« PreviousContinue »
island, is due to an excess of carbonate of lime in the soil was completed during the year. This work furnishes a valuable basis for the selection of soils for pineapples.
THE GUAM STATION. Although much of the work done at the Guam Station during the year was of a preliminary character, such as the construction of new buildings, building of roads, clearing and draining of lands, etc., various field operations were also successfully carried on. The leading work of this station continues to be the production of feed and forage preliminary to experiments on the improvement of the live stock of the island and includes experiments with corn, various grasses, and leguminous forage plants. The experiments have demonstrated the superior value of Para grass, Paspalum dilatatum, Guinea grass, and several nonsaccharin sorghums as forage plants. Of the leguminous plants under observation, the pigeon pea, jack bean, and common peanut have given promise of success. Much work was carried on with vegetables, in many cases with very promising results. One of the most striking achievements of this station is the introduction of the Smooth Cayenne pineapple from Hawaii. Various other fruits besides a number of miscellaneous plants have been introduced and are being tested by the station. Plans have been perfected for undertaking experiments on the improvement of the live stock of the island, which is now of very low grade, and 6 head of Morgan horses, 5 of Ayrshire cattle, 4 Berkshire hogs, and some poultry were shipped to Guam by Government transport in September. There is a growing interest in the work of the station, which has been greatly promoted by the cordial cooperation of the local authorities.
DESIRABILITY OF ESTABLISHING STATION AT TUTUILA.
The attention of the department has been called by the naval Governor of Tutuila to the desirability of establishing an agricultural experiment station on that island. This and the adjoining Manua Islands of the Samoan group came into the possession of the United States in 1899. The people are mainly engaged in agriculture, copra, the dried flesh of the coconut, being their only marketable product. The coconut beetle, a very destructive pest, is said to be present on neighboring islands, and its appearance on Tutuila would probably be followed by the destruction of the copra industry so far as that island is concerned. The establishment of an experiment station with men trained along the lines of modern agriculture would aid materially in preventing its introduction and also would demonstrate the advantages of more diversified agriculture.
The Office of Experiment Stations has maintained its former lines of irrigation investigations with such modifications as have been necessary to best meet the changing conditions and the new problems. The work has been conducted chiefly along three lines: (1) Investigations and experiments to ascertain better methods of applying water and of preventing wastes through seepage, evaporation, and overapplication, to determine the effects of irrigation upon the yield and quality of crops, and to obtain data as to power and pumping; (2) the collection of data and publication of bulletins and circulars on methods of applying water to different crops, the irrigation possibilities and conditions in different sections of the arid West, and pumping; (3) the furnishing of prospective settlers with information concerning different localities and advising new and old settlers in irrigated sections in regard to the methods best adapted to their individual needs and how best to use their water supplies. This last line of work has occupied the greater part of the time of the 10 agents of this office detailed to have charge of the work in the various Western States and Territories.
The investigations and experiments regarding seepage from canals, evaporation from irrigated soils, and the most economical amount of water to use on different crops in different localities have all been continued and have had a noteworthy effect in reducing the losses of water due to the wasteful methods too commonly practiced. The demonstration farms at Davis, Cal.; Gooding, Idaho; Cheyenne and Newcastle, Wyo., and Eads, Colo., have also exerted a great influence by giving irrigators of those sections actual demonstrations of the best methods of applying water.
Among the most important drainage investigations of the year have been those pertaining to the reclamation of tidal marshes. The growing population and the scarcity of good upland farms, particularly in the Atlantic Coast States, have caused search to be made for any uncultivated lands that could be made profitable for agriculture. It is not surprising, in view of the richness of European lands reclaimed from the sea, that attention early turned toward the salt marshes. On account of the interest aroused in this work, a thorough investigation has been made by this office. Four large tracts of drained tidal marsh on the Delaware River have been minutely studied, with the view of determining the kind of marsh lands that might be profitably reclaimed, the special requirements of the protective and drainage works, the causes of past failures, the
23165°-AGR 1911- 10
treatment of the soil to fit it for dry-land crops, the kind of crops best suited to newly reclaimed marshes, the cost of reclamation, and the profitableness of the reclamation. Very full data were obtained on nearly all these points. The investigations along the Delaware River were supplemented by examinations of reclaimed lands on the coast of New England, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.
In continuing studies of the nutritive value of animal and vegetable products used as food, attention has been directed particularly to two lines of work, namely, the use of cheese and other materials as possible substitutes for meat in the diet, and the adaptation of the respiration calorimeter to studies of physiological changes in vegetable products, particularly with reference to the changes which bananas undergo during the active ripening period.
The work with cheese and other meat substitutes has involved respiration calorimeter experiments on the relative ease of digestion of cheese and meat, as well as more practical experiments, the general conclusion being that if a housekeeper so desires it is possible to prepare a well-balanced dietary in which cheese and other foods may be used wholly or in part in place of meat. The question has been discussed at length in an article in the Yearbook, while much related information on the use of cheese in the diet has been prepared for publication as a Farmers' Bulletin.
Particularly interesting is the adaptation of the respiration calorimeter to the study of problems of vegetable physiology, and the results obtained in a series of experiments carried on in cooperation with the Bureau of Chemistry on the respiration and energy output of bananas during the active ripening period. Not only have the results provided facts of great value in connection with studies of ripening fruit which the department is carrying on, as well as facts of theoretical interest, but they have also shown that the respiration calorimeter offers a new means for studying problems of vegetable physiology which are of great importance to the producer and shipper of agricultural products, the warehouseman, and those who store products in the home, as well as to the student interested in the study of technical questions.
OFFICE OF PUBLIC ROADS.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE ROAD PROBLEM.
The United States is in the midst of a national readjustment with regard to road improvement. The rapidly changing traffic conditions have necessitated equally radical departures from the old methods of road construction and maintenance. Methods which but a few years ago were considered entirely satisfactory and firmly established, both in theory and practice, are now often found to be entirely inadequate. In road administration the old principle of extreme localization is fast giving way to new systems involving the principle of centralization and fixed responsibility. A great deal of careful scientific, as well as educational, work is needed in order to solve correctly the many difficult problems which have arisen in regard to the administration, construction, and maintenance of our public roads. This work should prove of the greatest value to the whole country.
OBJECT-LESSON AND EXPERIMENTAL ROADS.
The questions which confront road builders vary greatly with local conditions. Instruction in the art of road building to be of real practical value must be adapted to the peculiar conditions of each locality. Such instruction is given by the Office of Public Roads through the medium of object-lesson roads, built at local expense. During the past fiscal year roads were built in 52 places, involving an expenditure of approximately $120,000 by the local authorities. The types of road construction included sand-clay, earth, gravel, oiled gravel, plain macadam, bituminous macadam, oil concrete, and slag asphalt. When it is considered that each of these 52 object-lesson roads constitutes a practical school of applied road building, it must be evident that this feature of the department's work is a powerful factor in the great Nation-wide movement for the betterment of our public roads.
For the purpose of giving expert advice concerning specific problems in road work 183 special assignments covering 30 States were made. This work related to such varied subjects as construction of various types of road, surveys, use of prison labor in road work, bridge construction, road maintenance, use of the split-log drag, road materials, effect of automobiles on roads, issuance of bonds for road improvement, road drainage, and other work along similar lines. This is most positive evidence of the wide usefulness of this office, and shows also how generally local communities have come to look upon the Office of Public Roads as a body of consulting engineers and experts capable of offering effective and reliable advice concerning difficult and special problems which are not easily handled by the local authorities.
Work under the project of model systems has shown a most wonderful increase during the year. Assistance along these lines has been given to 14 counties in 8 States, as against 3 counties in 1910. This is work of the most useful and permanent character. It involves a thorough investigation of the entire road system of the county with regard to location, materials, systems of construction, maintenance, and administration. In fact, every feature bearing on the practical improvement and future maintenance of the roads of the county is considered, and a practical working scheme for the present as well as future betterment and maintenance is drawn up and given to the proper authorities.
LECTURES, ADDRESSES, AND PAPERS. Lectures, addresses, and papers form an important part of the educational work of the Office of Public Roads, which has been greatly increased during the year. These lectures are in almost all cases given by the men who direct the investigative work and the construction and maintenance of the object-lesson roads, and are therefore of a practical and instructive character. During the year 723 lectures and addresses were given in 35 States, as compared with 523 for the previous year. These lectures had a total attendance of over 200,000, a large majority of whom were farmers.
INSTRUCTION IN HIGHWAY ENGINEERING. The project for the instruction of engineer students in practical methods of road construction and maintenance has been enlarged and improved during the year. The plan provides for the appointment each year of graduate engineers to the position of civil-engineer student. The course of instruction covers one year, during which the student receives a most thorough training in all branches of the work. The Office of Public Roads is in constant receipt of requests from States, counties, and townships to recommend competent young engineers to take charge of road improvement. During the year 12 engineers, constituting a very considerable percentage of the total number, resigned to take up work in various parts of the country.
While the work of the office is to a certain extent handicapped by this constant drain, it is believed that the benefit derived by the country in general through the distribution of properly trained highway engineers in the various States and counties is so great as to vindicate the wisdom of this project. While the object-lesson work is an excellent example in any community, it lacks the living, dynamic force which the capable, progressive engineer exerts continually from year to year on the movement for better roads in all of its varied phases.
HIGHWAY BRIDGES AND CULVERTS.
During the year a bridge section has been established in the Office of Public Roads. The need for better culverts and bridges for our public highways is becoming evident from the point of view both of