foods to secure most profitable returns.
The last term of the senior year the studies are elective. The agriculture of this term treats of the principles of stock breeding, rotation of crops, mixed husbandry, how to save and apply manures, farm economy, planning and construction of farm buildings, care of farm premises, farm implements, cultivation of farm crops, selling of farm products, farm law and literature.
You will see that these topics cover a wide field and it is not to be expected that they can be discussed in the most thorough manner in the brief time given to them. We endeavor to present the methods and ideas of our most intelligent and successful agriculturists as well as the views of those who are considered as authority in scientific agriculture in a plain and simple way, so that at least students shall, with proper application, get clear and definite notions of the principles and methods of this great industry.
There is no text book on agriculture that seems adapted to class room instruction and so we are necessitated to teach by means of lectures-the students taking notes and reviewing the work of each preceding day.
MANUAL LABOR, THE LAW OF MICHIGAN.
Section 18 of chapter 34 of the compiled laws of Michigan provides that three hours of each day shall be devoted by every student of the Agricultural College to labor upon the farm, and no person shall be exempt except from physical disability. By a vote of the Board of Agriculture at such seasons and in such exigencies as demand it, the hours of labor may be increased to four hours or diminished to two and one-half hours.
You will see that this student labor is not left to the discretion or wisdom of the Faculty of the college or the Board of Agriculture. It is made compul
sory upon every student in attendance, if not disabled, by the law of the State. It is hardly to be supposed that the founders of this college took into the account the difficulty of providing labor for so large a number of students, when the farm had been cleared and improved and while it might be an injustice to the spirit of the law to interpret it literally in the changed conditions of the present, there can I think be no question of their desire and purpose to make manual labor prominent—an essential in an agricultural course.
Our facilities for manual labor embrace a farm of 676 acres. About 100 acres of this is in charge of the horticultural department and affords work for students in caring for grounds, vegetable garden, orchards, etc. Of the remaining 576 acres about 300 are cleared, the balance in timber. Of the 300 about 200 acres have been plowed and some 100 are in woodland pasture. The land was heavily timbered, the soil sandy, and clay loam-30me heavy clay. A large part of it had to be drained and there are a good many miles of tile drain on the farm. Some three miles were laid the past summer.
The farm is laid off into convenient fields and accessible to the barns from a lane passing through from north to south. The buildings embrace cattle barn, in largest dimensions 65 by 134 feet, with basement stables, granary, and room for feed mills; horse-barn, 36 by 100 feet, containing farm office and tool-room besides the stables; a new grain barn 45 by 80 feet, with stone basement, containing a silo and stalls for feeding cattle; sheep-barn, 38 by 90 feet; tool-house, 40 by 90 feet; piggery, 34 by 80 feet, having sheds and yards attached; and an experimental feeding barn 31 by 48 feet, and a corn-house. While these buildings are good and substantial and answer the purposes for which they were designed, it should be said that they have been erected as needed and in accordance with means furnished; they might have been planned to make work more economical and perhaps a more pleasing arrangement, if the means had been furnished to plan and erect them at one time.
We aim to have the best of improved implements, and to keep them in good repair. The students' tool-room is well supplied with hand implements for students' use.
Of stock, we have some 90 head of cattle, the intention being to keep a herd of Shorthorns and specimens of the leading breeds. We have at present good specimens of the Shorthorn, Hereford, Ayrshire, Jersey, Holstein, and Galloway cattle; Southdown and Merino sheep; Essex, Berkshire, and PolandChina swine. We have not yet been able to do much in the way of well-bred horses on account of the lack of means to purchase, but the State Board of Agriculture have planned for improvement in this direction at an early date. So much for the facilities or furnishings of the farm, which do not vary much from those that may be found on many well appointed farms in our State.
HOW AND WHEN DO STUDENTS ENGAGE IN MANUAL LABOR.
The students, after the assignment of a certain number to special duties, are divided between the farm and horticultural departments, the sophomores working the entire year on the farm, while the juniors work the entire year in the horticultural department. The freshmen and seniors are divided between the two departments. By our rules of labor students are required to report at 15 minutes to 1 o'clock for work five days in a week, the work having all been planned by the superintendent or foreman before hand, and each student having been assigned to some particular task. As they report they are told what to do, what tools to take, and who will have charge of the work. To illus
trate: Brown is told to take a spade and work in No. 12 ditch; Jones, you will please take an ax and underbrush in No. 16; Mr. Wells may help the herdsman in cattle-barn, and so on, drawing manure, cleaning stables, care of stock, planting, cultivation, haying, harvesting; everything in the line of farm operations is carried on at the proper season. So in gangs, large or small, as the work demands, they march off in work clothes, when the one o'clock bell strikes, under the charge of some foreman or senior student. They work until four, when the bell strikes and student labor stops. They return their tools to the proper place, and if clean and uninjured they are checked off the students' tool-book, where they were charged when taken out. Here, as everywhere, the lesson of order is enforced. "A place for everything and everything in its place," is our motto. We try hard and succeed fairly well in living up to the motto. Not always just as we desire.
PAY FOR THIS WORK.
Each student is credited on the books of the department daily for the number of hours he has labored, and is furnished with a blank work-bil upon which he enters the date, number of hours, place, and kind of labor performed each day. At the close of each month this work-bill is returned to the farm office, compared with the books and filed in the office. In case of any discrepancy, it is returned for correction. The maximum price paid for labor is eight cents per hour, with the exception of seniors, who act as overseers of gangs, who receive twelve and one-half cents. This maximum price is subject to reduction, if the student is negligent or shiftless in his work.
Orders are issued at the close of the term for the amount due each student, and the student receives the money upon presentation of the order to the Secretary of the college.
The student then may have three hours of each day during his stay at our college to devote to the learning of agricultural and horticultural methods as practiced there. But what is the practice some one may ask. Is it of that fanciful, extravagant kind which will be likely to mislead the learner when he comes to wrestle with the profit and loss of farming on his own land? Are the methods practical? Will they bear inspection and compare favorably with the best practice of our most intelligent and skillful farmers? What is the true ideal you may ask. I should reply, good farming, good buildings, good implements, good stock, and good crops-teaching farming, practical agriculture by good farming, a systematic arrangement for all, order everywhere, enforcing precept by the emphasis of example. We shall not say of this ideal, -it is high, we cannot attain to it; but holding fast that which is good, we deem it a duty to weed out the defects, to strengthen the weak places, and to strive vigorously for the realization of this ideal. Let me remind you, however, that this system of combining labor with education will not, cannot in the very nature of the case return a pecuniary profit. Its value must be found in the better education we give young men, in keeping them in sympathy with labor, in furnishing them to become intelligent and skillful agriculturists. While this is true, I believe that the value of the education we aim to give will be greatly enhanced by a rightly economical administration of all of the departments.
But are the results, the benefits accruing to the student from this system of manual labor at all commensurate with the outlay? Is it desirable at an agricultural school? Do students actually learn the methods and details of farm