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We shall also receive reports from a number of Cotton-belt Observers in North Carolina and the adjacent States. These observers make special observations during the growing season of the cotton crop.
The regular observations of this Service begin January 1st, 1887. With the stations already established and equipped, we will have 41 observers reporting to us in January next. The meteorological reports from all the stations comprising the North Carolina Weather Service and these corresponding stations will be consolidated and published in the BULLETIN of the Department of Agriculture, or a special paper.
As the Experiment Station has become for the first time, during the year 1886, something like the complete institution contemplated by the law establishing it, it will be in place here to notice briefly its facilities for work.
The accompanying cut shows the ground plan of the main floor of the offices and laboratory of the Experiment Station in the Agricultural Department building, on the N. W. corner of Halifax and Edenton streets, Raleigh.
The Station has, as will be seen, ten rooms, with furnace-room and store-rooms in the cellar underneath.
The working desks of oiled red-oak are on the most approved plan, and each one is supplied with water,
water, gas, steam exhaust-air for the filters, and compressed air for the
AGRICULTURE blast-lamps. The laboratory contains the usual fixed
apparatus, such as steam-baths, drying chambers, hoods, distilled water apparatus and hot water apparatus. One boiler pumps our water and supplies steam for drying chambers, distilling, heating water, &c. There are a crucible and muffle furnace, .
, and gas combustion and blast furnaces. The laboratory is also supplied with a complete equipment of apparatus, such as: three of Becker's balances, a spectroscope, polariscope, microscope, Sprengel's pumps, a full set of volumetric apparatus, &c.
The Station has a small library, containing some of the leading German, French, English and American agricultural and chemical reports and journals, a collection of all kinds of materials and chemicals used in artificial manures, and small collections of minerals and seeds.
THE EXPERIMENT FARM.
PRELIMINARY WORK AND BUILDINGS.
The Experiment Farm is situated 11 miles west of Raleigh, on the Hillsboro road, adjoining the State Agricultural Society's Fair-gounds, and comprises ten acres. The Agricultural Society gives, in addition, the use, free of charge, of about twenty acres of their land. On the 1st of April, 1886, when we took charge of the Farm, a greater part of the land was covered with a dense growth of scrub oak and blackjack, with, in one place, some dwarf pines. It was said the land had not been under cultivation for from fifteen to eighteen years. The front of the land facing the Hillsboro road was very much cut up hy wagon tracks, which had washed out a foot or more at places.
From this road the land rises gradually at an angle of about two degrees towards the north. About four hundred feet distant, where the buildings have been erected, is the most elevated part of the Farm. Back of the buildings the land slopes down at a much greater angle, and the surface is badly washed in two places. By the kindness of the authorities of the Penitentiary, especially of Capt. Stamps, the President of the Board, and of Col. Hicks, the Warden, we were given the use of a large force of convicts about the second week in April. We were enabled by their help to clear the land of trees and roots, grade the front facing the Hillsboro road, and put in post-holes for the very substantial fence which has since been put up. Some idea can be obtained of the labor involved in clearing this small tract of land from the fact that we are charged in Col. Hicks' report with twelve hundred and seventy-five days' work of the convicts. This, however, includes some work on the excavations for the buildings, which was done later. It will be remembered that in April, and part of May, the season was extremely cold and wet. This delayed us greatly. Much of the time it was too wet even to move the trees and stumps, to say notbing of plowing the land. These, and many other causes combined, delayed is to a very serious extent in our work.
*Milton Wbitney, Superintendent of Farm,
No one who has not bad practical experience in the organization of such an institution and in planning and arranging such experimental work can conceive of the vast amount of labor and responsibility attending it.
Sir John Bennett Lawes, in a letter congratulating the Director upon starting this new work, suggests that we lay the land off in a hundred plots of one-tenth acre each, or such a number as, taking out the roads and walks between the plots, the space will allow, and putting the whole down in permanent experiments. The writer goes on to give more valuable advice, advising not to apply manure to any of the land for one or two years, but to plant one crop uniformly on the whole unmanured, that we may obtain an idea of the natural fertility of the land, and know what part of our future results are due to the differences in the soil, and what to the fertilizers we may add to the land. Theoretically, his plan of dividing the land up into certain plots and putting them in permanent experiments on questions of interest in this State, seems a simple, easy and valuable plan of action; but practically, ihe Farm land was in such a condition, the surface so undulating and having so many different exposures, with at least four or five different characters of soil and subsoil, that it has been much more serious and difficult to plan the experiments to insure the results being trustworthy and of value, than one could believe who is iacquainted with the requirements of the work.
We made at first a very careful examination of the soil and subsoil on different parts of the Farm. The land seemed naturally divided into certain distinct areas.
The front facing on the Hillsboro road, in which the roads, ruts and washes had been filled up and the whole graded for a distance of about seventy feet back from the road, was evidently not suited for comparative plot experiments with fertilizers.