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Notwithstanding the fact that rapid and material improvement has been made in agronomic methods and in practically every phase of farming, almost no advancement has been made in the management of farm pastures. This is apparently due to the lack of a full appreciation of their value, for it is a fact that pastures will stand neglect to a greater extent than any other portion of the farm and that the results of care and treatment are not so readily noticeable as in the case of cultivated crops. The careful investigations that have been under way for the last four years are now beginning to point to methods of management that will very materially increase the income from pastures that are now unprofitable. The optimum rate of grazing pastures seems to be one of the most important factors in connection with their management. In carefully conducted tests very light grazing as well as very heavy grazing has proved injurious. The value of alternate grazing and surface cultivation has been measured under carefully controlled conditions, and data have been accumulated to form a basis for reliable recommendations.
A new forage crop to become popular in any section must possess points of superiority over forage crops that are already well established. This season two new grasses, Rhodes grass and Sudan grass, have proved to be so superior to other grasses for the same conditions that they are being accepted at once in sections where they have been tested.
The ability of Rhodes grass to produce heavy yields of palatable and nutritious hay in Florida and other parts of the Gulf coast region, where a good hay grass is a valuable desideratum, makes this grass one of the most promising of recently introduced plants.
Sudan grass, introduced from Africa, is another example of a new forage crop that has become popular almost in one season. This grass apparently possesses all the valuable characteristics of the well-known Johnson grass without being at all troublesome as a weed on cultivated land. Sudan grass is an extremely promising grass not only for the South, where Johnson grass is now being grown, but also for sections farther north as an annual crop to replace millet. It is a very drought-resistant species and gives heavy yields of good hay.
A new variety of velvet bean promises to become a valuable crop for forage and soil improvement in sections that are considerably north of those now producing the Florida velvet bean. While further tests of this variety are necessary to determine its value and northern limit, the present indications are that it will become a very popular and profitable crop as far north as southern Arkansas.
INVESTIGATIONS IN FARM MANAGEMENT.
This important work will be grouped under four principal heads: (1) Studies of farm practice; (2) cost accounting and farm records; (3) farm equipment; and (4) farm problems, or extension work. In the studies of farm practice, much additional information has been secured concerning the relation of farm practice to crop yield, the relation of methods of tillage to crop yield and to soil and labor conditions, and the relation of cropping systems and methods of tillage to weed control. Particular attention has been given to the relation of crops to the general distribution of labor on the farm. An important phase of the work of farm management has to do with the problems of the farmer or the application of all the data secured to the individual farm. From most of these farms similar records were secured last year. These records show the cost of every kind of farm operation under widely varying conditions of management. They also show the dates at which all work is done and the number of men and horses required to perform each operation economically, and hence they are of great value in formulating working plans for farms. A careful study has been made of the capital invested, the elements of cost, and the sources and amount of income on all farms in several representative townships in three Middle Western States. These studies give important information on the types of farming best adapted to that section, the relation of successful management to the training and education of the farmer, the average percentage of profit on the investment, the relation of profit to the seasonal distribution of labor, and many other important problems connected with the organization and conduct of the business of the farm.
Studies of the character and cost of all phases of farm equipment and the distribution of capital among the elements of equipment, su as land, buildings, fences, live stock, and implements and machinery, have been conducted on a large number of farms in several widely separated localities. In connection with the studies of cost accounting and farm records, investigations have been made of all the operations on a large number of farms. The reorganization and redirection of agriculture in the various sections of the country is a task calling not only for broad knowledge of the sciences which are fundamental in agriculture, but also for an intimate knowledge both of farm practice and of the problems confronting the farmer in any given section. Changes in farm practice in many localities are imperative for the good of the farmer as well as for the general welfare. In many places the practice of unwise methods has resulted in marked decrease in the yielding power of the soil. In nearly all of the older States there is a noticeable decrease in rural population. The growth of urban population and the development of transportation facilities have made important changes in the demand, and hence in prices, of farm products, rendering changes in types of farming desirable and necessary. The problem of tenant farming is pressing for solution. As the older men retire, the young men having largely entered other callings, it becomes necessary to rent the farm. The tenant is usually without the capital necessary to equip for live-stock farming; he therefore exploits the farm and then moves on to exploit another. This problem must receive attention. Systems of tenant farming must be evolved that will give consideration to the future productiveness of the soil.
The necessity for important modifications in farm practice and the reorganization of the agriculture of many sections is becoming generally recognized and public interest is being awakened. This is one of the most important phases of the work of this department. An organization has been formed and men have been trained to lead in this work. We are now ready to extend this work. In doing this we propose to cooperate as closely as possible with all those agencies in the several States which are interested in work of this character.
FARMERS' COOPERATIVE DEMONSTRATION WORK. The farmers' cooperative demonstration work has been developed into a system for carrying information to the farmer on his own farm. It has as two of its strongest points the carrying on of demonstrations in the production of standard crops under the bestknown methods on the land of the farmer being instructed and the securing of such active cooperation in the demonstration on the part of the farmer as to bring about the adoption of the method advocated. After seven years of experience and development it has grown into a great and successful institution. Not only has it been successful in showing the southern cotton farmer how to meet the ravages of the cotton boll weevil, but it has spread abroad through southern agriculture lessons of great value, and rapid strides are being made in that section in diversified farming, the keeping of live stock, and the building up of soil fertility. From the great extent of this work and the years of experience the department has had with it, it may safely be said at this time that when intelligently directed this method of disseminating agricultural knowledge proves successful and secures the allegiance of the educated and progressive farmer as well as the poorer classes and negro tenants.
One important branch of this work has been the boys' corn club movement. This has attracted much attention, and has served as a means of stimulating general interest in better agriculture in the South and better knowledge of its great agricultural resources. Corn clubs were organized in other States for some years before they were started by this movement in the South, but nowhere have they been organized more systematically or successfully. The numbers have increased from a small beginning four years ago until the present enrollment is practically 60,000. Prizes are awarded for excellence in growing corn on one acre to be contested for by boys organized into clubs in cooperation with the public-school system of States and counties. The prizes are contributed either in money or useful things by merchants, commercial organizations, public-spirited individuals, and others. One of the strong features has been the method of awarding prizes, the prizes not being given to the boy who raises the most corn on his acre, but the practical and educational value of the lesson is kept in mind, and in making up the award emphasis is given to best yield, minimum cost of production, quality of corn produced, and best written report of the undertaking. The prize winner in each State as a rule has part of his reward in a prize trip to Washington, where the boys gathered from the several States receive much attention and have opportunity to see and study the interesting things in the Capital City. These clubs are helpful in attracting the attention of the young men to the advantages of farming as an occupation, in waking up the older farmer to the advantages of better methods of production, and in assisting the publicschool system in vitalizing rural education. In the States of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas this boys' corn club work has been carried on by the Farmers' Cooperative Demonstration Work in direct cooperation with the agricultural colleges of each of those States.
As the home is the all-important feature of farm life and is closely associated with its economy, it has been thought wise to help the girls as well as the boys. The problem of the production of home supplies is close to the home. With the great possibilities the South has for the production of vegetables and fruits and with the modern conveniences accessible for canning and preserving them, it is possible to have provisions of the best kind the year round. This and the keeping of poultry go far toward relieving the wrong side of the family ledger. Girls' canning and poultry clubs have been organized by the department in cooperation with colleges of agriculture and other institutions in the South, the object being to instruct the girls in the best methods of raising the ordinary garden vegetables, canning the same for winter use, and the care and keeping of poultry. This work is financed by the General Education Board of New York, with the hearty financial cooperation of the agricultural colleges of the South, and to it, through the demonstration work, the department is lending its guiding assistance. This work has only just begun. Prizes are offered in the same way as in the corn clubs, and the girls and farm women of the South are showing great interest in this branch of the work.
PROGRESS IN PLANT INTRODUCTION.
The striking fact that the vast majority of valuable varieties of our cultivated crop plants have originated by chance and been discovered by private individuals seems to warrant the encouragement throughout the country of private testing gardens as well as official ones, in which newly introduced plants can be grown and closely watched by intelligent and interested people. It is not deemed expedient as a policy to support these testing gardens with Federal funds, but to supply the plant material which is propagated in extensive propagating gardens, and in this way encourage the building up of permanent collections and arboreta which shall be supported by State appropriations or private endowments.
In order to encourage those thoroughly interested in the testing of new plants and their use in the creation of new varieties, plant introducers are sent out to visit the various gardens and bona fide private experimenters. They arrange for the placing of the valuable plants, interpret the results, suggest new and promising fields of investigation, and report on the demands for foreign plants with which to work.
In addition to the State experiment stations, permanent places for the testing of long-lived perennial plants have been found in city parks, the grounds around many public institutions, and the farms connected with the Indian reservations. By this method a wider circle of experts and amateurs is being reached than would be possible by the building up of a few large collections, in that it brings to their own gardens new plants upon which they can experiment and which they can breed with our native species.
An agricultural explorer has during the year explored the cold dry regions of Chinese Turkestan and crossed the Tien Shan Range into Siberia and obtained wild apples, pears, bush cherries, and other fruits and forage plants which can not fail to be of value to the breeders of hardy plants in the Northwest.
CONGRESSIONAL SEED DISTRIBUTION.
Seeds and plants were distributed upon congressional order as in former years. Between six and seven hundred tons of vegetable and flower seeds, put up in approximately 60,000,000 packets, were distributed the past season. Of this quantity about 10 per cent was flower seed and 90 per cent vegetable seed. Approximately one-third of the total quantity was procured from surplus stocks, and the remainder was grown under contract for the department during the current season. In every case seed was secured on competitive bids, and no seed was accepted for distribution unless it was found after repeated tests to be of satisfactory purity and vitality. Every lot