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munificent endowments of public lands to the several States, for the purpose of establishing Agricultural Colleges, and for the promotion of the general interests of the farmers and mechanics of our land. The quantity of land received by the State of New York, was 990,000 acres, and the Trustees of the College, with as I think, no unreasonable expectation, anticipated that a portion of this great endowment would be appropriated to the sustainment of an Agricultural College already organized; but the Legislature, in their wisdom, have disposed of it differently.
Do the farmers feel that the disposition made of this endowment by the Legislature was the wisest and best that could be made under the circumstances, and likely to redound most largely to the advantage of those interests which it was intended to foster and promote? If not, with them rests the power to compel a reconsideration of this legislation, and to cause such disposition of the revenue arising from this source, as will secure its full benefits.
In view of the great results from the agricultural industry of the Free States, and the development of power and resource, to an extent which few, even of the most sanguine, anticipated, does it not behoove us to look well to it, that the interests of our agriculturists should receive timely and proper attention?
The proud motto of our State is " Excelsior," and she yet maintains the first place in population, in value of agricultural products, and in commerce; and most earnestly do I hope that our noble State will always hold that proud pre-eminence. Yet others are pressing hard after, and as a well recognized means to the end aimed at, (the increase of their agricultural products,) are with wise foresight fostering the interests of the producers, by liberal appropriations of the public money.
For instance, the Legislature of the comparatively weak State of Michigan, has made appropriations of the following amounts for the establishment and support of an agricultural college, viz:
In 1855, the proceeds of the sale of 22 sections of salt springs
40,000 In 1859, an appropriation of...
37,500 In 1861, an appropriation of.
$198,320 And in addition to all this, the Legislature, at its session last winter, passed over to the college the congressional grant of 240,000 acres of land.
How very forcibly does their enlightened liberality contrast with the course of our Legislature!
This subject of education, with a particular reference to agricultural pursuits, is one of such great importance to the State, to the community, and to every individual citizen, that I am unwilling to pass it lightly. With our last president, I feel it to be a great misfortune, that the feeling should so generally exist among our farming community, that the mere rudiments of education are sufficient for the boy who intends to be a farmer, often for the sake of his assistance on the farm, depriving him of availing to anything like the full extent, of the advantages which are afforded by our noble system of common schools; whilst, for the one who chooses to follow some one of those called the learned professions, he recognizes the necessity of a longer period for study, and all the advantages for the attainment of general information and mental training, offered by a collegiate
Now there is no man in any profession or pursuit in life who more needs the aid of a thorough education, especially in the physical sciences, than the farmer. Whether he farms for the production of cereals alone, gives his attention to the feeding of animals for market, or to the introduction and improvement of stock, he is constantly brought in contact with the great laws of nature; and, though he may and does learn much that is valuable by mere experience, how much more might he learn and communicate for the general benefit, if that experience were utilized by a general intelligence, and a knowledge of the laws and principles that govern all production.
Isaac Newton, the commissioner of agriculture, in his late interesting and valuable report, says: "Agriculture is a growth like the plant it cultivates, and like the mind also, the more it is developed the more it yields. - It can be easily shown that there is no occupation of life where extensive knowledge is more necessary than in the proper cultivation of the soil. There is no occupation so intimately blended with all the branches of the natural sciences, to which geology, chemistry, botany and entomology are such valuable auxiliaries. Of all human pursuits, agriculture is first in order, in necessity and importance. The best farmer is always the most intelligent man, and a community of knowledge is one of the strongest ties that can bind and bless society. The simple argument, therefore, is this: increased scientific and practical knowledge, in any occupation, increases man's power in a ten-fold ratio; agricultural knowledge, therefore, begets productiveness, and in the same proportion developes the wealth, the prosperity and the progress of our country.” Sir Humphrey Davy once remarked, when speaking of the future influence of agricultural chemistry, that “nothing is impossible to labor aided by science. The objects of the skillful agriculturist are like those of the thoughtful patriot Men value most what they have gained with effort, and a just confidence in their own powers results from success. They love their country better because they have seen it improved by their own talents and industry, and they identify with their own interests the existence of those institutions and pursuits, which have afforded them security, independence and the multiplied enjoyments of civilized life.” If these remarks of this eminent man were applicable to the British agriculturist, are they not ten-fold more so to the American, who owns the soil he cultivates, and the main leading interest of whose comparatively boundless country is, and must always be, agriculture!
Do Americans realize the gigantic strides which agriculture has made, and is making in the West? Take a single decade, and look at the vast increase of productions! I take the following figures from the report of the Department of Agriculture:
Iowa, in 1850, produced 1,530,581 bushels of wheat, and in 1860, 8,433,205 bushels; of Indian corn, in 1850, 8,656,799 bushels, and in 1860, 41,117,000 bushels.
Minnesota produced of wheat, in 1850, 1,401 bushels, and in 1860, 2,195,812 bushels; of Indian corn, in 1850, 16,725 bushels, and in 1860, 2,987,570 busbels.
And this increase runs through all their agricultural productions, in nearly the same ratio. Nor is it confined to the States mentioned, but will be exhibited in a greater or less degree in every Western State.
Now, we of the older States have sent forth, and will for a long period continue to send forth, the stalwart men by whose untiring labor and ready intelligence the Great West has been developed, and the consequent immense addition to the wealth of the country; and is it not highly important that they should go armed with scientific knowledge as well as practical experience, that they may preserve, by judicious culture, the pristine richness of these garden lands of our country, which will, in a not remote future, become the central granaries, whence swarming millions will draw the staff of life?
One other remark in regard to agricultural edncation, and I have done. The question has often been asked me, as it has doubtless of many of those before me this evening, by gentlemen resident in cities, professional men or merchants: “Where can I send my son to learn farming? Is there any agricultural school or college in this State?" I do not know of any. I might advise that he be placed with some good farmer, to learn practical farming, in the absence of any institution where he might learn both theory and practice; but there again I am at fault, for I cannot name to him any farmer with whom he may be placed, nor do I know how he can ascertain whether there are any farmers who would take this class of young men to be educated in the profession they desire to learn.
Every man of intelligence knows full well the importance of capital to thorough farming operations. I should rather say, the necessity of it-and one great reason why there are so many poor farmers and so much poor farming in this country, undoubtedly is the very small percentage of capital employed to the breadth of land cultivated. In England it is estimated that the working capital of a farmer should average from $35 to $50 per acre; and while we cannot expect this, and perhaps do not need so much in this country, yet there is great room for improvement, and consequently every reason why the opportunity of learning how to farm should be open to the class who, possessing capital, could, and if we judge from the results in England, would do much to improve the general character of our farming, and to increase the average productiveness of our land.
No one, I think, can doubt this who has observed the immense improvement in neat stock alone, effected during the past ten years by a few of the leading farmers of this State, most if not all of them active and prominent members of this Society; and the effects of their improvements, great and valuable as they are in the present, will be carried forward with an increasing ratio of value into the far future.
Individually, and as a Society, we may bring a great influence to bear in forwarding the cause of agricultural education, and I think posterity [Ag. Trans.]
will award high honor to those who shall be instrumental in establishing a complete and thorough working system.
During the year which has elapsed since, by your kind partiality, I was called upon to preside over the interests of this Society, we have to mourn the loss of two active and prominent members—the one stricken down on the field of battle while in the brave and faithful discharge of a patriot's highest duty,* and the other dying from the results of exposure while in the service of the country. We regret them as friends, we miss them as earnest and able co-workers in our wide field of usefulness, and will garner their memories among our kindest remembrances.
In closing, let me say that, in devolving the Presidency upon another, I lay aside only official duties and honors. My earnest and hearty interest in and for the Society endures, and I look forward while life and health are spared me, to a continuance of my pleasant labors in its ranks.
There now only remains to me the pleasant duty of introducing my successor, James O. Sheldon, Esq.
• Col. Sherrill, of Geneva.
+ Col. Francis M. Rotoh, of Otsego.
DISCUSSIONS AT THE NEW YORK STATE FAIR,
Meetings for discussion were held every evening during the State Fair, in the City Hall at Utica, and, as usual, were well attended-many of the best farmers in the State being present. The subject selected for discussion the first evening (Tuesday) was
"The most economical method of supplying the surface soil with the mineral food of plants, whether by its direct application, by subsoiling, or by the plowing in of deep rooted plants."
[The question to be restricted to those cases where the surface soil has been subject, for a period of at least fifteen years, to the ordinary methods of cultivation by a rotation of crops, and where the subsoil, whether of sedimentary or primary formation, is not below the surface an average distance of over six feet. In all instances of such soil and subsoil adduced for illustration in the discussion, the same to be accurately described. I
The Hon. A. B. Conger, of Rockland county, president of the meetings, opened the discussion. He remarked that it was now well understood that land which had been under ordinary cultivation for fifteen or twenty years, was deficient in mineral plant food--the crops removed from the land robbed the soil of mineral ingredients. Many soils that formerly produced good crops, now fail. It had been thought that the climate had changed, but agricultural chemistry has shown us that the soil had been robbed of the food of plants. It is thought that fifteen years of such cropping as is frequently adopted, would abstract so much of the food of plants that the soil would no longer give an adequate return for the labor bestowed in its cultivation.
It might excite some surprise that the question was restricted to a soil where the subsoil was not more than six feet below the surface. Many plants throw their roots to a greater distance than six feet, and bring up food from the subsoil. The Hon. Geo. Geddes had sent a clover plant to the Society's rooms, at Albany, that had a root four feet two inches in length. Lucern will throw its roots over thirty feet; rape, over six feet—and many other plants will send out roots to a much greater distance than is generally supposed. Now if the surface is deficient in mineral plant food and the subsoil is rich, subsoiling will allow the roots to penetrate this rich subsoil. The small fibrous roots will take up the mineral plant food, and it will be deposited in the bulbs or larger roots near the surface; and when these are plowed under, the surface soil will be enriched for the following crops.
This is one way of furnishing the surface soil with mineral plant food. There is another-purchasing mineral manures. Wheat requires phosphoric acid. Farmers usually provide this in bones and American guano. The practical question is, whether it is more economical to purchase mineral