Графични страници
PDF файл

least fail to mention, the stress we lay upon the principles of stock-breeding and feeding the study of the different breeds, and the expense, labor, and pains involved in their illustration. Again, is it wise or practicable for the State to furnish a sheep for every student to mutilate in shearing for the sake of simply saying at an examination that he has shorn a sheep? He cannot have practice enough to be of any particular value. Some things in detail work cannot be taught to large classes successfully. Again, the teaching of students to sow grain by hand and to mow with a scythe are two kinds of labor upon which some of our theoretical friends lay great stress; forgetting that this is an age of mowing machines and drills they would teach the practices of 40 years ago. On the same principle, they would urge the use of the sickle and the cradle rather than the twine binder or harvester.

How much of the three months at our disposal for out-door instruction in our four years' course of study shall be devoted to teaching plowing, sowing, and cultivation; how much to care of stock; how much to draining; how much to sheep shearing; how much to milking; how much to the thousand and one details of farm work. When one looks over the work to be done and the time devoted to it, it is evident that so many details cannot possibly receive much, if any, practice. All, however, may have the opportunity of observing how all these details are performed at some time during the college course. Like many other questions, this is one much easier to dispose of with a flourish, in the aggregate, than by the process of analysis. Too many think of an agricultural college as a school where agriculture alone is taught, forgetful of the fact that the sciences, which are properly a part and parcel of agricultural education, have, and rightly too, a large part of the time devoted to the


The objection is made that the college graduates are not all of them farmers. I have endeavored to show you that young men do not attend the agricultural college for the sole purpose of learning practical agriculture. With the majority of students, whether right or wrong, this is a minor consideration. The student takes the college course to secure a scientific education in a general, rather than in a restricted, sense. He learns Chemistry, Botany, Mathematics, English Language and Literature, Entomology, Zoology, Logic, Political Economy; but in his four years' course he by no means comes to be a master in all or any of these any more than in practical agriculture. He has, if faithful in improving his opportunities, laid the foundation only, upon which he may, by continuous effort, achieve merited reputation in any of these sciences. But his judgment, opinions, theories, must be tested in the crucible of the world's activities. He must here gather the experience which comes from the struggle with the actual in life hand to hand, the wisdom which is the right use of knowledge. In this arena he must quit himself worthily if he would be crowned victor. We must not look for the ripe fruit of college training on graduation day. Is it not absurd, as it is too often done, to compare the young man's farming, just out of college, with that of the man who has been a farmer for long years? The comparison would be like pitting a graduate just out of a medical college with an old practitioner-like comparing a young man just admitted to the bar with a skilled lawyer who looks back over twenty-five years of successful practice. The fact is, practical work, its results and value, are judged by one standard, and work in the sciences by another, which is most certainly unjust. Can any good reason be given for such discrimination?


To foster and encourage agriculture by the dissemination of facts and knowledge that apply to this industry; by the training of young men in the sciences and practice that relate to this calling. It will be too much to demand that all graduates shall be farmers. Not all the graduates from our law schools follow the law. The graduates of our medical schools do not all of them practice medicine, nor all theological students preach. So it is not necessary to round the argument that agricultural colleges are needed to demand that all graduates shall be farmers. It is not too much-nay, it is but right-in strict consonance with the avowed objects of such colleges, to demand that the influence, the atmosphere, so to speak, of agricultural college life shall tend in no uncertain, indefinite way in the direction of agriculture-to promote, exalt, and ennoble this great industry.



(Read at Flushing and Dowagiac.)

Strange as it may seem, there are two views on this question. The general impression is, that tiling does pay. Indeed, people sometimes have the impression so firmly fixed that tiling is certain to be profitable, that they neglect those precautions which are essential to the perfect working of the tile drains. It is said that nearly $6,000,000 was expended for tile during the year 1883; now it is an important question whether this was or was not, profitably invested. There is a little reason to doubt that a greater or less per cent, probably not less than ten per cent, was so laid as to be of no special benefit. That is, the tiles were so laid as to be partially or wholly inoperative.

The question is not whether it pays to so lay tile drains that they will not work efficiently, but whether the increased crops will warrant us in laying them at all.

The New York Tribune has recently advanced several arguments against the profitableness of drainage. The paper does not claim that drainage has not been profitable to the individual farmers in some cases, but claims that it has been generally overdone and is now doing more harm than good.

Mr. Henry Stewart claims "that by excessive drainage the water is carried off to the streams in a few hours after falling, that this water carries with it a vast quantity of soluble fertilizing material, chiefly nitrates and potash, which are exceedingly soluble. Then when a dry season sets in there is no moisture in the soil and the ground dries out and ruins the crop. This is the result of following English examples without considering how very much our climate differs from that of England." Mr. Stewart thinks" the drainage of swamps, sloughs and wet lands is necessary, no doubt, but it is quite unnecessary to drain any soil that can be broken up eighteen inches or two feet by a sub-soil plough; nor is it necessary to put a drain anywhere any deeper than to place it out of reach of the plow."

"Again," he says "one may easily have too much of a good thing, which drainage is in its place. With the loss of the forests and by drainage, the soil has been almost wholly deprived of its waters, and enormous floods and fresh

ets have swept the land and poured into the rivers and the ocean a vast quantity of fertile surface soil as well as elements of fertility, which have been dissolved by the drainage waters from the subsoil. Droughts of the worst kind have followed and it is now one of the most serious questions for farmers to consider what they are going to do about it. The loss of the forest and the loss of water from the soil by under drainage has resulted in floods which have swept the land and poured into the rivers and ocean vast quantities of fertile surface, and droughts of the worst kind have followed. It is noticed in the foregoing article that Mr. Stewart claims that:

First, Under drains carry off the soluble fertilizers.

Second, That they leave the land without moisture and hence in a condition. to be affected by a drouth.

Third, That shallow drainage is preferable to deep drainage.

Fourth, That the surface-wash is increased by under drainage.

Fifth, That drainage, together with the disappearance of forests, is the principal reason for excessive rains and drouths.

Before examining in detail the arguments advanced I will call your attentiou to another article in the New York Tribune of Dec. 24, by Col. T. D. Curtis, entitled "The Drawbacks of Drainage." This article is well written and I reproduce it entire. It is the fairest statement of the arguments against drainage that I have yet seen.

"Farmers in 1882 expended $5,500,000 for tile and dug nearly 53,000 miles of drains to put them in. Besides, thousands of miles were laid with stones. Tile-makers and theorists have created and fostered this craze, and if continued it will result in a perpetual water famine. Wholesale rules adopted without discrimination are a big curse in agriculture, and drainage is one of the most potent for mischief. It is true that in many cases drainage improves land and makes it more tillable, but not always more fertile, Oftentimes a wet lot, or a wet patch, will, on account of the wetness, produce more grass than any other portion of the farm, and by being let alone supplies some spring which is invaluable. The drain fever seizing the owner, the water is speedily carried off, the early and constant pasture spoiled, and the spring fed from it destroyed. Does this outlay pay? The same thoughtless improvement sends the melting snows and the spring rains, without hindrance, into the farm rivulet, where they quickly flow beyond reach to the distant river. The stores of water being gone early in the summer the rivulet dries, and the stream into which it flows gets wonderfully small and the mill stops, and on the river the boats ground.

"Ditches and drains are made to carry the water away and they do it. Ditches are the outlets, and the water will always flow away in them. To keep up a supply of moisture or of water there must be a holding back of the water. This is done in many ways, when the avenues of nature are undisturbed. On the surface it is kept in hollows or basins, where swamps and bog-holes are formed; in sloughs; in mucky land; underneath rocks; under the leaves and trees, where the sun does not cause it to evaporate.

"To prevent evaporation there must be coolness, and to make coolness there must be shade and humid surroundings. Under the surface it is held in pockets, in veins and subterranean places where it has washed out its own bed, and in the constant percolating and oozing out from swamps, wet places and other natural reservoirs on top of the earth. Where there is no drainage to carry the water away it fills all of these fountains for the drier portions of the sea

[ocr errors]

sons. Each rain adds to its supply. Before there was so much drainage water was furnished by wells of moderate depth, and springs were plenty. Now permanent springs are scarce, and the old wells get dry early in the season.

"To secure permanent water the wells must be sunk below the hardpan to the bed-rock, where the surplus water is stored, which has found its way there. in time of flood and very wet periods. There are two sets or strata of water supply; one near the surface and above hard pan and rock; the other below hard pan or in the fissures of the rocks, or on the surface of the bed-rock. The water finds its way to these deeper recesses through passages in the earth which it has worn, or by the upturning and breaking of the under strata. Drainage does not mellow the soil so much as it admits of better tillage and enables the farmer to put in his crop earlier than otherwise; because the water goes out sooner. While drainage makes smaller streams in summer it also makes floods in springtime, or when there are excessive raius. The water is emptied out speedily from the drains, and from the surface, and this makes a flood. Once gone, these waters do not return unless in the clouds. Showers are made less, as there is less local evaporation from the dried earth. These are the natural principles and rational geology of drainage and water supply. I will now illustrate and demonstrate by actual examples.

"The barnyard well at Kirby Homestead is located on a hill with a gradual descent in every direction. The well is fourteen feet deep, and for more than eighty years it supplied all the water required at the barns. A few years ago it began to fail, and at length furnished so little water that it was abandoned. The decline in the water supply occurred at the same time that ten acres of swampy woodland was cut off about quarter of a mile distant. A stream formerly ran from the woodland which was a purling brook nearly the whole season, but is now known only in memory. Three years ago a new well was sunk in the barnyard thirty-two feet, when a vein of gravel was struck in the midst of blue clay or hard pan. The water stored up in this vein deceived the well-digger, as he supposed it would furnish a bountiful supply. It did for a year, and then the contents of the vein or the store of water in it being exhausted, no more could be had than what percolated into it at its fountain, and this was a regular supply of about ten pailfuls in twenty-four hours.

"Last summer another well was dug 1,300 feet from the barns in a natural water basin, where there was always water on the surface. At twenty feet the rock was reached in the form of a shelf, extending half way across the well, and three and a half feet lower down the level bed-rock was reached. The water ran in freely on the top of the shelf and at the bottom, making a supply which in a short time filled the well, notwithstanding the large quantity pumped out. To have obtained the same supply of water at the barns the well must have been dug at least seventy feet. A windmill sends the water to the barns and also to the house. Again, a second thought no doubt, saved a spring on Kirby Homestead the past year. When ploughing on an upland field, where there was a depression of an acre or more right on top of the hill, it was wet and sticky, and an Irishman, with an eye to a job, urged that this muddy place should be drained. A bargain had almost been made when I thought of a convenient spring not far off which must get its supply of water from this basin, and the talk was cut short. The wet place will grow grass and feed a spring for the field.

"A near neighbor had a well at his house which had never failed. Thirty rods distant was, and always had been, a small pond, called 'Frog Lake.'

It was by the roadside and did not occupy more than one-fourth of an acre. In a dry time the water stood in this natural reservoir about a foot deep. It was fed by the rains and the soaking from two fields which descended to it. The enterprising owner put a drain into it and cut the clayey rim which confined the water, and it has been perfectly dry ever since and the neighbor's well also, when there is a drouth. The draining of a narrow and gently sloping hollow which extended around the dwelling and farm buildings of a friend, on two sides, made dry wells on that place. Last summer Mr. Isaac Groot, a Tribune subscriber, drained a boggy spot of about an acre in extent, where there was always water on the surface, and straightway his well, about twenty rods distant, and on higher ground, was so reduced in the water supply that he had to resort to other means to get water.

"The chief stream running through this town, used to furnish the motive power for a half dozen mills, and now only two remain and these can run only during the rush of water. One of our best farmers a few years ago was obliged to sink his well fifty feet deeper in order to get water. He had thoroughly underdrained his own farm, turning a stream of water on his neighbor and at the same time unwittingly cut off his own supply. The country is full of just such examples, and with more thought there would be less folly. The old natural mineral springs at Ballsten Spa, N. Y., with their natural outlets to the surface, were all destroyed years ago by attempting to improve their condition by curbing and other artificial means, and new ones had to be bored for. Nature has provided watercourses and outlets, and the greed of men cannot trifle with them too far without damage to themselves." In this article is claimed that:

First, Permanent pastures and springs are destroyed by drainage.
Second, Wells are destroyed by drainage; several examples given.
Third, Water carried wholly off.

Fourth, Drouths and freshets are caused.

The two articles together form a strong arraignment against the profitableness of drainage. It is to be noticed, however, that neither article denies an immediate gain to the individual, but both claim a prospective general loss to the whole community.

Now, in regard to the charges that are made against drainage:
First, That they carry off the soluble fertilizers.

Laws and Gilbert, on the experimental farm at Rothamstead, have for a number of years been investigating such subjects. At this place, for a number of years, they have compared the composition of such rain-fall with the composition of the drainage water. The result does show (See lecture by Dr. Gilbert) an exceeding small amount of soluble fertilizers in the drainage water, but on the whole not so large an amount as what falls in the rain-fall. If the plat is heavily manured a little of the manure is drawn off by the drain. The result is, however, highly favorable to the under drain as compared with the natural surface drainage. Results kept by the Boston Water Commissioners for a number of years show that about 45 per cent of the whole rain-fall will pass into the streams and be available for use. Now, if the water to about one-half of the rain-fall will run off over the surface, the result will be to carry a less portion of the soluble manurial elements directly into the streams. If this water is allowed to pass through the soils and be filtered, a large portion of what would be wasted is retained by the soil. This statement, that underdrains, as compared with surface or open drains, carry off the soluble fertili

« ПредишнаНапред »