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and cause them to act like leaven in a measure of meal? There are one hundred thousand barns in Massachusetts alone; and would it not be reasonable to suppose that ten dollars' worth more of manure could be made and preserved than now is in each, annually making a loss of one million of dollars a year? So far as my personal observations have gone, the figures are altogether too low; and I would add as much more in way of loss by the annual misapplication of these manures, besides the great want of knowledge in the natural compositions of our soils and their wants; and to illustrate this general want of knowledge, I would state one circumstance which occurred on my own farm:
In the fall of 1849 I had determined to underdrain a portion of land which had been in former times subdivided into lots, containing from one to three acres, by heavy walls, composed principally of small stones; and as a part of these lots were in cultivated fields, and the other parts in unsightly, bushy pasture land, I had determined to throw several of these lots into one, making one lot of 23 acres-this land being what we term high-hill land, being located within one half mile of the river, and still more than 500 feet above its banks, and is what is generally termed a loamy soil, with a stiff clay sub soil. My plan of operation was to dig a dike close along by the side of these squalid and ancient walls, which ditches swallowed up about one half of the wall, and the balance of these walls was taken to fill other interior ditches, which were cut 3 feet deep by 2} wide, one in every 5 rods, with cross ditches to carry the surplus water into the principal ditches. These ditches swallowed up all the stones of the old partition walis, as well as all the surplus stones on the surface of the land, and they were filled within 8 inches with stones, and carefully covered with much brush or leaves, and a sufficient quantity of the soil put back to come to a level; and the balance of earth from the ditches was used for grading any low spots that were to be found; and to show the trouble I got into by not employing a practical engineer to lay out my work, and from my own ignorance of the matter, I will state that this plot of land has a gradual, uniform descent of about two degrees to the north, until it strikes the road leading east and west, and which road about equally divides my farm. Below the road I have about the same kind of land as where I had been ditching above. In the spring of 1850 the water which accumulated in about 400 rods of these drains was emptied into the main drain, and then into one prepared at the side of the road for the purpose of being carried off through what I supposed to be a natural channel, and through land belonging to one of my best neighbors; but in this I was mistaken. In the first place, my ditch by the side of the road would not hold more than one-fourth of the water which was collected in the drains above; and the consequence was, that the road was badly washed, to the great injury of myself and the public, and my neighbor objected to its being turned on to his pasture in such unnatural quantities; and not wishing to injure the public, nor my neigh bor, what was to be done in this case no one could tell. For my own part I began to fear, and some of my friends were ready to join me, that I had commenced a rash undertaking without looking at the results; that water enough to drive a saw mill on high and apparently dry land was not so easily managed. In this dilemma I inquired of the president of our agricultural society what could be done, knowing that he had handled much water in the way of irrigation on
his river land, and he told me at once to turn the water across the road, and throw it over some mowing lots below the road, where the descent was more rapid-say 5 or 6 degrees. This was done, and to the utter surprise of every one, 7 loads of hay were cut in July, where 4 loads of like dimensions were the extent that was ever cut before. This was from the hay harvest of 1850; in that of 1851, the difference in favor of the crop of hay was still larger. I have 12 acres more, next adjoining this, and I propose irrigating these also. Is there not something strange in all this: that water can be taken from these drains, and, after running one hundred rods in an open ditch, then be used for irrigation on similar lands? It is passing strange to me, and yet I should be loth to part with this water for what my ditches cost, which were only intended for under draining above. Would not a thorough knowledge of irrigation and application of water to most of our lands pay many millions annually? Are not our thirsty American soils better adapted to irrigation than those of Europe? Their atmosphere is more moist than ours; but Europeans pay greater attention to this subject than we do. Indeed, in this country, not one in a thousand uses water even when it can be had from natural streams.
I will here state that, in opening or digging these drains, my attention was called to different materials which were thrown out; for instance, here was red clay, and there was a fine gritty sand, and all sorts of materials; and land of similar appearance on the surface. If a chemist could have been obtained, I should have had these soils taken to pieces, and there is no doubt in my mind but what the result would have been greatly in my favor for present and future operations; as it is, I am no better informed of the wants of these soils than before the land was broken. But one circumstance is certain, and that is, that my crops have been more than doubled on this under-drained land for the last year. And what has done it? Was it under-drainage? I, for one, will not undertake to decide this question, if it was. Millions of acres in New England stand as much in need as mine. Many experiments are quite too costly for individual enterprise; and they should be carried to perfection by our State and national governments upon experimental farms. And the same may be said of the great subject of cattle-breeding in this country. Individual breeders cannot succeed in this important science; first, because no man has ever began early enough, or lived long enough to perfect his plans. Individual American breeders we have, it is true, and men of the very first stamp, who have done and are doing much; but they labor under great disadvantages. Besides, we have but few men in this country who can afford to go further than what is for their individual interest, and they have no neighbors with whom to compare notes. Mr. A. goes for short-horns, and Mr. B. for the Devon, whilst Mr. C. is for the Ayrshire. Each one advances his own opinions and is generally in favor of his own particular shire. This branch of business should be carried out by our government also, and could and would be done on the experimental farm, and great and lasting good would be the result to this whole nation.
Hon. THOMAS EWBANK,
Commissioner of Patents.
Extract from an Address before the Agricultural Society of Essex county, Massachusetts, in 1851; delivered by MILTON P. BRAMAN.
1. The system of popular education should enlist our ardent sympathy and support. Three fourths of the people of the United States are said to be engaged in the labors of the field. These three fourths reside in the country, and are receiving their education principally from the common schools. A very small proportion extend it beyond the means which these seminaries afford for mental cultivation. So far as the influence of the school is concerned, they owe the direction and discipline of their minds, and the information with which they are stored, to these sources of instruction. They are three times of as much consequence to the farmer as to all the other classes of community, so far as relates to the numbers connected with them, besides the importance which they derive from the fact that such kind of education is for the most part acquired in them, without the additional aid of academic and other higher institutions. It is the concern, then, of every farmer, and of all others who feel interested in the improvement of this class of our citizens, as well as in the progress of the noble art to which they are devoted, to render these instruments of popular education as efficient and useful as possible.
Aside from any considerations connected with the advance of agriculture itself, to which the present remarks are particularly directed, it cannot be denied that those institutions, in which so large a part of the youthful portion of the community are receiving almost all the training which is acquired from professional teachers, deserve the highest attention and support. The common school is eminently the farmer's school; it is not only the primary school, but the academical institution, and the college in which he takes his degrees, and whose influence contributes so much to form character and fit well, or imperfectly, for exercising those rights of citizenship, which, always most important in any circumstances, assume a most transcendent and fearful consequence when we consider the preponderating numbers of the class with which he is associated.
But I have particularly in view the influence of education in fitting him for a more successful prosecution of his employment. There are some persons who think little of agricultural seminaries and scientific farming, but place great reliance on the observation and experience of practical men. From the value of the maxims of experience I would not detract a particle. But all must allow that the observations of some men are worth infinitely more than those of others, and that, if the agricultural interest is to depend chiefly on observation for its progress, we need wise observers. If we must place principal reliance on the opinions of practical men, we should have intelligent practitioners. Every agency which strengthens and expands the powers of the mind fits a person for a keener and wiser observation in any department of labor to which he has addicted himself; and, other things being equal, the best reader, grammarian, and arithmetician in the common school will be the most intelligent and successful cultivator of the ground. An inactive and torpid mind will make no observations, institute no comparisons, deduce
enjoy the advantages of such institutions, they can provide themselves accordingly. The additional profit which they would soon be the means of conferring on tillage would afford the amplest means to erect and sustain them in sufficient numbers to meet all the wants of the community. But it is not to be expected, for the present at least, that any more than a portion of the agriculturists will feel an inclination to participate in the superior benefits of such establishments. Nevertheless, the whole mass of the people will be as really profited by comparatively few schools as though they were multiplied to a sufficient number to include every individual within their limits. Every part of the country will be represented by those who resort to them; and when they have completed their course of preparation, and retire to their respective homes to enter upon the pursuits which they have chosen, they will exhibit an example of correct and successful tillage which will excite curiosity, attract imitation, and raise the standard of agriculture in all their vicinities. Their new methods of cultivation, their communications with those around them, will stimulate inquiry, gradually diffuse correct and useful ideas, and extend the influence of the school in every part of the community. It is probable, also, that a multitude of useful publications will issue from the pens of those who are devoted to teaching agricultural science, which, popular in their form, will have extensive circulation; and thus, in one form or another, there will emanate from these institutions an influence which shall penetrate among the masses, and beneficially reach thousands who have never placed themselves within the sphere of their immediate operation. They will be so many lights, which will shed their rays not only upon those who are brought into immediate contact, but diffuse their beams abroad, illuminating remote places, finding their way into obscure recesses, and, in a thousand forms of direct emanation, and reflection, and refraction, pouring out their splendor to the utmost limits of the horizon.
3. Another advantage is, that they will give new attraction to agriculture as an employment. I have alluded to a class of young men who seek what they think to be a more elevated pursuit than the tillage of the field. They have an ambition of rising in life, and they very naturally conclude that the further they get from the ground the higher they fly. Those who unite a thirst for knowledge with aspiring views, and some who do not, are inclined to betake themselves to the university; and the door which admits them within its walls shuts out the vulgar toils of the field forever. It is a common observation, that the dullest boy in the family is selected to follow the father's pursuits on the ancestral grounds; while the one which appears most vivacious and active is singled out for the college, or some more tasteful, supposed dignified, vocation. Now, let the road to the best-conducted agriculture be through a scientific institution; let classes of youth go out annually from the tuition of learned instructors, versed in those sciences which are connected with the culture of the earth; let them enter upon the business of farming as young men enter the professions after graduation at the college, and it would contribute much to raise agriculture to that position which it ought to hold among the other vocations of life; and many who are now a burden to the professions, and are wrecked in the fluctuations of merchandise and commerce, would be found pursuing a safe, happy, and useful course of life. President Hitchcock saw, in
some of the agricultural schools which he visited in Europe, young men from families distinguished by their opulence and position in life habited in frocks, and performing cheerfully some of the most coarse and uncleanly labors connected with the establishment. Perhaps these individuals were drawn thither by the dignified associations which, in their view, science and education had thrown around their employments, and, in other circumstances, would have disdained such menial offices, as they would deem them, and have crowded into more elevated and congenial pursuits. Another desirable effect would follow: When commercial men in our large cities have acquired opulent fortunes, and are possessed of taste and fondness for display, they seek often to gratify their inclinations in costly equipages, works of art, and magnificent architecture. There is no objection to such expenditure when properly directed and bounded by reasonable limits. When men of great means divert a portion of their resources to the patronage of the arts, of statuary, and painting, and other products of genius and taste, they are devoting wealth to some of its noblest uses; they are counteracting the tendency which a close application to commercial occupations has to foster contracted and sordid propensities; they are imparting refinement and elevation to their own feelings, and contributing to diffuse, through a community sufficiently devoted to the love of gain, a healthful and liberalizing influence. But the taste for fine arts and magnificent display may become excessive and misdirected.
If some men of wealth, who now expend a hundred thousand dollars on the erection and fitting-up of a dwelling, would limit the outlay to fifty thousand, and reserve the remaining half to purchase some unproductive and waste land, whose tillage is too difficult and costly for persons of small means to undertake, on which to gratify their taste, and cover it with the beauty of a luxuriant and ornamental vegetation, they would contribute to the promotion of agricultural improvement, and at the same time indulge a taste as much nobler than that which they gratify now as the beauties of Nature transcend those of human device. Why is not a fine landscape as worthy an object of admiration as the painting which exhibits its imitation to the eye?-and why has not the Divine skill, which exhibits its wonders in the exquisite structure of plants, and the ornaments with which it gilds the flowers of the field, and the rich forms and foliage with which it invests the trees, as high claims to the homage of taste, and the expenditure of resources, as the art which hews the rock into the resemblance of the human form, but can confer no life to utter its expression through the rigid features? To a person whose susceptibilities of gratification are directed by right principles, the process by which a sterile and uninviting surface is converted. into a rich and waving field, which causes the wilderness to blossom, and turns the foul morass into a smooth and verdant lawn, conveys as much pleasure as that which causes palaces to spring out of the rough stones of the quarry. There are those whose well-directed sentiments lead them in this direction; and the land which they have subdued to tillage, and adorned with loveliness, whilst it has been a noble monument to their taste and magnificence, has excited emulation, diffused more correct and useful ideas, and has been a subject of study and improvement to surrounding admirers. Some opulent men, of extensive information and liberal views, have, by their intelligent and advanced