Posted by: khatraadibasi | October 29, 2011

Adopting a Farm




I have now come to the farmer’s life, with which I am exceedingly delighted, and which seems to me to belong especially to the life of a wise man.


Weary of boarding at seashore and mountain, tired of traveling in search of comfort, hating hotel life, I visited a country friend at Gooseville, Conn. (an assumed name for Foxboro, Mass.), and passed three happy weeks in her peaceful home.

Far away at last from the garish horrors of dress, formal dinners, visits, and drives, the inevitable and demoralizing gossip and scandal; far away from hotel piazzas, with their tedious accompaniments of corpulent dowagers, exclusive or inquisitive, slowly dying from too much food and too little exercise; ennuied spinsters; gushing buds; athletic collegians, cigarettes in mouths and hands in pockets; languid, drawling dudes; old bachelors, fluttering around the fair human flower like September butterflies; fancy work, fancy work, like Penelope’s web, never finished; pug dogs of the aged and asthmatic variety. Everything there but MEN—they are wise enough to keep far away.

Before leaving this haven of rest, I heard that the old-fashioned farm-house just opposite was for sale. And, as purchasers of real estate were infrequent at Gooseville, it would be rented for forty dollars a year to any responsible tenant who would “keep it up.”

After examining the house from garret to cellar and looking over the fields with a critical eye, I telegraphed to the owner, fearful of losing such a prize, that I would take it for three years. For it captivated me. The cosy “settin’-room,” with a “pie closet” and an upper tiny cupboard known as a “rum closet” and its pretty fire place—bricked up, but capable of being rescued from such prosaic “desuetude”; a large sunny dining-room, with a brick oven, an oven suggestive of brown bread and baked beans—yes, the baked beans of my childhood, that adorned the breakfast table on a Sunday morning, cooked with just a little molasses and a square piece of crisp salt pork in center, a dish to tempt a dying anchorite.

There wore two broad landings on the stairs, the lower one just the place for an old clock to tick out its impressive “Forever—Never—Never—Forever” à laLongfellow. Then the long “shed chamber” with a wide swinging door opening to the west, framing a sunset gorgeous enough to inspire a mummy. And the attic, with its possible treasures.

There was also a queer little room, dark and mysterious, in the center of house on the ground floor, without even one window, convenient to retire to during severe thunder storms or to evade a personal interview with a burglar; just the place, too, for a restless ghost to revisit.

Best of all, every room was blessed with two closets.

Outside, what rare attractions! Twenty-five acres of arable land, stretching to the south; a grand old barn, with dusty, cobwebbed, hay-filled lofts, stalls for two horses and five cows; hen houses, with plenty of room to carry out a long-cherished plan of starting a poultry farm.

The situation, too, was exceptional, since the station from which I could take trains direct to Boston and New York almost touched the northern corner of the farm, and nothing makes one so willing to stay in a secluded spot as the certainty that he or she can leave it at any time and plunge directly into the excitements and pleasures which only a large city gives.

What charmed me most of all was a tiny but fascinating lakelet in the pasture near the house; a “spring-hole” it was called by the natives, but a lakelet it was to me, full of the most entrancing possibilities. It could be easily enlarged at once, and by putting a wind-mill on the hill, by the deep pool in “Chicken Brook” where the pickerel loved to sport, and damming something, somewhere, I could create or evolve a miniature pond, transplant water lilies, pink and white, set willow shoots around the well-turfed, graveled edge, with roots of the forget-me-not hiding under the banks their blue blossoms; just the flower for happy lovers to gather as they lingered in their rambles to feed my trout. And there should be an arbor, vine-clad and sheltered from the curious gaze of the passers-by, and a little boat, moored at a little wharf, and a plank walk leading up to the house. And—and oh, the idealism possible when an enthusiastic woman first rents a farm—an “abandoned” farm!

It may be more exact to say that my farm was not exactly “abandoned,” as its owner desired a tenant and paid the taxes; say rather depressed, full of evil from long neglect, suffering from lack of food and general debility.

As “abandoned farms” are now a subject of general interest, let me say that my find was nothing unusual. The number of farms without occupants in New Hampshire in August, 1889, was 1,342 and in Maine 3,318; and I saw lately a farm of twenty acres advertised “free rent and a present of fifty dollars.”

But it is my farm I want you to care about. I could hardly wait until winter was over to begin my new avocation. By the last of March I was assured by practical agriculturists (who regarded me with amusement tempered with pity) that it was high time to prune the lazy fruit trees and arouse, if possible, the debilitated soil—in short, begin to “keep it up.”

So I left New York for the scene of my future labors and novel lessons in life, accompanied by a German girl who proved to be merely an animated onion in matters of cooking, a half-breed hired man, and a full-bred setter pup who suffered severely from nostalgia and strongly objected to the baggage car and separation from his playmates.

If wit is, as has been averred, the “juxtaposition of dissimilar ideas,” then from “Gotham to Gooseville” is the most scintillating epigram ever achieved. Nothing was going on at Gooseville except time and the milk wagon collecting for the creamery. The latter came rumbling along every morning at 4.30 precisely, with a clatter of cans that never failed to arouse the soundest sleeper.

The general dreariness of the landscape was depressing. Nature herself seemed in a lethargic trance, and her name was mud.

But with a house to furnish and twenty-five enfeebled acres to resuscitate, one must not mind. Advanced scientists assure us of life, motion, even intelligence, appetite, and affection in the most primitive primordial atoms. So, after a little study, I found that the inhabitants of Gooseville and its outlying hamlets were neither dead nor sleeping. It was only by contrast that they appeared comatose and moribund.

Indeed, the degree of gayety was quite startling. I was at once invited to “gatherings” which rejoiced in the paradoxical title of “Mum Sociables,” where a penalty of five cents was imposed on each person for speaking (the revenue to go toward buying a new hearse, a cheerful object of benevolence), and the occasions were most enjoyable. There was also a “crazy party” at Way-back, the next village. This special form of lunacy I did not indulge in—farming was enough for me—but the painter who was enlivening my dining-room with a coating of vivid red and green, kindly told me all about it, how much I missed, and how the couple looked who took the first prize. The lady wore tin plates, tin cans, tin spoons, etc., sewed on to skirt and waist in fantastic patterns, making music as she walked, and on her head a battered old coffee pot, with artificial flowers which had outlived their usefulness sticking out of the spout; and her winning partner was arrayed in rag patchwork of the most demented variety.

“Youdorter gone” said he; “’twas a great show. But I bet youder beaten the hull lot on ‘em if you’d set your mind on’t!”

My walls were now covered with old-fashioned papers, five and ten cents a roll, and cheap matting improved the floors. But how to furnish eleven rooms? This brings me to—



“Going, going, gone.”

Next came the excitement of auctions, great occasions, and of vital importance to me, as I was ambitious to furnish the entire house for one hundred dollars.

When the head of a family dies a settlement of the estate seems to make an auction necessary. I am glad of the custom, it proved of invaluable service to me, and the mortality among old people was quite phenomenal at Gooseville and thereabouts last year. While I deeply regretted the demise of each and all, still this general taking off was opportune for my needs.

There were seventeen auctions last season, and all but two were attended by me or my representatives.

A country auction is not so exciting as one in the city; still you must be wide-awake and cool, or you will be fleeced. An experienced friend, acquainted with the auctioneer, piloted me through my first sale, and for ten dollars I bought enough really valuable furniture to fill a large express wagon—as a large desk with drawers, little and big, fascinating pigeon holes, and a secret drawer, for two dollars; queer old table, ten cents; good solid chairs, nine cents each; mahogany center-table, one dollar and sixteen cents; and, best of all, a tall and venerable clock for the landing, only eight dollars! Its “innards” sadly demoralized, but capable of resuscitation, the weights being tin-cans filled with sand and attached by strong twine to the “works.” It has to be wound twice daily, and when the hour hand points to six and the other to ten, I guess that it is about quarter past two, and in five minutes I hear the senile timepiece strike eleven!

The scene was unique. The sale had been advertised in post-office and stores as beginning at 10 A.M., but at eleven the farmers and their women folks were driving toward the house. A dozen old men, chewing tobacco and looking wise, were in the barn yard examining the stock to be sold, the carts and farming tools; a flock of hens were also to be disposed of, at forty cents each.

On such occasions the families from far and near who want to dispose of any old truck are allowed to bring it to add to the motley display. The really valuable possessions, if any, are kept back, either for private sale or to be divided among the heirs. I saw genuine antiques occasionally—old oak chests, finely carved oaken chairs—but these were rare. After the horses have been driven up and down the street, and with the other stock disposed of, it is time for lunch. Following the crowd into the kitchen, you see two barrels of crackers open, a mammoth cheese of the skim-milk species with a big knife by it, and on the stove a giant kettle in which cotton bags full of coffee are being distilled in boiling water. You are expected to dip a heavy white mug into the kettle for your share of the fragrant reviving beverage, cut off a hunk of cheese, and eat as many crackers as you can. It tasted well, that informal “free lunch.”

Finding after one or two trials that the interested parties raised rapidly on anything I desired. I used to send Gusta and John, nicknamed very properly “Omniscience and Omnipotence,” which names did equally well when reversed (like a paper cuff), and they, less verdant than their mistress, would return with an amazing array of stuff. We now have everything but a second-hand pulpit, a wooden leg, and a coffin plate. We utilized a cradle and antique churn as a composite flower stand; an immense spinning-wheel looks pretty covered with running vines, an old carriage lantern gleams brightly on my piazza every evening. I nearly bought a horse for fifteen dollars, and did secure a wagon for one dollar and a half, which, after a few needed repairs, costing only twenty-six dollars, was my pride, delight and comfort, and the envy of the neighborhood. Men came from near and far to examine that wagon, felt critically of every wheel, admired the shining coat of dark-green paint, and would always wind up with: “I vum, if that ‘ere wagon ain’t fine! Why, it’s wuth fifty dollars, now, ef it’s wuth a cent!” After a hard day’s work, it seemed a gratification to them to come with lanterns to renew their critical survey, making a fine Rembrandtish study as they stood around it and wondered. A sleigh was bought for three dollars which, when painted by our home artist, is both comfortable and effective.

At one auction, where I was the only woman present, I bid on three shovels (needed to dig worms for my prize hens!) and, as the excitement increased with a rise in bids from two cents to ten, I cried, “Eleven!” And the gallant old fellow in command roared out as a man opened his mouth for “Twelve!”: “I wouldn’t bid ag’in a woman ef I’se you. Let ‘er have ‘em! Madam, Mum, or Miss—I can’t pernounce your name and don’t rightly know how to spell it—but the shovels are yourn!”

Attending auctions may be an acquired taste, but it grows on one like any other habit, and whenever a new and tempting announcement calls, I rise to the occasion and hasten to the scene of action, be the weather what it may. And many a treasure has been picked up in this way. Quaint old mirrors with the queerest pictures above, brass knockers, candlesticks of queer patterns, cups and saucers and plates, mugs of all sizes, from one generous enough to satisfy the capacities of a lager-soaked Dutchman to a dear little child’s mug, evidently once belonging to a series. Mine was for March. A mother sitting on a bench, with a bowl of possibly Lenten soup by her side, is reproving a fat little fellow for his gross appetite at this solemn season. He is weeping, and on her other side a pet dog is pleading to be fed. The rhyme explains the reason:

The jovial days of feasting past,

‘Tis pious prudence come at last;

And eager gluttony is taught

To be content with what it ought.

A warming pan and a foot stove, just as it was brought home from a merry sleigh-ride, or a solemn hour at the “meetin’-house,” recalling that line of Thomas Gray’s:

E’en in our ashes live their wonted fires.

Sometimes I would offer a little more to gain some coveted treasure already bid off. How a city friend enjoyed the confidences of a man who had agreed to sell for a profit! How he chuckled as he told of “one of them women who he guessed was a leetle crazy.” “Why, jest think on’t! I only paid ten cents for that hull lot on the table yonder, and she” (pointing to me) “she gin me a quarter for that old pair o’ tongs!”

One day I heard some comments on myself after I had bid on a rag carpet and offered more than the other women knew it was worth.

“She’s got a million, I hear.”

“Wanter know—merried?”

“No; just an old maid.”

“Judas Priest! Howd she git it?”

“Writin’, I ‘spoze. She writes love stories and sich for city papers. Some on ‘em makes a lot.”

It is not always cheering to overhear too much. When some of my friends, whom I had taken to a favorite junk shop, felt after two hours of purchase and exploration that they must not keep me waiting any longer, the man, in his eagerness to make a few more sales, exclaimed: “Let her wait; her time ain’t wuth nothin’!”

At an auction last summer, one man told me of a very venerable lantern, an heirloom in his first wife’s family, so long, measuring nearly a yard with his hands. I said I should like to go with him to see it, as I was making a collection of lanterns. He looked rather dazed, and as I turned away he inquired of my friend “if I wusn’t rather—” She never allowed him to finish, and his lantern is now mine.

People seem to have but little sentiment about their associations with furniture long in the family.

The family and a few intimate friends usually sit at the upper windows gazing curiously on the crowd, with no evidence of feeling or pathetic recollections.

I lately heard a daughter say less than a month after her father’s death, pointing to a small cretonne-covered lounge: “Father made me that lounge with his own hands when I’s a little girl. He tho’t a sight on’t it, and allers kep’ it ’round. But my house is full now. I ain’t got no room for’t.” It sold for twelve cents!

Arthur Helps says that human nature craves, nay enjoys, tragedy; and when away from dramatic representation of crime and horrors and sudden death, as in this quiet country life, the people gratify their needs in the sorrows, sins, and calamities that befall their neighbors.

I strongly incline to Hawthorne’s idea that furniture becomes magnetized, permeated, semi-vitalized, so that the chairs, sofas, and tables that have outlived their dear owners in my own family have almost a sacred value to me.

Still, why moralize. Estates must be settled, and auctions are a blessing in disguise.

Of course, buying so much by substitutes, I amassed a lot of curious things, of which I did not know the use or value, and therefore greatly enjoyed the experience of the Spectator as given in the Christian Union.

He attended an auction with the following result: “A long table was covered with china, earthenware, and glass; and the mantel beyond, a narrow shelf quite near the ceiling, glittered with a tangled maze of clean brass candlesticks, steel snuffers, and plated trays. At one end dangled a huge warming pan, and on the wall near it hung a bit of canvas in a gilded frame, from which the portrait had as utterly faded as he whom it represented had vanished into thin air. It was a strange place, a room from which many a colonial citizen had passed to take a stroll upon the village street; and here, in sad confusion to be sure, the dishes that graced his breakfast table. The Spectator could have lingered there if alone for half a day, but not willingly for half an hour in such a crowd. The crowd, however, closed every exit and he had to submit. A possible chance to secure some odd bit was his only consolation. Why the good old soul who last occupied the house, and who was born in it fourscore years ago, should necessarily have had only her grandmother’s tableware, why every generation of this family should have suffered no losses by breakage, was not asked. Every bit, even to baking-powder prizes of green and greasy glass, antedated the Revolution, and the wise and mighty of Smalltown knew no better. A bit of egg shell sticking to a cracked teacup was stolen as a relic of Washington’s last breakfast in Smalltown.

“While willow-pattern china was passing into other hands the Spectator made a discovery. A curious piece of polished, crooked mahogany was seen lying between soup tureens and gravy boats. He picked it up cautiously, fearing to attract attention, and, with one eye everywhere else, scanned it closely. What a curious paper-knife! he thought, and slyly tucked it back of a pile of plates. This must be kept track of; it may prove a veritable prize. But all his care went for naught. A curious old lady at his elbow had seen every action. ‘What is it?’ she asked, and the wooden wonder was brought to light. ‘It’s an old-fashioned wooden butter knife. I’ve seen ‘em ‘afore this. Don’t you know in old times it wasn’t everybody as had silver, and mahogany knives for butter was put on the table for big folks. We folks each used our own knife.’ All this was dribbled into the Spectator’s willing ears, and have the relic he would at any cost. Time and again he nervously turned it over to be sure that it was on the table, and so excited another’s curiosity. ‘What is it?’ a second and still older lady asked. ‘A colonial butter knife,’ the Spectator replied with an air of much antiquarian lore. ‘A butter knife! No such thing. My grandfather had one just like this, and it’s a pruning knife. He wouldn’t use a steel knife because it poisoned the sap.’ What next? Paper knife, butter knife, and pruning knife! At all events every new name added a dollar to its value, and the Spectator wondered what the crowd would say, for now it was in the auctioneer’s hands. He looked at it with a puzzled expression and merely cried: ‘What is bid for this?’ His ignorance was encouraging. It started at a dime and the Spectator secured it for a quarter. For a moment he little wondered at the fascination of public sales. The past was forgiven, for now luck had turned and he gloried in the possession of a prize.

“To seek the outer world was a perilous undertaking for fear that the triply-named knife might come to grief; but a snug harbor was reached at last, and hugging the precious bit, the Spectator mysteriously disappeared on reaching his home. No one must know of his success until the mystery was cleaned, brightened, and restored to pristine beauty. The Spectator rubbed the gummy surface with kerosene, and then polished it with flannel. Then warm water and a tooth brush were brought into play, and the oil all removed. Then a long dry polishing, and the restoration was complete. Certainly no other Smalltowner had such a wooden knife; and it was indeed beautiful. Black in a cross light, red in direct light, and kaleidoscopic by gaslight. Ah, such a prize! The family knew that something strange was transpiring, but what no one had an inkling. They must wait patiently, and they did. The Spectator proudly appeared, his prize in hand. ‘See there!’ he cried in triumph, and they all looked eagerly; and when the Spectator’s pride was soaring at its highest, a younger daughter cried, ‘Why, papa, it’s the back of a hair-brush!’ And it was.”

An auctioneer usually tries to be off-hand, waggish, and brisk—a cross between a street peddler and a circus clown, with a hint of the forced mirth of the after-dinner speaker. Occasionally the jokes are good and the answers from the audience show the ready Yankee wit.

Once an exceedingly fat man, too obese to descend from his high wagon, bought an immense dinner bell and he was hit unmercifully. A rusty old fly-catcher elicited many remarks—as “no flies on that.” I bought several chests, half full of rubbish, but found, alas! no hidden treasure, no missing jewels, no money hid away by miserly fingers and forgotten. Jake Corey, who was doing some work for me, encouraged me to hope. He said: “I hear ye patronize auctions putty reg’lar; sometimes there is a good deal to be made that way, and then ag’in there isn’t. I never had no luck that way, but it’s like getting married, it’s a lottery! Folks git queer and put money in some spot, where they’re apt to forgit all about it. Now I knew a man who bought an old hat and a sight of other stuff; jest threw in the hat. And when he got home and come to examine it ef thar warn’t three hundred dollars in good bills, chucked in under the sweater!”

“You ought to git over to Mason’s auction to Milldon, sure. It’s day after to-morrow at nine sharp. You see he’d a fortune left him, but he run straight through it buying the goldarndest things you ever heerd tell on—calves with six legs, dogs with three eyes or two tails, steers that could be druv most as well as hosses (Barnum he got hold o’ ‘em and tuk ‘em round with his show); all sorts o’ curious fowl and every outlandish critter he could lay his hands on. ‘T stands to reason he couldn’t run that rig many years. Your goin’s on here made me think o’ Mason. He cut a wide swath for a time.

“Wall, I hope you’ll come off better’n he did. He sunk such a pile that he got discouraged and took to drink; then his wife, a mighty likely woman she is (one o’ the Batchelders of Dull Corner), couldn’t stand it and went back to her old home, and he died ragged and friendless about a month ago. Ef I’s you, I’d go over, just to take warning and hold up in time.”



“And you know this Deacon Elkins to be a thoroughly reliable man in every respect?”

“Indeed, I do,” said honest Nathan Robbins. “He is the very soul of honor; couldn’t do a mean thing. I’d trust him with all I have.”

“Well, I’m glad to hear this, for I’m just going to buy a horse of him.”

“A horse?”

“Yes—a horse!”

“Then I don’t know anything about him!”


After furnishing my house in the aforesaid economical and nondescript fashion, came the trials of “planting time.” This was such an unfragrant and expensive period that I pass over it as briefly as possible. I saw it was necessary in conformity with the appalling situation to alter one vowel in my Manorial Hall. The haul altogether amounted to eighteen loads besides a hundred bags of vilely smelling fertilizers. Agents for every kind of phosphates crowded around me, descanting on the needs of the old land, until I began to comprehend what the owner meant by “keeping it up.” With Gail Hamilton, I had supposed the entire land of this earth to be pretty much the same age until I adopted the “abandoned.” This I found was fairly senile in its worthless decrepitude.

My expenditure was something prodigious.

Yes, “planting time” was a nightmare in broad daylight, but as I look back, it seems a rosy dream, compared with the prolonged agonies of buying a horse!

All my friends said I must have a horse to truly enjoy the country, and it seemed a simple matter to procure an animal for my own use.

Livery-stable keepers, complaisant and cordial, were continually driving around the corner into my yard, with a tremendous flourish and style, chirking up old by-gones, drawing newly painted buggies, patched-up phaetons, two-seated second-hand “Democrats,” high wagons, low chaises, just for me to try. They all said that seeing I was a lady and had just come among ‘em, they would trade easy and treat me well. Each mentioned the real value, and a much lower price, at which I, as a special favor, could secure the entire rig. Their prices were all abominably exorbitant, so I decided to hire for a season. The dozen beasts tried in two months, if placed in a row, would cure the worst case of melancholia. Some shied; others were liable to be overcome by “blind staggers”; three had the epizootic badly, and longed to lie down; one was nearly blind. At last I was told of a lady who desired to leave her pet horse and Sargent buggy in some country home during her three months’ trip abroad.

Both were so highly praised as just the thing that I took them on faith.

I judge that a woman can lie worse than a man about a horse!

“You will love my Nellie” she wrote. “I hate to part with her, even for the summer. She has been a famous racer in Canada—can travel easily twenty-five miles a day. Will go better at the end of the journey than at the beginning. I hear you are an accomplished driver, so I send my pet to your care without anxiety.”

I sent a man to her home to drive out with this delightful treasure, and pictured myself taking long and daily drives over our excellent country roads. Nellie, dear Nellie; I loved her already. How I would pet her, and how fond she would become of me. Two lumps of sugar at least, every day for her, and red ribbons for the whip. How she would dash along! A horse for me at last! About 1.45 A.M., of the next day, a carriage was heard slowly entering the yard. I could hardly wait until morning to gloat over my gentle racer! At early dawn I visited the stable and found John disgusted beyond measure with my bargain. A worn-out, tumble-down, rickety carriage with wobbling wheels, and an equally worn-out, thin, dejected, venerable animal, with an immense blood spavin on left hind leg, recently blistered! It took three weeks of constant doctoring, investment in Kendall’s Spavin Cure, and consultation with an expensive veterinary surgeon, to get the whilom race horse into a condition to slowly walk to market. I understood now the force of the one truthful clause—”She will go better at the end of the drive than at the beginning,” for it was well-nigh impossible to get her stiff legs started without a fire kindled under them and a measure of oats held enticingly before her. It was enraging, but nothing to after experiences. All the disappointed livery men, their complaisance and cordiality, wholly a thing of the past, were jubilant that I had been so imposed upon by some one, even if they had failed. And their looks, as they wheeled rapidly by me, as I crept along with the poor, suffering, limping “Nellie,” were almost more than I could endure.

Horses were again brought for inspection, and there was a repetition of previous horrors. At last a man came from Mossgrown. He had an honest face; he knew of a man who knew of a man whose brother had just the horse for me, “sound, stylish, kind, gentle as a lamb, fast as the wind.” Profiting by experience, I said I would look at it. Next day, a young man, gawky and seemingly unsophisticated, brought the animal. It looked well enough, and I was so tired. He was anxious to sell, but only because he was going to be married and go West; needed money. And he said with sweet simplicity: “Now I ain’t no jockey, I ain’t! You needn’t be afeard of me—I say just what I mean. I want spot cash, I do, and you can have horse, carriage, and harness for $125 down.” He gave me a short drive, and we did go “like the wind.” I thought the steed very hard to hold in, but he convinced me that it was not so. I decided to take the creature a week on trial, which was a blow to that guileless young man. And that very afternoon I started for the long, pleasant drive I had been dreaming about since early spring.

The horse looked quiet enough, but I concluded to take my German domestic along for extra safety. I remembered his drawling direction, “Doan’t pull up the reins unless you want him to go pretty lively,” so held the reins rather loosely for a moment only, for this last hope wheeled round the corner as if possessed, and after trotting, then breaking, then darting madly from side to side, started into a full run. I pulled with all my might; Gusta stood up and helped. No avail. On we rushed to sudden death. No one in sight anywhere. With one Herculean effort, bred of the wildest despair, we managed to rein him in at a sharp right angle, and we succeeded in calming his fury, and tied the panting, trembling fiend to a post. Then Gusta mounted guard while I walked home in the heat and dirt, fully half a mile to summon John.

I learned that that horse had never before been driven by a woman. He evidently was not pleased.

Soon the following appeared among the local items of interest in the Gooseville Clarion:

Uriel Snooks, who has been working in the cheese factory at Frogville, is now to preside over chair number four in Baldwin’s Tonsorial Establishment on Main Street.

Kate Sanborn is trying another horse.

These bits of information in the papers were a boon to the various reporters, but most annoying to me. The Bungtown Gazetteer announced that “a well-known Boston poetess had purchased the Britton Farm, and was fitting up the old homestead for city boarders!” I couldn’t import a few hens, invest in a new dog, or order a lawn mower, but a full account would grace the next issue of all the weeklies. I sympathized with the old woman who exclaimed in desperation:

“Great Jerusalem, ca’nt I stir,

Without a-raisin’ some feller’s fur?”

At last I suspected the itinerant butcher of doing double duty as a reporter, and found that he “was engaged by several editors to pick up bits of news for the press” as he went his daily rounds. “But this,” I exclaimed, “is just what I don’t want and can’t allow. Now if you should drive in here some day and discover me dead, reclining against yonder noble elm, or stark at its base, surrounded by my various pets, don’t allude to it in the most indirect way. I prefer the funeral to be strictly private. Moreover, if I notice another ‘item’ about me, I’ll buy of your rival.” And the trouble ceased.

But the horses! Still they came and went. I used to pay my friend the rubicund surgeon to test some of these highly recommended animals in a short drive with me.

One pronounced absolutely unrivaled was discovered by my wise mentor to be “watch-eyed,” “rat-tailed,” with a swollen gland on the neck, would shy at a stone, stand on hind legs for a train, with various other minor defects. I grew fainthearted, discouraged, cynical, bitter. Was there no horse for me? I became town-talk as “a drefful fussy old maid who didn’t know her own mind, and couldn’t be suited no way.”

I remember one horse brought by a butcher from West Bungtown. It was, in the vernacular, a buck-skin. Hide-bound, with ribs so prominent they suggested a wash-board. The two fore legs were well bent out at the knees; both hind legs were swelled near the hoofs. His ears nearly as large as a donkey’s; one eye covered with a cataract, the other deeply sunken. A Roman nose, accentuated by a wide stripe, aided the pensive expression of his drooping under lip. He leaned against the shafts as if he were tired.

“There, Marm,” said the owner, eying my face as an amused expression stole over it; “ef you don’t care for style, ef ye want a good, steddy critter, and a critter that cango, and a critter that any lady can drive, there’s the critter for ye!”

I did buy at last, for life had become a burden. An interested neighbor (who really pitied me?) induced me to buy a pretty little black horse. I named him “O.K.”

After a week I changed to “N.G.”

After he had run away, and no one would buy him, “D.B.”

At last I succeeded in exchanging this shying and dangerous creature for a melancholy, overworked mare at a livery stable. I hear that “D.B.” has since killed two I-talians by throwing them out when not sufficiently inebriated to fall against rocks with safety.

And my latest venture is a backer.

Horses have just as many disagreeable traits, just as much individuality in their badness, as human beings. Under kind treatment, daily petting, and generous feeding, “Dolly” is too frisky and headstrong for a lady to drive.

“Sell that treacherous beast at once or you will be killed,” writes an anxious friend who had a slight acquaintance with her moods.

I want now to find an equine reliance whose motto is “Nulla vestigia retrorsum,” or “No steps backward.”

I have pasted Mr. Hale’s famous motto, “Look forward and not back,” over her stall—but with no effect. The “Lend a Hand” applies to those we yell for when the backing is going on.

By the way, a witty woman said the other day that men always had the advantage. A woman looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt; Bellamy looked back and made sixty thousand dollars.

Mr. Robert B. Roosevelt, in his amusing book “Five Acres too Much” gives even a more tragic picture, saying: “My experience of horseflesh has been various and instructive. I have been thrown over their heads and slid over their tails; have been dragged by saddle, stirrups, and tossed out of wagons. I have had them to back and to kick, to run and to bolt, to stand on their hind feet and kick with their front, and then reciprocate by standing on their front and kicking with their hind feet…. I have been thrown much with horses and more by them.”

“Horses are the most miserable creatures, invariably doing precisely what they ought not to do; a pest, a nuisance, a bore.” Or, as some one else puts it:

“A horse at its best is an amiable idiot; at its worst, a dangerous maniac.”



“All were loved and all were regretted, but life is made up of forgetting.”

“The best thing which a man possesses is his dog.”

When I saw a man driving into my yard after this, I would dart out of a back door and flee to sweet communion with my cows.

On one such occasion I shouted back that I did not want a horse of any variety, could not engage any fruit trees, did not want the place photographed, and was just going out to spend the day. I was courteously but firmly informed that my latest visitor had, singular to relate, no horse to dispose of, but he “would like fourteen dollars for my dog tax for the current year!” As he was also sheriff, constable, and justice of the peace, I did not think it worth while to argue the question, although I had no more thought of being called up to pay a dog tax than a hen tax or cat tax. I trembled, lest I should be obliged to enumerate my entire menagerie—cats, dogs, canaries, rabbits, pigs, ducks, geese, hens, turkeys, pigeons, peacocks, cows, and horses.

Each kind deserves an entire chapter, and how easy it would be to write of cats and their admirers from Cambyses to Warner; of dogs and their friends from Ulysses to Bismarck. I agree with Ik Marvel that a cat is like a politician, sly and diplomatic; purring—for food; and affectionate—for a consideration; really caring nothing for friendship and devotion, except as means to an end. Those who write books and articles and verse and prose tributes to cats think very differently, but the cats I have met have been of this type.

And dogs. Are they really so affectionate, or are they also a little shrewd in licking the hand that feeds them? I dislike to be pessimistic. But when my dogs come bounding to meet me for a jolly morning greeting they do seem expectant and hungry rather than affectionate. At other hours of the day they plead with loving eyes and wagging tails for a walk or a seat in the carriage or permission to follow the wagon.

But I will not analyze their motives. They fill the house and grounds with life and frolic, and a farm would be incomplete if they were missing. Hamerton, in speaking of the one dog, the special pet and dear companion of one’s youth, observes that “the comparative shortness of the lives of dogs is the only imperfection in the relation between them and us. If they had lived to three-score and ten, man and dog might have traveled through life together, but, as it is, we must either have a succession of affections, or else, when the first is buried in its early grave, live in a chill condition of dog-less-ness.”

I thank him for that expressive compound word. Almost every one might, like Grace Greenwood and Gautier, write a History of my Pets and make a readable book. Carlyle, the grand old growler, was actually attached to a little white dog—his wife’s special delight, for whom she used to write cute little notes to the master. And when he met with a fatal accident, he was tenderly nursed by both for months, and when the doctor was at last obliged to put him out of pain by prussic acid, their grief was sincere. They buried him at the top of the garden in Cheyne Row, and planted cowslips round his grave, and his mistress placed a stone tablet, with name and date, to mark the last resting place of her blessed dog.

“I could not have believed,” writes Carlyle in the Memorials, “my grief then and since would have been the twentieth part of what it was—nay, that the want of him would have been to me other than a riddance. Our last midnight walk together (for he insisted on trying to come), January 31st, is still painful to my thought. Little dim, white speck of life, of love, of fidelity, girdled by the darkness of night eternal.”

Beecher said many a good thing about dogs, but I like this best: Speaking of horseback riding, he incidentally remarked that in evolution, the human door was just shut upon the horse, but the dog got fully up before the door was shut. If there was not reason, mirthfulness, love, honor, and fidelity in a dog, he did not know where to look for it. Oh, if they only could speak, what wise and humorous and sarcastic things they would say! Did you never feel snubbed by an immense dog you had tried to patronize? And I have seen many a dog smile. Bayard Taylor says: “I know of nothing more moving, indeed semi-tragic, than the yearning helplessness in the face of a dog, who understands what is said to him, and can not answer!”

Dr. Holland wrote a poem to his dog Blanco, “his dear, dumb friend,” in which he expresses what we all have felt many times.

I look into your great brown eyes,

Where love and loyal homage shine,

And wonder where the difference lies

Between your soul and mine.

The whole poem is one of the best things Holland ever did in rhyme. He was ambitious to be remembered as a poet, but he never excelled in verse unless he had something to express that was very near his heart. He was emphatically the Apostle of Common Sense. How beautifully he closes his loving tribute—

Ah, Blanco, did I worship God

As truly as you worship me,

Or follow where my Master trod

With your humility,

Did I sit fondly at his feet

As you, dear Blanco, sit at mine,

And watch him with a love as sweet,

My life would grow divine!

Almost all our great men have more than one dog in their homes. When I spent a day with the Quaker poet at Danvers, I found he had three dogs. Roger Williams, a fine Newfoundland, stood on the piazza with the questioning, patronizing air of a dignified host; a bright-faced Scotch terrier, Charles Dickens, peered at us from the window, as if glad of a little excitement; while Carl, the graceful greyhound, was indolently coiled up on a shawl and took little notice of us.

Whittier has also a pet cow, favorite and favored, which puts up her handsome head for an expected caress. The kindly hearted old poet, so full of tenderness for all created things, told me that years when nuts were scarce he would put beech nuts and acorns here and there as he walked over his farm, to cheer the squirrels by an unexpected find.

Miss Mitford’s tribute to her defunct doggie shows to what a degree of imbecility an old maid may carry fondness for her pets, but it is pathetically amusing.

“My own darling Mossy’s hair, cut off after he was dead by dear Drum, August 22, 1819. He was the greatest darling that ever lived (son of Maria and Mr. Webb’s ‘Ruler,’ a famous dog given him by Lord Rivers), and was, when he died, about seven or eight years old. He was a large black dog, of the largest and strongest kind of greyhounds; very fast and honest, and resolute past example; an excellent killer of hares, and a most magnificent and noble-looking creature. His coat was of the finest and most glossy black, with no white, except a very little under his feet (pretty white shoe linings I used to call them)—a little beautiful white spot, quite small, in the very middle of his neck, between his chin and his breast—and a white mark on his bosom. His face was singularly beautiful; the finest black eyes, very bright, and yet sweet, and fond, and tender—eyes that seemed to speak; a beautiful, complacent mouth, which used sometimes to show one of the long white teeth at the side; a jet black nose; a brow which was bent and flexible, like Mr. Fox’s, and gave great sweetness and expression, and a look of thought to his dear face. There never was such a dog! His temper was, beyond comparison, the sweetest ever known. Nobody ever saw him out of humor. And his sagacity was equal to his temper. Thank God, he went off without suffering. He must have died in a moment. I thought I should have broken my heart when I came home and found what had happened. I shall miss him every moment of my life; I have missed him every instant to-day—so have Drum and Granny. He was laid out last night in the stable, and this morning we buried him in the middle plantation on the house side of the fence, in the flowery corner, between the fence and Lord Shrewsbury’s fields. We covered his dear body with flowers; every flower in the garden. Everybody loved him; ‘dear saint,’ as I used to call him, and as I do not doubt he now is!! No human being was ever so faithful, so gentle, so generous, and so fond! I shall never love anything half so well.

“It will always be pleasant to me to remember that I never teased him by petting other things, and that everything I had he shared. He always ate half my breakfast, and the very day before he died I fed him all the morning with filberts.” (There may have been a connection between the filberts and the funeral.)

“While I had him, I was always sure of having one who would love me alike in riches or poverty, who always looked at me with looks of the fondest love, always faithful and always kind. To think of him was a talisman against vexing thoughts. A thousand times I have said, ‘I want my Mossy,’ when that dear Mossy was close by and would put his dear black nose under my hand on hearing his name. God bless you, my Mossy! I cried when you died, and I can hardly help crying whenever I think of you. All who loved me loved Mossy. He had the most perfect confidence in me—always came to me for protection against any one who threatened him, and, thank God, always found it. I value all things he had lately or ever touched; even the old quilt that used to be spread on my bed for him to lie on, and which we called Mossy’s quilt; and the pan that he used to drink out of in the parlor, and which was always called Mossy’s pan, dear darling!

“I forgot to say that his breath was always sweet and balmy; his coat always glossy like satin; and he never had any disease or anything to make him disagreeable in his life. Many other things I have omitted; and so I should if I were to write a whole volume of his praise; for he was above all praise, sweet angel! I have inclosed some of his hair, cut off by papa after his death, and some of the hay on which he was laid out. He died Saturday, the 21st of August, 1819, at Bertram House. Heaven bless him, beloved angel!”

It is as sad as true that great natures are solitary, and therefore doubly value the affections of their pets.

Southey wrote a most interesting biography of the cats of Greta Hall, and on the demise of one wrote to an old friend: “Alas! Grosvenor, this day poor old Rumpel was found dead, after as long and as happy a life as cat could wish for—if cats form wishes on that subject. There should be a court mourning in Cat-land, and if the Dragon wear a black ribbon round his neck, or a band of crape, à la militaire, round one of the fore paws, it will be but a becoming mark of respect. As we have not catacombs here, he is to be decently interred in the orchard and catnip planted on his grave.”

And so closes this catalogue of Southey’s “Cattery.”

But, hark! my cats are mewing, dogs all calling for me—no—for dinner! After all, what is the highest civilization but a thin veneer over natural appetites? What would a club be without its chefs, a social affair without refreshment, a man without his dinner, a woman without her tea? Come to think of it, I’m hungry myself!



If every hen should only raise five broods yearly of ten each, and there were ten hens to start with, at the end of two years they would number 344,760, after the superfluous roosters were sold; and then, supposing the extra eggs to have paid for their keeping and the produce to be worth only a dollar and a half a pair, there would be a clear profit of $258,520. Allowing for occasional deaths, this sum might be stated in round numbers at a quarter of a million, which would be a liberal increase from ten hens. Of course I did not expect to do as well as this, but merely mention what might be done with good luck and forcing.


Having always heard, on the best authority, that there was “money in hens,” I invested largely in prize fowls secured at State fairs and large poultry shows, buying as many kinds as possible to make an effective and brilliant display in their “runs.”

There is a good deal of money in my hens—how to get it back is the present problem. These hens were all heralded as famous layers; several did lay in the traveling coops on the journey, great pinky-brown beauties, just to show what they could do if they chose, then stopped suddenly. I wrote anxiously to former owners of this vaunted stock to explain such disappointing behavior. Some guessed the hens were just moulting, others thought “may be they were broody”; a few had the frankness to agree with me that it was mighty curious, but hens always were “sorter contrary critters.”

Their appetites remained normal, but, as the little girl said of her pet bantam, they only lay about doing nothing. And when guests desired some of my fine fresh eggs boiled for breakfast, I used to go secretly to a neighbor and buy a dozen, but never gave away the mortifying situation.

Seeing piles of ducks’ eggs in a farmer’s barn, all packed for market, and picturing the producers, thirty white Pekins, a snowy, self-supporting fleet on my reformed lakelet, I bought the whole lot, and for long weary months they were fed and pampered and coaxed and reasoned with, shut up, let out, kept on the water, forbidden to go to it, but not one egg to be seen!

It was considered a rich joke in that locality that a city woman who was trying to farm, had applied for these ducks just as they had completed their labors for the season of 1888-’90; they were also extremely venerable, and the reticent owner rejoiced to be relieved of an expensive burden at good rates. Knowing nothing of these facts in natural history, I pondered deeply over the double phenomenon. I said the hens seemed normal only as to appetite; the ducks proved abnormal in this respect. They were always coming up to the back door, clamoring for food—always unappeased. They preferred cake, fresh bread, hot boiled potatoes, doted on tender bits of meat, but would gobble up anything and everything, more voracious and less fastidious than the ordinary hog of commerce. Bags of corn were consumed in a flash, “shorts” were never long before their eager gaze, they went for every kind of nourishment provided for the rest of the menagerie. A goat is supposed to have a champion appetite and digestion, but a duck—at least one of my ducks—leaves a goat so far behind that he never could regain his reputation for omniverosity. They were too antique to be eaten themselves—their longevity entitled them to respect; they could not be disposed of by the shrewdest market man to the least particular of boarding-house providers; I could only regard them with amazement and horror and let them go on eating me out of house and home and purse-strings.

But at last I knew. I asked an honest man from afar, who called to sell something, why those ducks would not lay a single egg. He looked at them critically and wrote to me the next day:

“DEAR MADAM: The reason your ducks won’t lay is because they’re too old to live and the bigest part of ‘em is drakes.



I hear that there are more ducks in the Chinese Empire than in all the world outside of it. They are kept by the Celestials on every farm, on the private and public roads, on streets of cities, and on all the lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, and brooks in the country. That is the secret of their lack of progress. What time have they to advance after the ducks are fed and cared for? No male inhabitant could ever squeeze out a leisure half-hour to visit a barber, hence their long queues.

About this time the statement of Mr. Crankin, of North Yeaston, Rhode Island, that he makes a clear and easy profit of five dollars and twenty cents per hen each year, and nearly forty-four dollars to every duck, and might have increased said profit if he had hatched, rather than sold, seventy-two dozen eggs, struck me as wildly apocryphal. Also that caring for said hens and ducks was merely an incident of his day’s work on the large farm, he working with his laborers. Heart-sick and indignant, contrasting his rosy success with my leaden-hued failure, I decided to give all my ducks away, as they wouldn’t, couldn’t drown, and there would be no use in killing them. But no one wanted them! And everybody smiled quizzically when I proposed the gift.

Just then, as if in direct sarcasm, a friend sent me a paper with an item marked to the effect that a poor young girl had three ducks’ eggs given her as the basis of a solid fortune, and actually cleared one hundred and eighteen dollars from those three eggs the first year.

Another woman solemnly asserts in print a profit of $448.69 from one hundred hens each year.

The census man told me of a woman who had only eighteen hens. They gave her sixteen hundred and ninety eggs, of which she sold eighteen dollars’ worth, leaving plenty for household use.

And my hens and my ducks! In my despair I drove a long way to consult a “duck man.” He looked like the typical Brother Jonathan, only with a longer beard, and his face was haggard, unkempt, anxious. He could scarcely stop to converse, evidently grudged the time, devotes his entire energies from dawn to twilight to slaving for his eight hundred ducklings. He also kept an incubator going all the time.

“Do ducks pay you?” I asked.

“Wall, I’m gettin’ to be somewhat of a bigotist,” he said; “I barely git a livin’.”

“Why Mr. Crankin—” I began.

The name roused his jealous ire, and his voice, a low mumble before, now burst into a loud roar. “Yes, Crankin makes money, has a sight o’ incubators, makes ‘em himself, sells a lot, but some say they don’t act like his do when they git off his place; most on ‘em seem possessed, but Crankin, he can manage ‘em and makes money too.”

“Do your ducks lay much?”

“Lay! I don’t want ‘em to lay! Sell ‘em all out at nine weeks, ‘fore the pin feathers come; then they’re good eatin’—for them as likes ‘em. I’ve heard of yure old lot. Kill ‘em, I say, and start new!”

“Crankin says—”

“I don’t care nothing what Crankin says” (here the voice would have filled a cathedral), “I tell ye; me and Crankin’s two different critters!”

So I felt; but it would not do to give up. I purchased an expensive incubator and brooder—needn’t have bought a brooder. I put into the incubator at a time when eggs were scarce and high priced, two hundred eggs—hens’ eggs, ducks’ eggs, goose eggs. The temperature must be kept from 102° to 104°. The lamps blazed up a little on the first day, but after that we kept the heat exactly right by daily watching and night vigils. It engrossed most of the time of four able-bodied victims.

Nothing ever was developed. The eggs were probably cooked that first day!

Now I’m vainly seeking for a purchaser for my I. and B. Terms of sale very reasonable. Great reduction from original price; shall no doubt be forced to give them away to banish painful recollections.

I also invested in turkeys, geese, and peacocks, and a pair of guinea hens to keep hawks away.

For long weary months the geese seemed the only fowls truly at home on my farm. They did their level best. Satisfied that my hens would neither lay nor set, I sent to noted poultry fanciers for “settings” of eggs at three dollars per thirteen, then paid a friendly “hen woman” for assisting in the mysterious evolution of said eggs into various interesting little families old enough to be brought to me.

Many and curious were the casualties befalling these young broods. Chickens are subject to all the infantile diseases of children and many more of their own, and mine were truly afflicted. Imprimis, most would not hatch; the finest Brahma eggs contained the commonest barn-yard fowls. Some stuck to the shell, some were drowned in a saucer of milk, some perished because no lard had been rubbed on their heads, others passed away discouraged by too much lard. Several ate rose bugs with fatal results; others were greedy as to gravel and agonized with distended crops till released by death. They had more “sand” than was good for them. They were raised on “Cat Hill,” and five were captured by felines, and when the remnant was brought to me they disappeared day by day in the most puzzling manner until we caught our mischievous pug, “Tiny Tim,” holding down a beautiful young Leghorn with his cruel paw and biting a piece out of her neck.

So they left me, one by one, like the illusions of youth, until there was no “survival of the fittest.”

In a ragged old barn opposite, a hen had stolen her nest and brought out seventeen vigorous chicks. I paid a large bill for the care of what might have been a splendid collection, and meekly bought that faithful old hen with her large family. It is now a wonder to me that any chickens arrive at maturity. Fowls are afflicted with parasitic wrigglers in their poor little throats. The disease is called “gapes,” because they try to open their bills for more air until a red worm in the trachea causes suffocation. This horrid red worm, called scientifically Scelorostoma syngamus, destroys annually half a million of chickens.

Dr. Crisp, of England, says it would be of truly national importance to find the means of preventing its invasion.

The unpleasant results of hens and garden contiguous, Warner has described. They are incompatible if not antagonistic. One man wisely advises: “Fence the garden in and let the chickens run, as the man divided the house with his quarrelsome wife, by taking the inside himself and giving her the outside, that she might have room according to her strength.”

Looking over the long list of diseases to which fowls are subject is dispiriting. I am glad they can’t read them, or they would have all at once, as J.K. Jerome, the witty playwright, decided he had every disease found in a medical dictionary, except housemaid’s knee. Look at this condensed list:

DISEASES OF NERVOUS SYSTEM.—1. Apoplexy. 2. Paralysis. 3. Vertigo. 4. Neuralgia. 5. Debility.


DISEASES OF LOCOMOTIVE ORGANS.—1. Rheumatism. 2. Cramp. 3. Gout. 4. Leg weakness. 5. Paralysis of legs. 6. Elephantiasis.

Next, diseases caused by parasites.

Then, injuries.

Lastly, miscellaneous.

I could add a still longer list of unclassified ills: Homesickness, fits, melancholia, corns, blindness from fighting too much, etc.

Now that I have learned to raise chickens, it is a hard and slow struggle to get any killed. I say in an off-hand manner, with assumed nonchalance: “Ellen, I want Tom to kill a rooster at once for tomorrow’s dinner, and I have an order from a friend for four more, so he must select five to-night.” Then begins the trouble. “Oh,” pleads Ellen, “don’t kill dear Dick! poor, dear Dick! That is Tom’s pet of all; so big and handsome and knows so much! He will jump up on Tom’s shoulder and eat out of his hand and come when he calls—and those big Brahmas—don’t you know how they were brought up by hand, as you might say, and they know me and hang around the door for crumbs, and that beauty of a Wyandock, you couldn’t eat him!” When the matter is decided, as the guillotining is going on, Ellen and I sit listening to the axe thuds and the death squaks, while she wrings her hands, saying: “O dearie me! What a world—the dear Lord ha’ mercy on us poor creatures! What a thing to look into, that we must kill the poor innocents to eat them. And they were so tame and cunning, and would follow me all around!” Then I tell her of the horrors of the French Revolution to distract her attention from the present crisis, and alluded to the horrors of cannibalism recently disclosed in Africa. Then I fall into a queer reverie and imagine how awful it would be if we should ever be called to submit to a race of beings as much larger than we are as we are above the fowls. I almost hear such a monster of a house-wife, fully ninety feet high, say to a servant, looking sternly and critically at me:

“That fat, white creature must be killed; just eats her old head off—will soon be too tough”—Ugh! Here Tom comes with five headless fowls. Wasn’t that a weird fancy of mine?

Truly “Me and Crankin’s two different critters.”

From the following verse, quoted from a recent poultry magazine, I conclude that I must be classed as a “chump.” As it contains the secret of success in every undertaking, it should be committed to memory by all my readers.

“Grit makes the man,

The want of it the chump.

The men who win,

Lay hold, hang on, and hump.”



“But stop,” says the courteous and prudent reader, “are there any such things as ghosts?”

“Any ghostesses!” cries Superstition, who settled long since in the country, near a church yard on a “rising ground,” “any ghostesses! Ay, man, lots on ‘em! Bushels on ‘em! Sights on ‘em! Why, there’s one as walks in our parish, reglar as the clock strikes twelve—and always the same round, over church-stile, round the corner, through the gap, into Shorts Spinney, and so along into our close, where he takes a drink at the pump—for ye see he died in liquor, and then arter he squenched hisself, wanishes into waper.

“Then there’s the ghost of old Beales, as goes o’ nights and sows tares in his neighbor’s wheat—I’ve often seed ‘em in seed time. They do say that Black Ben, the poacher, have riz, and what’s more, walked slap through all the squire’s steel traps, without springing on ‘em. And then there’s Bet Hawkey as murdered her own infant—only the poor little babby hadn’t learned to walk, and so can’t appear ag’in her.”

THOMAS HOOD, The Grimsby Ghost.

That dark little room I described as so convenient during a terrific thunderstorm or the prowling investigations of a burglar, began after a while to get mysterious and uncanny, and I disliked, nay, dreaded to enter it after dark. It was so still, so black, so empty, so chilly with a sort of supernatural chill, so silent, that imagination conjured up sounds such as I had never heard before. I had been told of an extremely old woman, a great-great-grandmother, bed-ridden, peevish, and weak-minded, who had occupied that room for nearly a score of years, apparently forgotten by fate, and left to drag out a monotonous, weary existence on not her “mattress grave” (like the poet Heine), but on an immensely thick feather bed; only a care, a burden, to her relations.

As twilight came on, I always carefully closed that door and shut the old lady in to sleep by herself. For it seemed that she was still there, still propped up in an imaginary bed, mumbling incoherently of the past, or moaning out some want, or calling for some one to bring a light, as she used to.

Once in a while, they told me, she would regain her strength suddenly and astonish the family by appearing at the door. When the grand-daughter was enjoying a Sunday night call from her “intended” it was rather embarrassing.

I said nothing to my friends about this unpleasant room. But several were susceptible to the strange influence. One thought she should not mind so much if the door swung open, and a portière concealed the gloom. So a cheerful cretonne soon was hung. Then the fancy came that the curtain stirred and swayed as if some one or something was groping feebly with ghostly or ghastly fingers behind it. And one night, when sitting late and alone over the embers of my open fire, feeling a little forlorn, I certainly heard moans coming from that direction.

It was not the wind, for, although it was late October and the breezes were sighing over summer’s departure, this sound was entirely different and distinct. Then (and what a shiver ran down my back!) I remembered hearing that a woman had been killed by falling down the steep cellar stairs, and the spot on the left side where she was found unconscious and bleeding had been pointed out to me. There, I heard it again! Was it the wraith of the aged dame or the cries of that unfortunate creature? Hush! Ellen can’t have fallen down!

I am really scared; the lamp seems to be burning dim and the last coal has gone out. Is it some restless spirit, so unhappy that it must moan out its weary plaint? I ought to be brave and go at once and look boldly down the cellar stairs and draw aside that waving portière. Oh, dear! If I only had some one to go with me and hold a light and—there it is—the third time. Courage vanished. It might be some dreadful tramp hiding and trying to drive me up-stairs, so he could get the silver, and he would gladly murder me for ten cents—

“Tom,” I cried. “Tom, come here.” But Tom, my six-footer factotum, made no response.

I could stand it no longer—the portière seemed fairly alive, and I rushed out to the kitchen where Ellen sat reading the Ledger, deep in the horrors of The Forsaken Inn. “Ellen, I’m ashamed, but I’m really frightened. I do believe somebody is in that horrid dark room, or in the cellar, and where is Tom?

“Bedad, Miss, and you’ve frightened the heart right out o’ me. It might be a ghost, for there are such things (Heaven help us!), and I’ve seen ‘em in this country and in dear old Ireland, and so has Tom.”

“You’ve seen ghosts?”

“Yes, indeed, Miss, but I’ve never spoke to any, for you’ve no right to speak to a ghost, and if you do you will surely die.” Tom now came in and soon satisfied me that there was no living thing in the darkness, so I sat down and listened to Ellen’s experiences with ghosts.

THE FORMER MRS. WILKES.—”Now this happened in New York city, Miss, in West 28th Street, and is every word true, for, my dear, I saw it with my own eyes. I went to bed, about half-past nine it was this night, and I was lying quietly in bed, looking up to the ceiling; no light on account of the mosquitoes, and Maud, the little girl I was caring for, a romping dear of seven or eight, a motherless child, had been tossing about restless like, and her arm was flung over me. All at once I saw a lady standing by the side of the bed in her night dress and looking earnestly at the child beyond me. She then came nearer, took Maud’s arm off me, and gently straightened her in bed, then stroked her face, both cheeks—fondly, you know—and then stood and looked at the child. I said not a word, but I wasn’t one bit afraid for I thought it was a living lady. I could tell the color of her eyes and hair and just how she looked every way. In the morning I described her to Mrs. Wilkes, and asked, ‘Is there any strange lady in the house?’ ‘No, Ellen. Why?’ she said. Then I said: ‘Why, there certainly was a pleasant-looking lady in my room last night, in her night dress, and she patted Maud as if she thought a sight of her.’

“‘Why,’ said my mistress, ‘that is surely the former Mrs. Wilkes!’

“She said that the older daughter had seen her several times standing before her glass, fixing her hair and looking at herself, but if she spoke to her or tried to speak, her mother would take up something and shake it at her. And once when we were going up-stairs together Alice screamed, and said that her mother was at the top of the stairs and blew her cold breath right down on her. The stepmother started to give her her slipper, but the father pitied her and would not allow her to be whipped, and said ‘I’ll go up to bed with you, Alice.’”

“Did you ever see the lady in white again, Ellen?”

“Never, Ma’am, nor did I ever see any other ghost in this country that I was sure was a ghost, but—Ireland, dear old Ireland, oh, that’s an ancient land, and they have both ghosts and fairies and banshees too, and many’s the story I’ve heard over there, and from my own dear mother’s lips, and she would not tell a lie (Heaven rest her soul!), and I’ve seen them myself over there, and so has Tom and his brother too, Miss. Oh, many’s the story I could tell!”

“Well, Ellen, let me have one of your own—your very best.” And I went for pencil and pad.

“And are ye going to pin down my story. Well, Miss, if ye take it just as I say, and then fix it proper to be read, they’ll like it, for people are crazy now to get the true ghost stories of dear old Ireland. O Miss, when you go over, don’t forget my native place. It has a real castle and a part of it is haunted, and the master doesn’t like to live there—only comes once a year or so, for hunting—and the rabbits there are as thick as they can be and the river chuck full of fish, but no one can touch any game, or even take out one fish, or they would be punished.”

“Yes, Ellen it’s hard, and all wrong, but we are wandering away from your ghosts, and you know I am going to take notes. So begin.”

“Well, Miss, I was a sort of companion or maid to a blind lady in my own town. I slept in a little room just across the landing from hers, so as to always be within reach of her. I was just going to bed, when she called for me to come in and see if there was something in the room—something alive, she thought, that had been hopping, hopping all around her bed, and frightened her dreadfully, poor thing, for, you remember, she was stone blind, Miss, which made it worse. So I hurried in and I shook the curtains, looked behind the bureau and under the bed, and tried everywhere for whatever might be hopping around, but could find nothing and heard not a sound. While I was there all was still. Then I went into my room again, and left the door open, as I thought Miss Lacy would feel more comfortable about it, and I was hardly in my bed when she called again and screamed out with fear, for It was hopping round the bed. She said I must go down-stairs and bring a candle. So I had to go down-stairs to the pantry all alone and get the candle. Then I searched as before, but found nothing—not a thing. Well, my dear, I went into my room and kept my candle lighted this time. The third time she called me she was standing on her pillow, shivering with fright, and begged me to bring the light. It was sad, because she was stone blind. She told me how It went hopping around the room, with its legs tied like. And after looking once more and finding nothing, she said I’d have to sleep in the bed with her and bring a chair near the bed and put the lighted candle on it. For a long time we kept awake, and watched and listened, but nothing happened, nothing appeared. We kept awake as long as we could, but at last our eyes grew very heavy, and the lady seemed to feel more easy. So I snuffed out the candle. Out It hopped and kept a jumping on one leg like from one side to the other. We were so much afraid we covered our faces; we dreaded to see It, so we hid our eyes under the sheet, and she clung on to me all shaking; she felt worse because she was blind.

“We fell asleep at daylight, and when I told Monk, the butler, he said it was a corpse, sure—a corpse whose legs had been tied to keep them straight and the cords had not been taken off, the feet not being loosened. Why my own dear mother, that’s dead many a year (Heaven bless her departed spirit!)—she would never tell a word that was not true—she saw a ghost hopping in that way, tied-like, jumping around a bed—blue as a blue bag; just after the third day she was buried, and my mother (the Lord bless her soul!) told me the sons went to her grave and loosened the cords and she never came back any more. Isn’t it awful? And, bedad, Miss, it’s every word true. I can tell you of a young man I knew who looked into a window at midnight (after he had been playing cards, Miss, gambling with the other boys) and saw something awful strange, and was turned by ghosts into a shadow.”

This seemed to be a thrilling theme, such as Hawthorne would have been able to weave into the weirdest of weird tales, and I said, “Go on.”

“Well, he used to go playing cards about three miles from his home with a lot of young men, for his mother wouldn’t have cards played in her house, and she thought it was wicked, and begged him not to play. It’s a habit with the young men of Ireland—don’t know as it’s the same in other countries—and they play for a goose or a chicken. They go to some vacant house to get away from their fathers, they’re so against it at home. Why, my brother-in-law used to go often to such a house on the side of a country road. Each man would in turn provide the candles to play by, and as this house was said to be haunted, bedad they had it all to themselves. Well, this last night that ever they played there—it was Tom’s own brother that told me this—just as they were going to deal the cards, a tall gentleman came out from a room that had been the kitchen. He walked right up to them—he was dressed in black cloth clothes, and wore a high black hat—and came right between two of the men and told them to deal out the cards. They were too frightened even to speak, so the stranger took the cards himself and dealt around to each man. And afterward he played with them; then he looked at every man in turn and walked out of the room. As soon as he cleared out of the place, the men all went away as quick as ever they could, and didn’t stop to put out the lights. Each man cleared with himself and never stopped to look behind. And no one cared to play cards in that house afterward any more. That was Tom’s own brother; and now the poor young man who was going home at midnight saw a light in one of the houses by the road, so he turned toward it, thinking to light his pipe. Just before knocking, he looked in at the window. As soon as he peeped in the light went out on him, and still he could see crowds of people, as thick as grass, just as you see ‘em at a fair—so thick they hadn’t room to stand—and they kept swaying back and forth, courtesying like. The kitchen was full, and looking through a door he saw a lot more of fine ladies and gentlemen; they were laughing and having great fun, running round the table setting out cups and saucers, just as if they were having a ball. Just then a big side-board fell over with a great crash, and all the fine people scampered away, and all was dark. So he turned away on his heel and was so frightened, his mother said, he could hardly get home from fear, and he had three whole miles to go. Next day he was thrashing corn in the barn and something upset him and pitched him head foremost across the flail. He rose, and three times he was pitched like that across the flail, so he gave up and went home. His mother asked him: ‘Johnny, what is the matter with you? You do look very bad!’ So he up and told her what had happened to him in the barn, and what he saw the night before. And he took suddenly sick and had to keep his bed for nine weeks, and when he got up and was walking around, he wasn’t himself any more, and the sister says to the mother: ‘Mother, I’m sure that it isn’t Johnny that’s there. It’s only his shadow, for when I look at him, it isn’t his features or face, but the face of another thing. He used to be so pleasant and cheerful, but now he looks like quite another man. Mother,’ said she, ‘we haven’t Johnny at all.’ Soon he got a little stronger and went to the capital town with corn. Several other men went also to get their corn ground. They were all coming home together a very cold night, and the men got up and sat on their sacks of corn. The other horses walked on all right with them, but Johnny’s horses wouldn’t move, not one step while he was on top of the load. Well, my dear, he called for the rest to come and help him—to see if the horses would go for them. But they would not move one step, though they whipped them and shouted at them to start on, for Johnny he was as heavy as lead. And he had to get down. Soon as he got down, the horses seemed glad and went off on a gallop after the rest of the train. So they all went off together, and Johnny wandered away into the bogs. His friends supposed, of course, he was coming on, thought he was walking beside his load; the snow was falling down, and perhaps they were a little afraid. He was left behind. They scoured the country for him next day, and, bedad, they found him, stiff dead, sitting against a fence. There’s where they found him. They brought him on a door to his mother. Oh, it was a sad thing to see—to see her cry and hear her mourn!”

“And what more?” I asked.

“That’s all. He was waked and buried, and that’s what he got for playing cards! And that’s all as true as ever could be true, for it’s myself knew the old mother, and she told me it her very self, and she cried many tears for her son.”



But the sheep shearing came, and the hay season next, and then the harvest of small corn … then the sweating of the apples, and the turning of the cider mill and the stacking of the firewood, and netting of the wood-cocks, and the springes to be mended in the garden and by the hedgerows, where the blackbirds hop to the molehills in the white October mornings and gray birds come to look for snails at the time when the sun is rising. It is wonderful how Time runs away when all these things, and a great many others, come in to load him down the hill, and prevent him from stopping to look about. And I, for my part, can never conceive how people who live in towns and cities, where neither lambs nor birds are (except in some shop windows), nor growing corn, nor meadow grass, nor even so much as a stick to cut, or a stile to climb and sit down upon—how these poor folk get through their lives without being utterly weary of them, and dying from pure indolence, is a thing God only knows, if his mercy allows him to think of it.


A farm-house looks on the outside like a quiet place. No men are seen about, front windows are closely shaded, front door locked. Go round to the back door; nobody seems to be at home. If by chance you do find, after long bruising of knuckles, that you have roused an inmate, it is some withered, sad-faced old dame, who is indifferent and hopelessly deaf, or a bare-footed, stupid urchin, who stares as if you had dropped from another planet, and a cool “Dunno” is the sole response to all inquiries.

All seems at a dead standstill. In reality everything and everybody is going at full speed, transpiring and perspiring to such a degree that, like a swiftly whirling top, it does not appear to move.

Friends think of me as not living, but simply existing, and marvel that I can endure such monotony. On the contrary, I live in a constant state of excitement, hurry, and necessity for immediate action.

The cows were continually getting out of pasture and into the corn; the pigs, like the chickens, evinced decided preference for the garden. The horse would break his halter and dart down the street, or, if in pasture, would leap the barbed-wire fence, at the risk of laming his legs for life, and dash into a neighbor’s yard where children and babies were sunning on the grass.

Rival butchers and bakers would drive up simultaneously from different directions and plead for patronage and instant attention.

The vegetables must be gathered and carried to market; every animal was ravenously hungry at all hours, and didn’t hesitate to speak of it. The magnificent peacock would wander off two miles, choosing the railroad track for his rambles, and loved to light on Si Evans’s barn; then a boy must be detailed to recover the prize bird, said boy depending on a reward. His modest-hued consort would seek the deep hedges back of a distant swamp.

Friends would come from a distance to surprise and cheer me in my lonely retreat just at the time that the butter must positively be made, while the flowers were choking for water, smothered with weeds, “pus’ley,” of course, pre-eminent. Then a book agent would appear, blind, but doubly persistent, with a five-dollar illustrated volume recounting minutely the Johnstown horror. And one of my dogs would be apt at this crisis to pursue and slay a chicken or poison himself with fly-paper. Every laboring man for miles around would come with an air of great importance to confidentially warn me against every other man that could be employed, with the stereotyped phrase in closing: “Well, whatever you do” (as if I might be left to do anything) “don’t hire John Smallpate or Bill Storer. I’ve known him, man and boy, for thirty years; you’ll do well not to trust him!

Yet these same men who had so villified each other could be seen nightly lounging in front of the grocery, discussing politics and spitting in sweet unison.

The general animosity of my entire family to each other caused constant interruptions.

“Sandy,” the handsome setter, loathed the pug, and tried to bite his neck in a fatal way. He also chased the rabbits, trod on young turkeys so that they were no more, drove the cat out of the barn and up a tree, barked madly at the cows, enraging those placid animals, and doted on frightening the horse.

The cat allowed mice to roam merrily through the grain bins, preferring robins and sparrows, especially young and happy mothers, to a proper diet; was fond of watching the chickens with wicked, malicious, greedy, dangerous eyes, and was always ready to make a sly spring for my canaries.

The rabbits (pretty innocent little creatures I had thought them, as I gazed at their representatives of white canton flannel, solidly stuffed, with such charming eyes of pink beads) girded all my young trees and killed them before I dreamed of such mischief, nibbled at every tender sprout, every swelling bud, were so agile that they could not be captured, and became such a maddening nuisance that I hired a boy to take them away. I fully understand the recent excitement of the Australians over the rabbit scourge which threatened to devastate their land.

The relations were strained between my cows; mother and daughter of a noble line; they always fed at opposite corners of the field, indulging in serious fights when they met.

My doves! I am almost ready to say that they were more annoying than all the rest of my motley collection, picked all seeds out of the ground faster than they could be put in, so large spaces sowed with rye lay bare all summer, and ate most of the corn and grain that was intended to fatten and stimulate my fowls.

Doves are poetical and pleasing, pigeons ditto—in literature, and at a safe distance from one’s own barn. It’s a pretty sight at sunset on a summer’s eve to see them poising, wheeling, swirling, round a neighbor’s barn. Their rainbow hues gleam brightly in the sun as they preen their feathers or gently “coo-oo, I love oo,” on the ridge pole. I always longed to own some, but now the illusion is past. They have been admired and petted for ages, consecrated as emblems of innocence and peace and sanctity, regarded as almost sacred from the earliest antiquity. They have been idealized and praised from Noah to Anacreon, both inclined to inebriety! But in reality they are a dirty, destructive, greedy lot, and though fanciers sell them at high prices, they only command twenty-five cents per pair when sold for the market!

The hens lost half their feathers, often an eye, occasionally a life, in deadly feuds. My spunky little bantam game cock was always challenging one of my monster roosters and laying him low, so he had to be sent away.

John, my eccentric assistant, could abide no possible rival, insulted every man engaged to help him, occasionally indulging in a free fight after too frequent visits to the cider barrels of my next neighbor, so he had to follow the bantam.

Another distress was the constant calls of natives with the most undesirable things for me to buy; two or three calls daily for a long time. Boys with eager, ingenuous faces bringing carrier pigeons—pretty creatures—and I had been told there was money in pigeons. I paid them extortionate prices on account of extreme ignorance; and the birds, of course, flew home as soon as released, to be bought again by some gullible amateur. I had omitted to secure the names and addresses of these guileless lads.

A sandy-haired, lisping child with chronic catarrh offered me a lot of pet rats!

“I hear you like pets,” she said, “Well, I’ve got some tame rats, a father and mother and thirteen little ones, and a mother with four. They’re orful cunning. Hope you’ll take ‘em.”

A big, red-faced, black-bearded, and determined man drove one day into the yard with an immense wagon, in which was standing a stupid, vicious old goat, and almost insisted on leaving it at a most ridiculously high price.

“Heard that the woman that had come to live here wanted most every animal that Noah got into the ark; was sure she’d like a goat.” It was with considerable difficulty that he could be induced to take it away.

Dogs, dogs, dogs—from mastiff to mongrel, from St. Bernard to toy poodle—the yard really swarmed with them just before the first of May, when dog taxes must be paid!

A crow that could talk, but rather objectionably, was offered me.

A pert little boy, surrounded by his equally pert mates, said, after coming uninvited to look over my assortment: “Got most everything, hain’t ye? Got a monkey?”

Then his satellites all giggled.

“No, not yet. Will not you come in?”

Second giggle, less hearty.

A superannuated clergyman walked three miles and a quarter in a heavy rain, minus umbrella, to bring me a large and common pitcher, badly cracked and of no original value; heard I was collecting old china. Then, after making a long call, drew out a tiny package from his vest pocket and offered for sale two time-worn cheap rings taken from his mother’s dead hand. They were mere ghosts of rings that had once meant so much of joy or sorrow, pathetic souvenirs, one would think, to a loving son. He would also sell me his late father’s old sermons for a good sum!

This reminded me of Sydney Smith’s remark to an old lady who was sorely afflicted with insomnia: “Have you ever tried one of my sermons?”

Perhaps I have said enough to prove that life in a bucolic solitude may be something more varied than is generally—don’t let that old peddler come into the house, say we want nothing, and then tell the ladies I’ll be down directly—and, O Ellen, call Tom! Those ducks are devouring his new cabbage-plants and one of the calves has got over the stone wall and—what?

“He’s gone to Dog Corner for the cow-doctor.”

—Yes, more varied than is generally supposed!



A life whose parlors have always been closed.


Sunshine is tabooed in the front room of the house. The “damp dignity” of the best-room has been well described: “Musty smells, stiffness, angles, absence of sunlight. What is there to talk about in a room dark as the Domdaniel, except where one crack in a reluctant shutter reveals a stand of wax flowers under glass, and a dimly descried hostess who evidently waits only your departure to extinguish that solitary ray?”

At a recent auction I obtained twenty-one volumes of State Agricultural Reports for seventeen cents; and what I read in them of the Advantages of Rural Pursuits, The Dignity of Labor, The Relation of Agriculture to Longevity and to Nations, and, above all, of the Golden Egg, seem decidedly florid, unpractical, misleading, and very little permanent popularity can be gained by such self-interested buncombe from these eloquent orators.

The idealized farmer, as he is depicted by these white-handed rhetoricians who, like John Paul, “would never lay hand to a plow, unless said plow should actually pursue him to a second story, and then lay hands on it only to throw it out of the window,” and the phlegmatic, overworked, horny-handed tillers of the soil are no more alike than Fenimore Cooper’s handsome, romantic, noble, and impressive red man of the forest and the actual Sioux or Apache, as regarded by the cowboy of the West.

It’s all work, with no play and no proper pay, for Western competition now prevents all chance of decent profits. Little can be laid up for old age, except by the most painful economy and daily scrimping; and how can the children consent to stay on, starving body and soul? That explains the 3,318 abandoned farms in Maine at present. And the farmers’ wives! what monotonous, treadmill lives! Constant toil with no wages, no allowance, no pocket money, no vacations, no pleasure trips to the city nearest them, little of the pleasures of correspondence; no time to write, unless a near relative is dead or dying. Some one says that their only chance for social life is in going to some insane asylum! There have been four cases of suicide in farmers’ families near me within eighteen months.

This does not apply to the fortunate farmer who inherited money and is shrewd enough to keep and increase it. Nor to the market gardener, who raises vegetables under glass; nor to the owners of large nurseries. These do make a good living, and are also able to save something.

In general, it is all one steady rush of work from March to November; unceasing, uncomplaining activity for the barest support, followed by three months of hibernation and caring for the cattle. Horace Greeley said: “If our most energetic farmers would abstract ten hours each per week from their incessant drudgery and devote them to reading and reflection in regard to their noble calling, they would live to a better purpose and bequeath better examples to their children.”

It may have been true long years ago that no shares, factory, bank, or railroad paid better dividends than the plowshare, but it is the veriest nonsense now.

Think of the New England climate in summer. Rufus Choate describes it eloquently: “Take the climate of New England in summer, hot to-day, cold to-morrow, mercury at eighty degrees in the shade in the morning, with a sultry wind southwest. In three hours more a sea turn, wind at east, a thick fog from the bottom of the ocean, and a fall of forty degrees. Now so dry as to kill all the beans in New Hampshire, then floods carrying off all the dams and bridges on the Penobscot and Androscoggin. Snow in Portsmouth in July, and the next day a man and a yoke of oxen killed by lightning in Rhode Island. You would think the world was coming to an end. But we go along. Seed time and harvest never fail. We have the early and the latter rains; the sixty days of hot corn weather are pretty sure to be measured out to us; the Indian summer, with its bland south winds and mitigated sunshine, brings all up, and about the 25th of November, being Thursday, a grateful people gather about the Thanksgiving board, with hearts full of gratitude for the blessings that have been vouchsafed to them.”

Poets love to sing of the sympathy of Nature. I think she is decidedly at odds with the farming interests of the country. At any rate, her antipathy to me was something intense and personal. That mysterious stepmother of ours was really riled by my experiments and determined to circumvent every agricultural ambition.

She detailed a bug for every root, worms to build nests on every tree, others to devour every leaf, insects to attack every flower, drought or deluge to ruin the crops, grasshoppers to finish everything that was left.

Potato bugs swooped down on my fields by tens of thousands, and when somewhat thinned in ranks by my unceasing war, would be re-enforced from a neighbor’s fields, once actually fording my lakelet to get to my precious potato patch. The number and variety of devouring pests connected with each vegetable are alarming. Here are a few connected closely with the homely cabbage, as given by a noted helminthologist under the head of “Cut-worms”:

“Granulated,” “shagreened,” “white,” “marked,” “greasy,” “glassy,” “speckled,” “variegated,” “wavy,” “striped,” “harlequin,” “imbricated,” “tarnished.” The “snout beetle” is also a deadly foe.

To realize this horror, this worse than Pharaoh plague, you must either try a season of farming or peruse octavo volumes on Insects injurious to Vegetation, fully illustrated.

In those you may gain a faint idea of the “skippers,” “stingers,” “soothsayers,” “walking sticks or specters,” “saw flies and slugs,” “boring caterpillars,” “horn-tailed wood wasps,” etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.—a never-ending list. The average absolute loss of the farmers of this country from such pests is fully one million dollars per annum.

Gail Hamilton said of her squashes:

“They appeared above-ground, large-lobed and vigorous. Large and vigorous appeared the bugs, all gleaming in green and gold, like the wolf on the fold, and stopped up all the stomata and ate up all the parenchyma, till my squash-leaves looked as if they had grown for the sole purpose of illustrating net-veined organizations. A universal bug does not indicate a special want of skill in any one.”

Not liking to crush the bug between thumb and finger as advised, she tried drowning them. She says: “The moment they touched the water they all spread unseen wings and flew away. I should not have been much more surprised to see Halicarnassus soaring over the ridge pole. I had not the slightest idea they could fly.”

Then the aphides! Exhausters of strength—vine fretters—plant destroyers! One aphis, often the progenitor of over five thousand million aphides in a single season. This seems understated, but I accept it as the aphidavit of another noted helminthologist. I might have imagined Nature had a special grudge against me if I had not recalled Emerson’s experience. He says: “With brow bent, with firm intent, I go musing in the garden walk. I stoop to pick up a weed that is choking the corn, find there were two; close behind is a third, and I reach out my arm to a fourth; behind that there are four thousand and one!

“Rose bugs and wasps appear best when flying. I admired them most when flying away from my garden.”

Horace Greeley said that “No man who harbors caterpillars has any moral right to apples.” But one sees whole orchards destroyed in this way for lack of time to attack such a big job. Farmers have been unjustly attacked by city critics who do not understand the situation. There was much fine writing last year in regard to the sin and shame of cutting down the pretty, wild growth of shrubs, vines, and flowers along the wayside, so picturesque to the summer tourist. The tangle of wild grape, clematis, and woodbine is certainly pretty, but underneath is sure to be found a luxuriant growth of thistle, wild carrot, silk weed, mullein, chickweed, tansy, and plantain, which, if allowed to seed and disseminate themselves, would soon ruin the best farms. There is a deadly foe, an army of foes, hiding under these luxuriant festoons and masses of cheerful flowers.

Isn’t it strange and sad and pitiful, that it is the summer guest who alone enjoys the delights of summering in the country? There is no time for rest, for recreation, for flowers, for outdoor pleasures, for the average farmer and his family. You seldom see any bright faces at the windows, which are seldom opened—only a glimpse here and there of a sad, haggard creature, peering out for curosity. Strange would it be to hear peals of merry laughter; stranger still to see a family enjoying a meal on the piazza or a game on the grass. As for flowers, they are valued no more than weeds; the names of the most common are unknown. I asked in vain a dozen people last summer, what that flower was called, pointing to the ubiquitous Joe Rye weed or pink motherwort. At last I asked one man, who affected to know everything—

“Oh, yes, I know it.”

“What is it?” I persisted.

“Well, I know it just as well, but can’t just now get the name out.” A pause, then, with great superiority: “I’d rather see a potato field in full bloom, than all the flowers in the world.”

Perhaps some of Tolstoi’s disciples may yet solve the problem of New England’s abandoned farms. He believes that every able-bodied man should labor with his own hands and in “the sweat of his brow” to produce his own living direct from the soil. He dignifies agriculture above all other means of earning a living, and would have artificial employments given up. “Back to the land,” he cries; and back he really goes, daily working with the peasants. But ’tis a solemn, almost tragical experience, not much better than the fate of the Siberian exile. Rise at dawn; work till dark; eat—go to bed too tired to read a paper;—and no money in it.

Let these once prosperous farms be given up to Swedish colonies, hard working and industrious, who can do better here than in their own country and have plenty of social life among themselves, or let wealthy men purchase half a dozen of these places to make a park, or two score for a hunting ground—or let unattached women of middle age occupy them and support themselves by raising poultry. Men are making handsome incomes from this business—women can do the same. The language of the poultry magazines, by the way, is equally sentimental and efflorescent with that of the speeches at agricultural fairs, sufficiently so to sicken one who has once accepted it as reliable, as for instance: “The individual must be very abnormal in his tastes if they can not be catered to by our feathered tribe.” “To their owner they are a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Their ways are interesting, their language fascinating, and their lives from the egg to the mature fowl replete with constant surprises.”[1]

Footnote 1: This clause is true.

“To simply watch them as they pass from stage to stage of development fills the mind of every sane person with pleasure.” One poultry crank insists that each hen must be so carefully studied that she can be understood and managed as an individual, and speaks of his hens having at times an “anxious nervous expression!”

“Yes, it is where the hens sing all the day long in the barn-yard that throws off the stiff ways of our modern civilization and makes us feel that we are home and can rest and play and grow young once more. How many men and women have regained lost health and spirits in keeping hens, in the excitement of finding and gathering eggs!”

“It is not the natural laying season when snows lie deep on field and hill, when the frost tingles in sparkling beads from every twig, when the clear streams bear up groups of merry skaters,” etc.

After my pathetic experience with chickens, who after a few days of downy content grew ill, and gasped until they gave up the ghost; ducklings, who progressed finely for several weeks, then turned over on their backs and flopped helplessly unto the end; or, surviving that critical period, were found in the drinking trough, “drowned, dead, because they couldn’t keep their heads above water”; turkeys who flourished to a certain age, then grew feeble and phantom-like and faded out of life, I weary of gallinaceous rhodomontade, and crave “pointers” for my actual needs.

I still read “Crankin’s” circulars with a thrill of enthusiasm because his facts are so cheering. For instance, from his latest: “We have some six thousand ducklings out now, confined in yards with wire netting eighteen inches high. The first lot went to market May 10th and netted forty cents per pound. These ducklings were ten weeks old and dressed on an average eleven pounds per pair. One pair dressed fourteen pounds.” Isn’t that better than selling milk at two and a half cents per quart? And no money can be made on vegetables unless they are raised under glass in advance of the season. I know, for did I not begin with “pie plant,” with which every market was glutted, at one cent per pound, and try the entire list, with disgustingly low prices, exposed to depressing comparison and criticism? When endeavoring to sell, one of the visiting butchers, in reply to my petition that he would buy some of my vegetables, said: “Well now, Marm, you see just how it is; I’ve got more’n I can sell now, and women keep offering more all the way along. I tell ‘em I can’t buy ‘em, but I’ll haul ‘em off for ye if ye want to get rid of ‘em!” So much for market gardening at a distance from city demands.

But ducks! Sydney Smith, at the close of his life, said he “had but one illusion left, and that was the Archbishop of Canterbury.” I still believe in Crankin and duck raising. Let me see: “One pair dressed fourteen pounds, netted forty cents per pound.” I’ll order one of Crankin’s “Monarch” incubators and begin a poultry farm anew.

Dido et dux,” and so do Boston epicures. I’ll sell at private sales, not for hotels! I used to imagine myself supplying one of the large hotels and saw on the menu:

“Tame duck and apple sauce (from the famous ‘Breezy Meadows’ farm).” But I inquired of one of the proprietors what he would give, and “fifteen cents per pound for poultry dressed and delivered” gave me a combined attack of chills and hysterics.

Think of my chickens, from those prize hens (three dollars each)—my chickens, fed on eggs hard boiled, milk, Indian meal, cracked corn, sun-flower seed, oats, buckwheat, the best of bread, selling at fifteen cents per pound, and I to pay express charges! Is there, is there any “money in hens?”

To show how a child would revel in a little rational enjoyment on a farm, read this dear little poem of James Whitcomb Riley’s:


One time when we’s at aunty’s house—

‘Way in the country—where

They’s ist but woods and pigs and cows,

An’ all’s outdoors and air!

An orchurd swing; an’ churry trees,

An’ churries in ‘em! Yes, an’ these

Here red-head birds steal all they please

An’ tech ‘em if you dare!

W’y wunst, one time when we wuz there,

We et out on the porch!

Wite where the cellar door wuz shut

The table wuz; an’ I

Let aunty set by me an’ cut

My wittles up—an’ pie.

Tuz awful funny! I could see

The red heads in the churry tree;

An’ bee-hives, where you got to be

So keerful going by;

An’ comp’ny there an’ all! An’ we—

We et out on the porch!

An’—I ist et p’surves an’ things

‘At ma don’t ‘low me to—

An’ chickun gizzurds (don’t like wings

Like parunts does, do you?)

An’ all the time the wind blowed there

An’ I could feel it in my hair,

An’ ist smell clover ever’where!

An’ a old red head flew

Purt’ nigh wite over my high chair,

When we et out on the porch!



I would rather look at a peacock than eat him. The feathers of an angel and the voice of a devil.

The story of this farm would not be complete without a brief rehearsal of my experiences, exciting, varied, and tragic, resulting from the purchase of a magnificent pair of peacocks.

My honest intention on leasing my forty-dollars-a-year paradise was simply to occupy the quaint old house for a season or two as a relief from the usual summer wanderings. I would plant nothing but a few hardy flowers of the old-fashioned kind—an economical and prolonged picnic. In this way I could easily save in three years sufficient funds to make a grand tour du monde.

That was my plan!

For some weeks I carried out this resolution, until an event occurred, which changed the entire current of thought, and transformed a quiet, rural retreat into a scene of frantic activity and gigantic undertaking.

In the early summer I attended a poultry show at Rooster, Mass., and, in a moment of impulsive enthusiasm, was so foolish as to pause and admire and long for a prize peacock, until I was fairly and hopelessly hypnotized by its brilliant plumage.

I reasoned: Anybody can keep hens, “me and Crankin” can raise ducks, geese thrive naturally with me, but a peacock is a rare and glorious possession. The proud scenes he is associated with in mythology, history, and art rushed through my mind with whirlwind rapidity as I stood debating the question. The favorite bird of Juno—she called the metallic spots on its tail the eyes of Argus—imported by Solomon to Palestine, essentially regal. Kings have used peacocks as their crests, have worn crowns of their feathers. Queens and princesses have flirted gorgeous peacock fans; the pavan, a favorite dance in the days of Louis le Grand, imitated its stately step. In the days of chivalry the most solemn oath was taken on the peacock’s body, roasted whole and adorned with its gay feathers, as Shallow swore “by cock and pie.” I saw the fairest of all the fair dames at a grand mediaeval banquet proudly bearing the bird to the table. The woman who hesitates is lost. I bought the pair, and ordered them boxed for “Breezy Meadows.”

On the arrival of the royal pair at my ‘umble home, all its surroundings began to lose the charm of rustic simplicity, and appear shabby, inappropriate, and unendurable. It became evident that the entire place must be raised, and at once, to the level of those peacocks.

The house and barn were painted (colonial yellow) without a moment’s delay. An ornamental piazza was added, all the paths were broadened and graveled, and even terraces were dreamed of, as I recalled the terraces where Lord Beaconsfield’s peacocks used to sun themselves and display their beauties—Queen Victoria now has a screen made of their feathers.

My expensive pets felt their degradation in spite of my best efforts and determined to sever their connection with such a plebeian place.

Beauty (I ought to have called him Absalom or Alcibiades), as soon as let out of his traveling box, displayed to an admiring crowd a tail so long it might be called a “serial,” gave one contemptuous glance at the premises, and departed so rapidly, by running and occasional flights, that three men and a boy were unable to catch up with him for several hours. Belle was not allowed her liberty, as we saw more trouble ahead. A large yard, inclosed top and sides with wire netting, at last restrained their roving ambition. But they were not happy. Peacocks disdain a “roost” and seek the top of some tall tree; they are also rovers by nature and hate confinement. They pined and failed, and seemed slowly dying; so I had to let them out. Total cost of peacock hunts by the boys of the village, $11.33. I found that Beauty was happy only when admiring himself, or deep in mischief. His chief delight was to mount the stone wall, and utter his raucous note, again and again, as a carriage passed, often scaring the horses into dangerous antics, and causing severe, if not profane criticism. Or he would steal slyly into a neighbor’s barn and kill half a dozen chickens at a time. He was awake every morning by four o’clock, and would announce the glories of the coming dawn by a series of ear-splitting notes, disturbing not only all my guests, but the various families within range, until complaints and petitions were sent in. He became a nuisance—but how could he be muzzled?

And he was so gloriously handsome! Visitors from town would come expressly to see him. School children would troop into my yard on Saturday afternoons, “to see the peacock spread his tail,” which he often capriciously refused to do. As soon as they departed, somewhat disappointed in “my great moral show,” Beauty would go to a large window on the ground floor of the barn and parade up and down, displaying his beauties for his own gratification. At last he fancied he saw a rival in this brilliant, irridescent reflection and pecked fiercely at the glass, breaking several panes.

Utterly selfish, he would keep all dainty bits for himself, leaving the scraps for his devoted mate, who would wait meekly to eat what he chose to leave. She made up for this wifely self-abnegation by frequenting the hen houses. She would watch patiently by the side of a hen on her nest, and as soon as an egg was deposited, would remove it for her luncheon. She liked raw eggs, and six were her usual limit.

There is a deal of something closely akin to human nature in barn-yard fowls. It was irresistibly ludicrous to see the peacock strutting about in the sunshine, his tail expanded in fullest glory, making a curious rattle of triumph as he paraded, while my large white Holland turkey gobbler, who had been molting severely and was almost denuded as to tail feathers, would attempt to emulate his display, and would follow him closely, his wattles swelling and reddening with fancied success, making all this fuss about what had been a fine array, but now was reduced to five scrubby, ragged, very dirty remnants of feathers. He fancied himself equally fine, and was therefore equally happy.

Next came the molting period.

Pliny said long ago of the peacock: “When he hath lost his taile, he hath no delight to come abroad,” but I knew nothing of this peculiarity, supposing that a peacock’s tail, once grown, was a permanent ornament. On the contrary, if a peacock should live one hundred and twenty years (and his longevity is something phenomenal) he would have one hundred and seventeen new and interesting tails—enough to start a circulating library. Yes, Beauty’s pride and mine had a sad fall as one by one the long plumes were dropped in road and field and garden. He should have been caught and confined, and the feathers, all loose at once, should have been pulled out at one big pull and saved intact for fans and dust brushes, and adornment of mirrors and fire-places. Soon every one was gone, and the mortified creature now hid away in the corn, and behind shrubbery, disappearing entirely from view, save as hunger necessitated a brief emerging.

This tailless absentee was not what I had bought as the champion prize winner. And Belle, after laying four eggs, refused to set. But I put them under a turkey, and, to console myself and re-enforce my position as an owner of peacocks, I began to study peacock lore and literature. I read once more of the throne of the greatest of all the moguls at Delhi, India.

“The under part of the canopy is embroidered with pearls and diamonds, with a fringe of pearls round about. On the top of the canopy, which is made like an arch with four panes, stands a peacock with his tail spread, consisting all of sapphires and other proper-colored stones; the body is of beaten gold enchased with several jewels, and a great ruby upon his breast, at which hangs a pearl that weighs fifty carats. On each side of the peacock stand two nosegays as high as the bird, consisting of several sorts of flowers, all of beaten gold enameled. When the king seats himself upon the throne, there is a transparent jewel with a diamond appendant, of eighty or ninety carats, encompassed with rubies and emeralds, so hung that it is always in his eye. The twelve pillars also that support the canopy are set with rows of fair pearls, round, and of an excellent water, that weigh from six to ten carats apiece. At the distance of four feet upon each side of the throne are placed two parasols or umbrellas, the handles whereof are about eight feet high, covered with diamonds; the parasols themselves are of crimson velvet, embroidered and stringed with pearls.” This is the famous throne which Tamerlane began and Shah Jahan finished, which is really reported to have cost a hundred and sixty million five hundred thousand livres (thirty-two million one hundred thousand dollars).

I also gloated over the description of that famous London dining-room, known to the art world as the “Peacock Room,” designed by Whistler. Panels to the right and left represent peacocks with their tails spread fan-wise, advancing in perspective toward the spectator, one behind the other, the peacocks in gold and the ground in blue.

I could not go so extensively into interior decoration, and my mania for making the outside of the house and the grounds highly decorative had received a severe lesson in the verdict, overheard by me, as I stood in the garden, made by a gawky country couple who were out for a Sunday drive.

As Warner once said to me, “young love in the country is a very solemn thing,” and this shy, serious pair slowed up as they passed, to see my place. The piazza was gay with hanging baskets, vines, strings of beads and bells, lanterns of all hues; there were tables, little and big, and lounging chairs and a hammock and two canaries. The brightest geraniums blossomed in small beds through the grass, and several long flower beds were one brilliant mass of bloom, while giant sun-flowers reared their golden heads the entire length of the farm.

It was gay, but I had hoped to please Beauty.

“What is that?” said the girl, straining her head out of the carriage.

“Don’t know,” said the youth, “guess it’s a store.”

The girl scrutinized the scene as a whole, and said decisively:

“No, ‘taint, Bill—it’s a saloon!”

That was a cruel blow! I forgot my flowers, walked in slowly and sadly and carried in two lanterns to store in the shed chamber. I also resolved to have no more flower beds in front of the house, star shaped or diamond—they must all be sodded over.

That opinion of my earnest efforts to effect a renaissance at Gooseville—to show how a happy farm home should look to the passer-by—in short, my struggle to “live up to” the peacocks revealed, as does a lightning flash on a dark night, much that I had not perceived. I had made as great a mistake as the farmer who abjures flowers and despises “fixin’ up.”

The pendulum of emotion swung as far back, and I almost disliked the innocent cause of my decorative folly. I began to look over my accounts, to study my check books, to do some big sums in addition, and it made me even more depressed. Result of these mental exercises as follows: Rent, $40 per year; incidental expenses to date, $5,713.85. Was there any good in this silly investment of mine? Well, if it came to the very worst, I could kill the couple and have a rare dish. Yet Horace did not think its flesh equal to an ordinary chicken. He wrote:

I shall ne’er prevail

To make our men of taste a pullet choose,

And the gay peacock with its train refuse.

For the rare bird at mighty price is sold,

And lo! What wonders from its tail unfold!

But can these whims a higher gusto raise

Unless you eat the plumage that you praise?

Or do its glories when ’tis boiled remain?

No; ’tis the unequaled beauty of its train,

Deludes your eye and charms you to the feast,

For hens and peacocks are alike in taste.

Then peacocks have been made useful in a medicinal way. The doctors once prescribed peacock broth for pleurisy, peacocks’ tongues for epilepsy, peacocks’ fat for colic, peacocks’ galls for weak eyes, peahens’ eggs for gout.

It is always darkest just before dawn, and only a week from that humiliating Sunday episode I was called by my gardener to look at the dearest little brown something that was darting about in the poultry yard. It was a baby peacock, only one day old. He got out of the nest in some way, and preferred to take care of himself. How independent, how captivating he was! As not one other egg had hatched, he was lamentably, desperately alone, with dangers on every side, “homeless and orphanless.” Something on that Sabbath morning recalled Melchizedec, the priest without father or mother, of royal descent, and of great length of days. Earnestly hoping for longevity for this feathered mite of princely birth, I called him “Melchizedec.”

I caught him and was in his toils. He was a tiny tyrant; I was but a slave, an attendant, a nurse, a night-watcher. Completely under his claw!

No more work, no more leisure, no more music or tennis; my life career, my sphere, was definitely settled. I was Kizzie’s attendant—nothing more. People have cared for rather odd pets, as the leeches tamed and trained by Lord Erskine; others have been deeply interested in toads, crickets, mice, lizards, alligators, tortoises, and monkeys. Wolsey was on familiar terms with a venerable carp; Clive owned a pet tortoise; Sir John Lubbock contrived to win the affections of a Syrian wasp; Charles Dudley Warner devoted an entire article in the Atlantic Monthly to the praises of his cat Calvin; but did you ever hear of a peacock as a household pet?

As it is the correct thing now to lie down all of a summer afternoon, hidden by trees, and closely watch every movement of a pair of little birds, or spend hours by a frog pond studying the sluggish life there, and as mothers are urged by scientific students to record daily the development of their infants in each apparently unimportant matter, I think I may be excused for a brief sketch of my charge, for no mother ever had a child so precocious, so wise, so willful, so affectionate, so persistent, as Kizzie at the same age. Before he was three days old, he would follow me like a dog up and down stairs and all over the house, walk behind me as I strolled about the grounds, and when tired, he would cry and “peep, weep” for me to sit down. Then he would beg to be taken on my lap, thence he would proceed to my arm, then my neck, where he would peck and scream and flutter, determined to nestle there for a nap. My solicitude increased as he lived on, and I hoped to “raise” him. He literally demanded every moment of my time, my entire attention during the day, and, alas! at night also, until I seemed to be living a tragic farce!

If put down on carpet or matting, he at once began to pick up everything he could spy on the floor, and never before did I realize how much could be found there. I had a dressmaker in the house, and Kizzie was always going for a deadly danger—here a pin, there a needle, just a step away a tack or a bit of thread or a bead of jet.

Outdoors it was even worse. With two bird dogs ready for anything but birds, the pug that had already devoured all that had come to me of my expensive importations, a neighbor’s cat often stealing over to hunt for her dinner, a crisis seemed imminent every minute. Even his own father would destroy him if they met, as the peacock allows no possible rival. And Kizzie kept so close to my heels that I hardly dared step. If my days were distracting, the nights were inexpressibly awful. I supposed he would be glad to go to sleep in a natural way after a busy day. No, indeed! He would not stay in box or basket, or anywhere but cradled close in my neck. There he wished to remain, twittering happily, giving now and then a sweet, little, tremulous trill, indicative of content, warmth, and drowsiness; if I dared to move ever so little, showing by a sharp scratch from his claws that he preferred absolute quiet. One night, when all worn out, I rose and put him in a hat box and covered it closely, but his piercing cries of distress and anger prevented the briefest nap, reminding me of the old man who said, “Yes, it’s pretty dangerous livin’ anywheres.” I was so afraid of hurting him that I scarcely dared move. Each night we had a prolonged battle, but he never gave in for one instant until he could roost on my outstretched finger or just under my chin. Then he would settle down, the conflict over, he as usual the victor, and the sweet little lullaby would begin.

One night I rose hastily to close the windows in a sudden shower. Kizzie wakened promptly, and actually followed me out of the room and down-stairs. Alas! it was not far from his breakfast hour, for he preferred his first meal at four o’clock A.M. You see how he influenced me to rise early and take plenty of exercise.

I once heard of a wealthy Frenchman, nervous and dyspeptic, who was ordered by his eccentric physician to buy a Barbary ostrich and imitate him as well as care for him. And he was quickly cured!

On the other hand, it is said that animals and birds grow to be like those who train and pet them. Christopher North (John Wilson) used to carry a sparrow in his coat pocket. And his friends averred that the bird grew so large and impressive that it seemed to be changing into an eagle.

But Kizzie was the stronger influence. I really grew afraid of him, as he liked to watch my eyes, and once picked at them, as he always picked at any shining bit.

What respect I now feel for a sober, steady-going, successful old hen, who raises brood after brood of downy darlings without mishaps! Her instinct is an inspiration. Kizzie liked to perch on my finger and catch flies for his dinner. How solemn, wise, and bewitching he did look as he snapped at and swallowed fifteen flies, uttering all the time a satisfied little note, quite distinct from his musical slumber song!

How he enjoyed lying on one side, stretched out at full length, to bask in the sun, a miniature copy of his magnificent father! Very careful was he of his personal appearance, pruning and preening his pretty feathers many times each day, paying special attention to his tail—not more than an inch long—but what a prophecy of the future! As mothers care most for the most troublesome child, so I grew daily more fond of cute little Kizzie, more anxious that he should live.

I could talk all day of his funny ways, of his fondness for me, of his daily increasing intelligence, of his hair-breadth escapes, etc.

The old story—the dear gazelle experience came all too soon.

Completely worn out with my constant vigils, I intrusted him for one night to a friend who assured me that she was a most quiet sleeper, and that he could rest safely on her fingers. I was too tired to say no.

She came to me at daybreak, with poor Kizzie dead in her hands. He died like Desdemona, smothered with pillows. All I can do in his honor has been done by this inadequate recital of his charms and his capacity. After a few days of sincere grief I reflected philosophically that if he had not passed away I must have gone soon, and naturally felt it preferable that I should be the survivor.

A skillful taxidermist has preserved as much of Kizzie as possible for me, and he now adorns the parlor mantel, a weak, mute reminder of three weeks of anxiety.

And his parents—

The peahen died suddenly and mysteriously. There was no apparent reason for her demise, but the autopsy, which revealed a large and irregular fragment of window glass lodged in her gizzard, proved that she was a victim of Beauty’s vanity. A friend who was present said, as he tenderly held the glass between thumb and finger: “It is now easy to see through the cause of her death; under the circumstances, it would be idle to speak of it as pane-less!” Beauty had never seemed very devoted to her, but he mourned her long and sincerely. Now that she had gone he appreciated her meek adoration, her altruistic devotion.

Another touch like human nature.

And when, after a decent period of mourning, another spouse was secured for him he refused to notice her and wandered solitary and sad to a neighbor’s fields. The new madam was not allowed to share the high roost on the elm. She was obliged to seek a less elevated and airy dormitory. His voice, always distressingly harsh, was now so awful that it was fascinating. The notes seemed cracked by grief or illness. At last, growing feebler, he succumbed to some wasting malady and no longer strutted about in brilliant pre-eminence or came to the piazza calling imperiously for dainties, but rested for hours in some quiet corner. The physician who was called in prescribed for his liver. He showed symptoms of poisoning, and I began to fear that in his visit to a neighbor’s potato fields he had indulged in Paris green, possibly with suicidal intent.

There was something heroic in his way of dying. No moans, no cries; just a dignified endurance. From the western window of the shed chamber where he lay he could see the multitude of fowls below, in the yards where he had so lately reigned supreme. Occasionally, with a heroic effort, he would get on his legs and gaze wistfully on the lively crowd so unmindful of his wretchedness, then sink back exhausted, reminding me of some grand old monarch, statesman, or warrior looking for the last time on the scenes of his former triumphs. I should have named him Socrates. At last he was carried to a cool resting place in the deep grass, covered with pink mosquito netting, and one kind friend after another fanned him and watched over his last moments. After he was really dead, and Tom with tears rolling down his face carried him tenderly away, I woke from my ambitious dream and felt verily guilty of aviscide.

But for my vainglorious ambition Beauty would doubtless be alive and resplendent; his consort, modest hued and devoted, at his side, and my bank account would have a better showing.

There is a motto as follows, “Let him keep peacock to himself,” derived in this way:

When George III had partly recovered from one of his attacks, his ministers got him to read the king’s speech, but he ended every sentence with the word “peacock.”

The minister who drilled him said that “peacock” was an excellent word for ending a sentence, only kings should not let subjects hear it, but should whisper it softly.

The result was a perfect success; the pause at the close of each sentence had such a fine elocutionary effect.

In future, when longing to indulge in some new display, yield to another temptation, let me whisper “peacock” and be saved.



Then you seriously suppose, doctor, that gardening is good for the constitution?

I do. For kings, lords, and commons. Grow your own cabbages. Sow your own turnips, and if you wish for a gray head, cultivate carrots.


Conceit is not encouraged in the country. Your level is decided for you, and the public opinion is soon reported as something you should know.

As a witty spinster once remarked: “It’s no use to fib about your age in your native village. Some old woman always had a calf born the same night you were!”

Jake Corey was refreshingly frank. He would give me a quizzical look, shift his quid, and begin:

“Spent a sight o’ money on hens, hain’t ye? Wall, by next year I guess you’ll find out whether ye want to quit foolin’ with hens or not. Now, my hens doan’t git no condition powder, nor sun-flower seeds, nor no such nonsense, and I ain’t got no bone cutter nor fancy fountains for ‘em; but I let ‘em scratch for themselves and have their liberty, and mine look full better’n your’n. I’ll give ye one p’int. You could save a lot by engagin’ an old hoss that’s got to be killed. I’m allers looking round in the fall of the year for some old critter just ready to drop. Wait till cold weather, and then, when he’s killed, hang half of him up in the hen house and see how they’ll pick at it. It’s the best feed going for hens, and makes ‘em lay right along. Doan’t cost nothin’ either.”

I had been asked to give a lecture in a neighboring town, and, to change the subject, inquired if he thought many would attend. Jake looked rather blank, took off his cap, scratched his head, and then said:

“I dunno. Ef you was a Beecher or a Gough you could fill the hall, or may be ef your more known like, and would talk to ‘em free, you might git ‘em, or if you’s going to sing or dress up to make ‘em larf; but as ’tis, I dunno.” After the effort was over I tried to sound him as to my success. He was unusually reticent, and would only say: “Wall, the only man I heard speak on’t, said ’twas different from anything he ever heard.” This reminded me of a capital story told me by an old family doctor many years ago. It was that sort of anecdote now out of fashion with raconteurs—a long preamble, many details, a gradual increase of interest, and a vivid climax, and when told by a sick bed would sometimes weary the patient. A man not especially well known had given a lecture in a New Hampshire town without rousing much enthusiasm in his audience, and as he rode away on the top of the stage coach next morning he tried to get some sort of opinion from Jim Barker, the driver. After pumping in vain for a compliment the gentleman inquired: “Did you hear nothing about my lecture from any of the people? I should like very much to get some idea of how it was received.”

“Wall, no, stranger, I can’t say as I heerd much. I guess the folks was purty well pleased. No one seemed to be ag’in it but Square Lothrop.”

“And may I ask what he said?”

“Wall, I wouldn’t mind it, if I’se you, what he said. He says just what he thinks—right out with it, no matter who’s hurt—and he usually gets the gist on’t. But I wouldn’t mind what he said, the public was purty generally pleased.” And the long whip lash cracks and Jim shouts, “Get an, Dandy.”

“Yes,” persisted the tortured man; “but I do want very much to know what Squire Lothrop’s opinion was.”

“Now, stranger, I wouldn’t think any more about the Square. He’s got good common sense and allers hits the nail on the head, but as I said, you pleased ‘em fust rate.”

“Yes, but I must know what Squire Lothrop did say.”

“Wall, if you will have it, he did say (and he’s apt to get the gist on’t) he did say that he thought ’twas awful shaller!

Many epigrammatic sayings come back to me, and one is too good to be omitted, An old woman was fiercely criticising a neighbor and ended in this way: “Folks that pretend to be somebody, and don’t act like nobody, ain’t anybody!”

Another woman reminded me of Mrs. Partington. She told blood-curdling tales of the positive reappearance of departed spirits, and when I said, “Do you really believe all this?” she replied, “Indeed, I do, and yet I’m not an imaginary woman!” Her dog was provoked into a conflict with my setters, and she exclaimed: “Why, I never saw him so completely ennervated.”

Then the dear old lady who said she was a free thinker and wasn’t ashamed of it; guessed she knew as much as the minister ’bout this world or the next; liked nothing better than to set down Sunday afternoons after she’d fed her hens and read Ingersoll. “What books of his have you?” I asked.

She handed me a small paper-bound volume which did not look like any of “Bob’s” productions. It was a Guide Book through Picturesque Vermont by Ernest Ingersoll!

And I must not omit the queer sayings of a simple-hearted hired man on a friend’s farm.

Oh, for a photo of him as I saw him one cold, rainy morning tending Jason Kibby’s dozen cows. He had on a rubber coat and cap, but his trouser legs were rolled above the knee and he was barefoot, “Hannibal,” I shouted, “you’ll take cold with your feet in that wet grass!”

“Gueth not, Marm,” he lisped back cheerily. “I never cared for shooth mythelf.”

He was always shouting across the way to inquire if “thith wath hot enough or cold enough to thute me?” As if I had expressed a strong desire for phenomenal extremes of temperature. One morning he suddenly departed. I met him trudging along with three hats jammed on to his head and a rubber coat under his arm, for ’twas a fine day.

“Why, Hanny!” I exclaimed, “where are you going in such haste?”

“Mithter Kibby told me to go to Halifax, and—I’m going!”

Next, the man who was anxious to go into partnership with me. He would work my farm at halves, or I could buy his farm, cranberry bog, and woodland, and he would live right on there and run that place at halves; urged me to buy twelve or fourteen cows cheap in the fall and start a milk route, he to be the active partner; then he had a chance to buy a lot of “essences” cheap, and if I’d purchase a peddling-wagon, he’d put in his old horse, and we’d go halves on that business, or I could buy up a lot of calves or young pigs and he’d feed ‘em and we’d go halves.

But I will not take you through my entire picture-gallery, as I have two good stories to tell you before saying good-by.

Depressing remarks have reached me about my “lakelet,” which at first was ridiculed by every one. The struggle of evolution from the “spring hole” was severe and protracted. Experts were summoned, their estimates of cost ranging from four hundred to one thousand dollars, and no one thought it worth while to touch it. It was discouraging. Venerable and enormous turtles hid in its muddy depths and snapped at the legs of the ducks as they dived, adding a limp to the waddle; frogs croaked there dismally; mosquitoes made it a camping ground and head center; big black water snakes often came to drink and lingered by the edge; the ugly horn pout was the only fish that could live there. Depressing, in contrast with my rosy dreams! But now the little lake is a charming reality, and the boat is built and launched. Turtles, pout, lily roots as big as small trees, and two hundred loads of “alluvial deposit” are no longer “in it,” while carp are promised me by my friend Commissioner Blackford. The “Tomtoolan”[2] is not a large body of water—one hundred and fifty feet long, seventy-five feet wide—but it is a delight to me and has been grossly traduced by ignorant or envious outsiders. The day after the “Katy-Did” was christened (a flat-bottomed boat, painted prettily with blue and gold) I invited a lady to try it with me. Flags were fluttering from stem and stern. We took a gayly colored horn to toot as we went, and two dippers to bail, if necessary. It was not exactly “Youth at the prow and Pleasure at the helm,” but we were very jolly and not a little proud.

Footnote 2: Named in honor of the amateur engineers.

A neglected knot-hole soon caused the boat to leak badly. We had made but one circuit, when we were obliged to “hug the shore” and devote our entire energies to bailing. “Tip her a little more,” I cried, and the next instant we were both rolled into the water. It was an absurd experience, and after scrambling out, our clothes so heavy we could scarcely step, we vowed, between hysteric fits of laughter, to keep our tip-over a profound secret.

But the next time I went to town, friends began to smile mysteriously, asked me if I had been out on the lake yet, made sly and jocose allusions to a sudden change to Baptistic faith, and if I cordially invited them to join me in a row, would declare a preference for surf and salt water, or, if pressed, would murmur in the meanest way something about having a bath-tub at home.

It is now nearly a year since that little adventure, but it is still a subject of mirth, even in other towns. A friend calling yesterday told me the version he had just heard at Gillford, ten miles away!

“You bet they have comical goings-on at that woman’s farm by the Gooseville depot! She got a regular menagerie, fust off—everything she see or could hear of. Got sick o’ the circus bizness, and went into potatoes deep. They say she was actually up and outdoors by day-break, working and worrying over the tater bugs!

“She’s a red-headed, fleshy woman, and some of our folks going by in the cars would tell of seeing her tramping up and down the long furrows, with half a dozen boys hired to help her. Soon as she’d killed most of her own, a million more just traveled over from the field opposite where they had had their own way and cleaned out most everything. Then, what the bugs spared, the long rains rotted. So I hear she’s giv’ up potatoes.

“Then she got sot on scooping out a seven by nine mud hole to make a pond, and had a boat built to match.

“Well, by darn, she took a stout woman in with her, and, as I heerd it, that boat just giv’ one groan, and sunk right down!”

As to the potatoes, I might never have escaped from that terrific thralldom, if a city friend, after hearing my woful experience, had not inquired quietly:

“Why have potatoes? It’s much cheaper to buy all you need!”

I had been laboring under a strange spell—supposed I must plant potatoes; the relief is unspeakable.

Jennie June once said, “The great art of life is to eliminate.” I admired the condensed wisdom of this, but, like experience, it only serves to illume the path over which I have passed.

One little incident occurred this spring which is too funny to withhold. Among the groceries ordered from Boston was a piece of extra fine cheese. A connoisseur in cheese had advised me to try it. It recommended itself so strongly that I placed it carefully under glass, in a place all by itself. It was strong—strong enough to sew buttons on, strong as Sampson, strong enough to walk away alone. One warm morning it seemed to have gained during the night. Its penetrating, permeating power was something, almost supernatural. I carried it from one place to another, each time more remote. It would not be lonely if segregrated, doubtless it had ample social facilities within itself! At last I became desperate. “Ellen,” I exclaimed, “just bring in that cheese and burn it. It comes high, too high. I can not endure it.” She opened the top of the range and, as the cremation was going on, I continued my comments. “Why, in all my life, I never knew anything like it; wherever I put it—in pantry, swing cupboard, on the cellar stairs, in a tin box, on top of the refrigerator—way out on that—” Just then Tom opened the door and said:

“Miss, your fertilizer’s come!”

I have told you of my mistakes, failures, losses, but have you any idea of my daily delights, my lasting gains?

From invalidism to health, from mental depression to exuberant spirits, that is the blessed record of two years of amateur farming. What has done this? Exercise, actual hard work, digging in the dirt. We are made of dust, and the closer our companionship with Mother Earth in summer time the longer we shall keep above ground. Then the freedom from conventional restraints of dress; no necessity for “crimps,” no need of foreign hirsute adornment, no dresses with tight arm holes and trailing skirts, no high-heeled slippers with pointed toes, but comfort, clear comfort, indoors and out.

Plenty of rocking chairs, lounges that make one sleepy just to look at them, open fires in every room, and nothing too fine for the sun to glorify; butter, eggs, cream, vegetables, poultry—simply perfect, and the rare, ecstatic privilege of eating onions—onions raw, boiled, baked, and fried at any hour or all hours. I said comfort; it is luxury!

Dr. Holmes says: “I have seen respectability and amiability grouped over the air-tight stove, I have seen virtue and intelligence hovering over the register, but I have never seen true happiness in a family circle where the faces were not illuminated by the blaze of an open fireplace.” And nature! I could fill pages with glowing descriptions of Days Outdoors. In my own homely pasture I have found the dainty wild rose, the little field strawberries so fragrant and spicy, the blue berries high and low, so desirable for “pie-fodder,” and daisies and ferns in abundance, and, in an adjoining meadow by the brookside, the cardinal flower and the blue gentian. All these simple pleasures seem better to me than sitting in heated, crowded rooms listening to interminable music, or to men or women who never know when to stop, or rushing round to gain more information on anything and everything from Alaska to Zululand, and wildly struggling to catch up with “social duties.”

City friends, looking at the other side of the shield, marvel at my contentment, and regard me as buried alive. But when I go back for a short time to the old life I am fairly homesick. I miss my daily visit to the cows and the frolic with the dogs. All that has been unpleasant fades like a dream.

I think of the delicious morning hours on the broad vine-covered piazza, the evenings with their starry splendor or witching moonlight, the nights of sound sleep and refreshing rest, the all-day picnics, the jolly drives with friends as charmed with country life as myself, and I weary of social functions and overpowering intellectual privileges, and every other advantage of the metropolis, and long to migrate once more from Gotham to Gooseville.

“Dear country life of child and man!

For both the best, the strongest,

That with the earliest race began,

And hast outlived the longest,

Their cities perished long ago;

Who the first farmers were we know.”

Posted by: khatraadibasi | October 29, 2011

Dry-land Farming

Dry-farming, as at present understood, is the profitable production of useful crops, without irrigation, on lands that receive annually a rainfall of 20 inches or less. In districts of torrential rains, high winds, unfavorable distribution of the rainfall, or other water-dissipating factors, the term “dry-farming” is also properly applied to farming without irrigation under an annual precipitation of 25 or even 30 inches. There is no sharp demarcation between dry-and humid-farming.

When the annual precipitation is under 20 inches, the methods of dry-farming are usually indispensable. When it is over 30 inches, the methods of humid-farming are employed; in places where the annual precipitation is between 20 and 30 inches, the methods to be used depend chiefly on local conditions affecting the conservation of soil moisture. Dry-farming, however, always implies farming under a comparatively small annual rainfall.

The term “dry-farming” is, of course, a misnomer. In reality it is farming under drier conditions than those prevailing in the countries in which scientific agriculture originated. Many suggestions for a better name have been made. “Scientific agriculture” has-been proposed, but all agriculture should be scientific, and agriculture without irrigation in an arid country has no right to lay sole claim to so general a title. “Dry-land agriculture,” which has also been suggested, is no improvement over “dry-farming,” as it is longer and also carries with it the idea of dryness. Instead of the name “dry-farming” it would, perhaps, be better to use the names, “arid-farming.” “semiarid-farming,” “humid-farming,” and “irrigation-farming,” according to the climatic conditions prevailing in various parts of the world. However, at the present time the name “dry-farming” is in such general use that it would seem unwise to suggest any change. It should be used with the distinct understanding that as far as the word “dry” is concerned it is a misnomer. When the two words are hyphenated, however, a compound technical term—”dry-farming”—is secured which has a meaning of its own, such as we have just defined it to be; and “dry-farming,” therefore, becomes an addition to the lexicon.

Dry-versus humid-farming

Dry-farming, as a distinct branch of agriculture, has for its purpose the reclamation, for the use of man, of the vast unirrigable “desert” or “semi-desert” areas of the world, which until recently were considered hopelessly barren. The great underlying principles of agriculture are the same the world over, yet the emphasis to be placed on the different agricultural theories and practices must be shifted in accordance with regional conditions. The agricultural problem of first importance in humid regions is the maintenance of soil fertility; and since modern agriculture was developed almost wholly under humid conditions, the system of scientific agriculture has for its central idea the maintenance of soil fertility. In arid regions, on the other hand, the conservation of the natural water precipitation for crop production is the important problem; and a new system of agriculture must therefore be constructed, on the basis of the old principles, but with the conservation of the natural precipitation as the central idea. The system of dry-farming must marshal and organize all the established facts of science for the better utilization, in plant growth, of a limited rainfall. The excellent teachings of humid agriculture respecting the maintenance of soil fertility will be of high value in the development of dry-farming, and the firm establishment of right methods of conserving and using the natural precipitation will undoubtedly have a beneficial effect upon the practice of humid agriculture.

The problems of dry-farming

The dry-farmer, at the outset, should know with comparative accuracy the annual rainfall over the area that he intends to cultivate. He must also have a good acquaintance with the nature of the soil, not only as regards its plant-food content, but as to its power to receive and retain the water from rain and snow. In fact, a knowledge of the soil is indispensable in successful dry-farming. Only by such knowledge of the rainfall and the soil is he able to adapt the principles outlined in this volume to his special needs.

Since, under dry-farm conditions, water is the limiting factor of production, the primary problem of dry-farming is the most effective storage in the soil of the natural precipitation. Only the water, safely stored in the soil within reach of the roots, can be used in crop production. Of nearly equal importance is the problem of keeping the water in the soil until it is needed by plants. During the growing season, water may be lost from the soil by downward drainage or by evaporation from the surface. It becomes necessary, therefore, to determine under what conditions the natural precipitation stored in the soil moves downward and by what means surface evaporation may be prevented or regulated. The soil-water, of real use to plants, is that taken up by the roots and finally evaporated from the leaves. A large part of the water stored in the soil is thus used. The methods whereby this direct draft of plants on the soil-moisture may be regulated are, naturally, of the utmost importance to the dry-farmer, and they constitute another vital problem of the science of dry-farming.

The relation of crops to the prevailing conditions of arid lands offers another group of important dry-farm problems. Some plants use much less water than others. Some attain maturity quickly, and in that way become desirable for dry-farming. Still other crops, grown under humid conditions, may easily be adapted to dry-farming conditions, if the correct methods are employed, and in a few seasons may be made valuable dry-farm crops. The individual characteristics of each crop should be known as they relate themselves to a low rainfall and arid soils.

After a crop has been chosen, skill and knowledge are needed in the proper seeding, tillage, and harvesting of the crop. Failures frequently result from the want of adapting the crop treatment to arid conditions.

After the crop has been gathered and stored, its proper use is another problem for the dry-farmer. The composition of dry-farm crops is different from that of crops grown with an abundance of water. Usually, dry-farm crops are much more nutritious and therefore should command a higher price in the markets, or should be fed to stock in corresponding proportions and combinations.

The fundamental problems of dry-farming are, then, the storage in the soil of a small annual rainfall; the retention in the soil of the moisture until it is needed by plants; the prevention of the direct evaporation of soil-moisture during; the growing season; the regulation of the amount of water drawn from the soil by plants; the choice of crops suitable for growth under arid conditions; the application of suitable crop treatments, and the disposal of dry-farm products, based upon the superior composition of plants grown with small amounts of water. Around these fundamental problems cluster a host of minor, though also important, problems. When the methods of dry-farming are understood and practiced, the practice is always successful; but it requires more intelligence, more implicit obedience to nature’s laws, and greater vigilance, than farming in countries of abundant rainfall.

The chapters that follow will deal almost wholly with the problems above outlined as they present themselves in the construction of a rational system of farming without irrigation in countries of limited rainfall.


The confidence with which scientific investigators, familiar with the arid regions, have attacked the problems of dry-farming rests largely on the known relationship of the water requirements of plants to the natural precipitation of rain and snow. It is a most elementary fact of plant physiology that no plant can live and grow unless it has at its disposal a sufficient amount of water.

The water used by plants is almost entirely taken from the soil by the minute root-hairs radiating from the roots. The water thus taken into the plants is passed upward through the stem to the leaves, where it is finally evaporated. There is, therefore, a more or less constant stream of water passing through the plant from the roots to the leaves.

By various methods it is possible to measure the water thus taken from the soil. While this process of taking water from the soil is going on within the plant, a certain amount of soil-moisture is also lost by direct evaporation from the soil surface. In dry-farm sections, soil-moisture is lost only by these two methods; for wherever the rainfall is sufficient to cause drainage from deep soils, humid conditions prevail.

Water for one pound dry matter

Many experiments have been conducted to determine the amount of water used in the production of one pound of dry plant substance. Generally, the method of the experiments has been to grow plants in large pots containing weighed quantities of soil. As needed, weighed amounts of water were added to the pots. To determine the loss of water, the pots were weighed at regular intervals of three days to one week. At harvest time, the weight of dry matter was carefully determined for each pot. Since the water lost by the pots was also known, the pounds of water used for the production of every pound of dry matter were readily calculated.

The first reliable experiments of the kind were undertaken under humid conditions in Germany and other European countries. From the mass of results, some have been selected and presented in the following table. The work was done by the famous German investigators, Wollny, Hellriegel, and Sorauer, in the early eighties of the last century. In every case, the numbers in the table represent the number of pounds of water used for the production of one pound of ripened dry substance:

Pounds Of Water For One Pound Of Dry Matter

           Wollny Hellreigel Sorauer
Wheat 338 459
Oats 665 376 569
Barley 310 431
Rye 774 353 236
Corn 233
Buckwheat 646 363
Peas 416 273
Horsebeans 282
Red clover 310
Sunflowers 490
Millet 447

It is clear from the above results, obtained in Germany, that the amount of water required to produce a pound of dry matter is not the same for all plants, nor is it the same under all conditions for the same plant. In fact, as will be shown in a later chapter, the water requirements of any crop depend upon numerous factors, more or less controllable. The range of the above German results is from 233 to 774 pounds, with an average of about 419 pounds of water for each pound of dry matter produced.

During the late eighties and early nineties, King conducted experiments similar to the earlier German experiments, to determine the water requirements of crops under Wisconsin conditions. A summary of the results of these extensive and carefully conducted experiments is as follows:—

Oats 385
Barley 464
Corn 271
Peas 477
Clover 576
Potatoes 385

The figures in the above table, averaging about 446 pounds, indicate that very nearly the same quantity of water is required for the production of crops in Wisconsin as in Germany. The Wisconsin results tend to be somewhat higher than those obtained in Europe, but the difference is small.

It is a settled principle of science, as will be more fully discussed later, that the amount of water evaporated from the soil and transpired by plant leaves increases materially with an increase in the average temperature during the growing season, and is much higher under a clear sky and in districts where the atmosphere is dry. Wherever dry-farming is likely to be practiced, a moderately high temperature, a cloudless sky, and a dry atmosphere are the prevailing conditions. It appeared probable therefore, that in arid countries the amount of water required for the production of one pound of dry matter would be higher than in the humid regions of Germany and Wisconsin. To secure information on this subject, Widtsoe and Merrill undertook, in 1900, a series of experiments in Utah, which were conducted upon the plan of the earlier experimenters. An average statement of the results of six years’ experimentation is given in the subjoined table, showing the number of pounds of water required for one pound of dry matter on fertile soils:—

Wheat 1048
Corn 589
Peas 1118
Sugar Beets 630

These Utah findings support strongly the doctrine that the amount of water required for the production of each pound of dry matter is very much larger under arid conditions, as in Utah, than under humid conditions, as in Germany or Wisconsin. It must be observed, however, that in all of these experiments the plants were supplied with water in a somewhat wasteful manner; that is, they were given an abundance of water, and used the largest quantity possible under the prevailing conditions. No attempt of any kind was made to economize water. The results, therefore, represent maximum results and can be safely used as such. Moreover, the methods of dry-farming, involving the storage of water in deep soils and systematic cultivation, were not employed. The experiments, both in Europe and America, rather represent irrigated conditions. There are good reasons for believing that in Germany, Wisconsin, and Utah the amounts above given can be materially reduced by the employment of proper cultural methods.

The water in the large bottle would be required to produce the grain in the small bottle.

In view of these findings concerning the water requirements of crops, it cannot be far from the truth to say that, under average cultural conditions, approximately 750 pounds of water are required in an arid district for the production of one pound of dry matter. Where the aridity is intense, this figure may be somewhat low, and in localities of sub-humid conditions, it will undoubtedly be too high. As a maximum average, however, for districts interested in dry-farming, it can be used with safety.

Crop-producing power of rainfall

If this conclusion, that not more than 750 pounds of water are required under ordinary dry-farm conditions for the production of one pound of dry matter, be accepted, certain interesting calculations can be made respecting the possibilities of dry-farming. For example, the production of one bushel of wheat will require 60 times 750, or 45,000 pounds of water. The wheat kernels, however, cannot be produced without a certain amount of straw, which under conditions of dry-farming seldom forms quite one half of the weight of the whole plant. Let us say, however, that the weights of straw and kernels are equal. Then, to produce one bushel of wheat, with the corresponding quantity of straw, would require 2 times 45,000, or 90,000 pounds of water. This is equal to 45 tons of water for each bushel of wheat. While this is a large figure, yet, in many localities, it is undoubtedly well within the truth. In comparison with the amounts of water that fall upon the land as rain, it does not seem extraordinarily large.

One inch of water over one acre of land weighs approximately 226,875 pounds. or over 113 tons. If this quantity of water could be stored in the soil and used wholly for plant production, it would produce, at the rate of 45 tons of water for each bushel, about 2-1/2 bushels of wheat. With 10 inches of rainfall, which up to the present seems to be the lower limit of successful dry-farming, there is a maximum possibility of producing 25 bushels of wheat annually.

In the subjoined table, constructed on the basis of the discussion of this chapter, the wheat-producing powers of various degrees of annual precipitation are shown:—

One acre inch of water will produce 2-1/2 bushels of wheat.

Ten acre inches of water will produce 25 bushels of wheat.

Fifteen acre inches of water will produce 37-1/2 bushels of wheat.

Twenty acre inches of water will produce 50 bushels of wheat.

It must be distinctly remembered, however, that under no known system of tillage can all the water that falls upon a soil be brought into the soil and stored there for plant use. Neither is it possible to treat a soil so that all the stored soil-moisture may be used for plant production. Some moisture, of necessity, will evaporate directly from the soil, and some may be lost in many other ways. Yet, even under a rainfall of 12 inches, if only one half of the water can be conserved, which experiments have shown to be very feasible, there is a possibility of producing 30 bushels of wheat per acre every other year, which insures an excellent interest on the money and labor invested in the production of the crop.

It is on the grounds outlined in this chapter that students of the subject believe that ultimately large areas of the “desert” may be reclaimed by means of dry-farming. The real question before the dry-farmer is not, “Is the rainfall sufficient?” but rather, “Is it possible so to conserve and use the rainfall as to make it available for the production of profitable crops?”


The annual precipitation of rain and snow determines primarily the location of dry-farm areas. As the rainfall varies, the methods of dry-farming must be varied accordingly. Rainfall, alone, does not, however, furnish a complete index of the crop-producing possibilities of a country.

The distribution of the rainfall, the amount of snow, the water-holding power of the soil, and the various moisture-dissipating causes, such as winds, high temperature, abundant sunshine, and low humidity frequently combine to offset the benefits of a large annual precipitation. Nevertheless, no one climatic feature represents, on the average, so correctly dry-farming possibilities as does the annual rainfall. Experience has already demonstrated that wherever the annual precipitation is above 15 inches, there is no need of crop failures, if the soils are suitable and the methods of dry-farming are correctly employed. With an annual precipitation of 10 to 15 inches, there need be very few failures, if proper cultural precautions are taken. With our present methods, the areas that receive less than 10 inches of atmospheric precipitation per year are not safe for dry-farm purposes. What the future will show in the reclamation of these deserts, without irrigation, is yet conjectural.

Arid, semiarid, and sub-humid

Before proceeding to an examination of the areas in the United States subject to the methods of dry-farming it may be well to define somewhat more clearly the terms ordinarily used in the description of the great territory involved in the discussion.

The states lying west of the 100th meridian are loosely spoken of as arid, semiarid, or sub-humid states. For commercial purposes no state wants to be classed as arid and to suffer under the handicap of advertised aridity. The annual rainfall of these states ranges from about 3 to over 30 inches.

In order to arrive at greater definiteness, it may be well to assign definite rainfall values to the ordinarily used descriptive terms of the region in question. It is proposed, therefore, that districts receiving less than 10 inches of atmospheric precipitation annually, be designated arid; those receiving between 10 and 20 inches, semiarid; those receiving between 20 and 30 inches, sub-humid, and those receiving over 30 inches, humid. It is admitted that even such a classification is arbitrary, since aridity does not alone depend upon the rainfall, and even under such a classification there is an unavoidable overlapping. However, no one factor so fully represents varying degrees of aridity as the annual precipitation, and there is a great need for concise definitions of the terms used in describing the parts of the country that come under dry-farming discussions. In this volume, the terms “arid,” “semiarid,” “sub-humid” and “humid” are used as above defined.

Precipitation over the dry-farm territory

Nearly one half of the United States receives 20 inches or less rainfall annually; and that when the strip receiving between 20 and 30 inches is added, the whole area directly subject to reclamation by irrigation or dry-farming is considerably more than one half (63 per cent) of the whole area of the United States.

Eighteen states are included in this area of low rainfall. The areas of these, as given by the Census of 1900, grouped according to the annual precipitation received, are shown below:—

Arid to Semi-arid Group
Total Area Land Surface (Sq. Miles)

Arizona 112,920
California 156,172
Colorado 103,645
Idaho 84,290
Nevada 109,740
Utah 82,190
Wyoming 97,545
TOTAL 746,532

Semiarid to Sub-Humid Group

Montana 145,310
Nebraska 76,840
New Mexico 112,460
North Dakota 70,195
Oregon 94,560
South Dakota 76,850
Washington 66,880
TOTAL 653,095

Sub-Humid to Humid Group

Kansas 81,700
Minnesota 79,205
Oklahoma 38,830
Texas 262,290
TOTAL 462,025

GRAND TOTAL 1,861,652

The territory directly interested in the development of the methods of dry-farming forms 63 per cent of the whole of the continental United States, not including Alaska, and covers an area of 1,861,652 square miles, or 1,191,457,280 acres. If any excuse were needed for the lively interest taken in the subject of dry-farming, it is amply furnished by these figures showing the vast extent of the country interested in the reclamation of land by the methods of dry-farming. As will be shown below, nearly every other large country possesses similar immense areas under limited rainfall.

Of the one billion, one hundred and ninety-one million, four hundred and fifty-seven thousand, two hundred and eighty acres (1,191,457,280) representing the dry-farm territory of the United States, about 22 per cent, or a little more than one fifth, is sub-humid and receives between 20 and 30 inches of rainfall, annually; 61 per cent, or a little more than three fifths, is semiarid and receives between 10 and 20 inches, annually, and about 17 per cent, or a little less than one fifth, is arid and receives less than 10 inches of rainfall, annually.

These calculations are based upon the published average rainfall maps of the United States Weather Bureau. In the far West, and especially over the so-called “desert” regions, with their sparse population, meteorological stations are not numerous, nor is it easy to secure accurate data from them. It is strongly probable that as more stations are established, it will be found that the area receiving less than 10 inches of rainfall annually is considerably smaller than above estimated. In fact, the United States Reclamation Service states that there are only 70,000,000 acres of desert-like land; that is, land which does not naturally support plants suitable for forage. This area is about one third of the lands which, so far as known, at present receive less than 10 inches of rainfall, or only about 6 per cent of the total dry-farming territory.

In any case, the semiarid area is at present most vitally interested in dry-farming. The sub-humid area need seldom suffer from drouth, if ordinary well-known methods are employed; the arid area, receiving less than 10 inches of rainfall, in all probability, can be reclaimed without irrigation only by the development of more suitable. methods than are known to-day. The semiarid area, which is the special consideration of present-day dry-farming represents an area of over 725,000,000 acres of land. Moreover, it must be remarked that the full certainty of crops in the sub-humid regions will come only with the adoption of dry-farming methods; and that results already obtained on the edge of the “deserts” lead to the belief that a large portion of the area receiving less than 10 inches of rainfall, annually, will ultimately be reclaimed without irrigation.

Naturally, not the whole of the vast area just discussed could be brought under cultivation, even under the most favorable conditions of rainfall. A very large portion of the territory in question is mountainous and often of so rugged a nature that to farm it would be an impossibility. It must not be forgotten, however, that some of the best dry-farm lands of the West are found in the small mountain valleys, which usually are pockets of most fertile soil, under a good supply of rainfall. The foothills of the mountains are almost invariably excellent dry-farm lands. Newell estimates that 195,000,000 acres of land in the arid to sub-humid sections are covered with a more or less dense growth of timber. This timbered area roughly represents the mountainous and therefore the nonarable portions of land. The same authority estimates that the desert-like lands cover an area of 70,000,000 acres. Making the most liberal estimates for mountainous and desert-like lands, at least one half of the whole area, or about 600,000,000 acres, is arable land which by proper methods may be reclaimed for agricultural purposes. Irrigation when fully developed may reclaim not to exceed 5 per cent of this area. From any point of view, therefore, the possibilities involved in dry-farming in the United States are immense.

Dry-farm area of the world

Dry-farming is a world problem. Aridity is a condition met and to be overcome upon every continent. McColl estimates that in Australia, which is somewhat larger than the continental United States of America, only one third of the whole surface receives above 20 inches of rainfall annually; one third receives from 10 to 20 inches, and one third receives less than lO inches. That is, about 1,267,000,000 acres in Australia are subject to reclamation by dry-farming methods. This condition is not far from that which prevails in the United States, and is representative of every continent of the world. The following table gives the proportions of the earth’s land surface under various degrees of annual precipitations:—

Annual Precipitation Proportion of Earth’s Land Surface
Under 10 inches 25.0 per cent
From 10 to 20 inches 30.0 per cent
From 20 to 40 inches 20.0 per cent
From 40 to 60 inches 11.0 per cent
From 60 to 80 inches 9.0 per cent
From 100 to 120 inches 4.0 per cent
From 120 to 160 inches 0.5 per cent
Above 160 inches 0.5 per cent
Total 100 per cent

Fifty-five per cent, or more than one half of the total land surface of the earth, receives an annual precipitation of less than 20 inches, and must be reclaimed, if at all, by dry-farming. At least 10 per cent more receives from 20 to 30 inches under conditions that make dry-farming methods necessary. A total of about 65 per cent of the earth’s land surface is, therefore, directly interested in dry-farming. With the future perfected development of irrigation systems and practices, not more than 10 per cent will be reclaimed by irrigation. Dry-farming is truly a problem to challenge the attention of the race.


The dry-farm territory of the United States stretches from the Pacific seaboard to the 96th parallel of longitude, and from the Canadian to the Mexican boundary, making a total area of nearly 1,800,000 square miles. This immense territory is far from being a vast level plain. On the extreme east is the Great Plains region of the Mississippi Valley which is a comparatively uniform country of rolling hills, but no mountains. At a point about one third of the whole distance westward the whole land is lifted skyward by the Rocky Mountains, which cross the country from south to northwest. Here are innumerable peaks, canons, high table-lands, roaring torrents, and quiet mountain valleys. West of the Rockies is the great depression known as the Great Basin, which has no outlet to the ocean. It is essentially a gigantic level lake floor traversed in many directions by mountain ranges that are offshoots from the backbone of the Rockies. South of the Great Basin are the high plateaus, into which many great chasms are cut, the best known and largest of which is the great Canon of the Colorado. North and east of the Great Basin is the Columbia River Basin characterized by basaltic rolling plains and broken mountain country. To the west, the floor of the Great Basin is lifted up into the region of eternal snow by the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which north of Nevada are known as the Cascades. On the west, the Sierra Nevadas slope gently, through intervening valleys and minor mountain ranges, into the Pacific Ocean. It would be difficult to imagine a more diversified topography than is possessed by the dry-farm territory of the United States.

Uniform climatic conditions are not to be expected over such a broken country. The chief determining factors of climate—latitude, relative distribution of land and water, elevation, prevailing winds—swing between such large extremes that of necessity the climatic conditions of different sections are widely divergent. Dry-farming is so intimately related to climate that the typical climatic variations must be pointed out.

The total annual precipitation is directly influenced by the land topography, especially by the great mountain ranges. On the east of the Rocky Mountains is the sub-humid district, which receives from 20 to 30 inches of rainfall annually; over the Rockies themselves, semiarid conditions prevail; in the Great Basin, hemmed in by the Rockies on the east and the Sierra Nevadas on the west, more arid conditions predominate; to the west, over the Sierras and down to the seacoast, semiarid to sub-humid conditions are again found.

Seasonal distribution of rainfall

It is doubtless true that the total annual precipitation is the chief factor in determining the success of dry-farming. However, the distribution of the rainfall throughout the year is also of great importance, and should be known by the farmer. A small rainfall, coming at the most desirable season, will have greater crop-producing power than a very much larger rainfall poorly distributed. Moreover, the methods of tillage to be employed where most of the precipitation comes in winter must be considerably different from those used where the bulk of the precipitation comes in the summer. The successful dry-farmer must know the average annual precipitation, and also the average seasonal distribution of the rainfall, over the land which he intends to dry-farm before he can safely choose his cultural methods.

With reference to the monthly distribution of the precipitation over
the dry-farm territory of the United States, Henry of the United
States Weather Bureau recognizes five distinct types; namely: (1)
Pacific, (2) Sub-Pacific, (3) Arizona, (4) the Northern Rocky
Mountain and Eastern Foothills, and (5) the Plains Type:—

_”The Pacific Type.—_This type is found in all of the territory west of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada ranges, and also obtains in a fringe of country to the eastward of the mountain summits. The distinguishing characteristic of the Pacific type is a wet season, extending from October to March, and a practically rainless summer, except in northern California and parts of Oregon and Washington. About half of the yearly precipitation comes in the months of December, January, and February, the remaining half being distributed throughout the seven months—September, October, November, March, April, May, and June.”

_”Sub-Pacific Type.—_The term ‘Sub-Pacific’ has been given to that type of rainfall which obtains over eastern Washington, Nevada, and Utah. The influences that control the precipitation of this region are much similar to those that prevail west of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges. There is not, however, as in the eastern type, a steady diminution in the precipitation with the approach of spring, but rather a culmination in the precipitation.”

_”Arizona Type.—_The Arizona Type, so called because it is more fully developed in that territory than elsewhere, prevails over Arizona, New Mexico, and a small portion of eastern Utah and Nevada. This type differs from all others in the fact that about 35 per cent of the rain falls in July and August. May and June are generally the months of least rainfall.”

_”The Northern Rocky Mountain and Eastern Foothills Type.—_This type is closely allied to that of the plains to the eastward, and the bulk of the rain falls in the foothills of the region in April and May; in Montana, in May and June.”

_”The Plains Type.—_This type embraces the greater part of the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas; Oklahoma, the Panhandle of Texas, and all the great corn and wheat states of the interior valleys. This region is characterized by a scant winter precipitation over the northern states and moderately heavy rains during the growing season. The. bulk of the rains comes in May, June, and July.”

This classification emphasizes the great variation in distribution of rainfall over the dry-farm territory of the country. West of the Rocky Mountains the precipitation comes chiefly in winter and spring, leaving the summers rainless; while east of the Rockies, the winters are somewhat rainless and the precipitation comes chiefly in spring and summer. The Arizona type stands midway between these types. This variation in the distribution of the rainfall requires that different methods be employed in storing and conserving the rainfall for crop production. The adaptation of cultural methods to the seasonal distribution of rainfall will be discussed hereafter.


Closely related to the distribution of the rainfall and the average annual temperature is the snowfall. Wherever a relatively large winter precipitation occurs, the dry-farmer is benefited if it comes in the form of snow. The fall-planted seeds are better protected by the snow; the evaporation is lower and it appears that the soil is improved by the annual covering of snow. In any case, the methods of culture are in a measure dependent upon the amount of snowfall and the length of time that it lies upon the ground.

Snow falls over most of the dry-farm territory, excepting the lowlands of California, the immediate Pacific coast, and other districts where the average annual temperature is high. The heaviest snowfall is in the intermountain district, from the west slope of the Sierra Nevadas to the east slope of the Rockies. The degree of snowfall on the agricultural lands is very variable and dependent upon local conditions. Snow falls upon all the high mountain ranges.


With the exceptions of portions of California, Arizona, and Texas the average annual surface temperature of the dry-farm territory of the United States ranges from 40 deg to 55 deg F. The average is not far from 45 deg F. This places most of the dry-farm territory in the class of cold regions, though a small area on the extreme east border may be classed as temperate, and parts of California and Arizona as warm. The range in temperature from the highest in summer to the lowest in winter is considerable, but not widely different from other similar parts of the United States. The range is greatest in the interior mountainous districts, and lowest along the seacoast. The daily range of the highest and lowest temperatures for any one day is generally higher over dry-farm sections than over humid districts. In the Plateau regions of the semiarid country the average daily variation is from 30 to 35 deg F., while east of the Mississippi it is only about 20 deg F. This greater daily range is chiefly due to the clear skies and scant vegetation which facilitate excessive warming by day and cooling by night.

The important temperature question for the dry-farmer is whether the growing season is sufficiently warm and long to permit the maturing of crops. There are few places, even at high altitudes in the region considered, where the summer temperature is so low as to retard the growth of plants. Likewise, the first and last killing frosts are ordinarily so far apart as to allow an ample growing season. It must be remembered that frosts are governed very largely by local topographic features, and must be known from a local point of view. It is a general law that frosts are more likely to occur in valleys than on hillsides, owing to the downward drainage of the cooled air. Further, the danger of frost increases with the altitude. In general, the last killing frost in spring over the dry-farm territory varies from March 15 to May 29, and the first killing frost in autumn from September 15 to November 15. These limits permit of the maturing of all ordinary farm crops, especially the grain crops.

Relative humidity

At a definite temperature, the atmosphere can hold only a certain amount of water vapor. When the air can hold no more, it is said to be saturated. When it is not saturated, the amount of water vapor actually held by the air is expressed in percentages of the quantity required for saturation. A relative humidity of 100 per cent means that the air is saturated; of 50 per cent, that it is only one half saturated. The drier the air is, the more rapidly does the water evaporate into it. To the dry-farmer, therefore, the relative humidity or degree of dryness of the air is of very great importance. According to Professor Henry, the chief characteristics of the geographic distribution of relative humidity in the United States are as follows:—

(1) Along the coasts there is a belt of high humidity at all seasons, the percentage of saturation ranging from 75 to 80 per cent.

(2) Inland, from about the 70th meridian eastward to the Atlantic coast, the amount varies between 70 and 75 per cent.

(3) The dry region is in the Southwest, where the average annual value is not over 50 per cent. In this region are included Arizona, New Mexico, western Colorado, and the greater portion of both Utah and Nevada. The amount of annual relative humidity in the remaining portion of the elevated district, between the 100th meridian on the east to the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades on the west, varies between 55 and 65 per cent. In July, August, and September, the mean values in the Southwest sink as low as 20 to 30 per cent, while along the Pacific coast districts they continue about 80 per cent the year round. In the Atlantic coast districts, and generally east from the Mississippi River, the variation from month to month is not great. April is probably the driest month of the year.

The air of the dry-farm territory, therefore, on the whole, contains considerably less than two thirds the amount of moisture carried by the air of the humid states. This means that evaporation from plant leaves and soil surfaces will go on more rapidly in semiarid than in humid regions. Against this danger, which cannot he controlled, the dry-farmer must take special precautions.


The amount of sunshine in a dry-farm section is also of importance. Direct sunshine promotes plant growth, but at the same time it accelerates the evaporation of water from the soil. The whole dry-farm territory receives more sunshine than do the humid sections. In fact, the amount of sunshine may roughly be said to increase as the annual rainfall decreases. Over the larger part of the arid and semiarid sections the sun shines over 70 per cent of the time.


The winds of any locality, owing to their moisture-dissipating power play an important part in the success of dry-farming. A persistent wind will offset much of the benefit of a heavy rainfall and careful cultivation. While great general laws have been formulated regarding the movements of the atmosphere, they are of minor value in judging the effect of wind on any farming district. Local observations, however, may enable the farmer to estimate the probable effect of the winds and thus to formulate proper cultural means of protection. In general, those living in a district are able to describe it without special observations as windy or quiet. In the dry-farm territory of the United States the one great region of relatively high and persistent winds is the Great Plains region east of the Rocky Mountains. Dry-farmers in that section will of necessity be obliged to adopt cultural methods that will prevent the excessive evaporation naturally induced by the unhindered wind, and the possible blowing of well-tilled fallow land.


The dry-farm territory is characterized by a low rainfall, averaging between 10 and 20 inches, the distribution of which falls into two distinct types: a heavy winter and spring with a light summer precipitation, and a heavy spring and summer with a light winter precipitation. Snow falls over most of the territory, but does not lie long outside of the mountain states. The whole dry-farm territory may be classed as temperate to cold; relatively high and persistent winds blow only over the Great Plains, though local conditions cause strong regular winds in many other places; the air is dry and the sunshine is very abundant. In brief, little water falls upon the dry-farm territory, and the climatic factors are of a nature to cause rapid evaporation.

In view of this knowledge, it is not surprising that thousands of farmers, employing, often carelessly agricultural methods developed in humid sections, have found only hardships and poverty on the present dry-farm empire of the United States.


Drouth is said to be the arch enemy of the dry-farmer, but few agree upon its meaning. For the purposes of this volume, drouth may be defined as a condition under which crops fail to mature because of an insufficient supply of water. Providence has generally been charged with causing drouths, but under the above definition, man is usually the cause. Occasionally, relatively dry years occur, but they are seldom dry enough to cause crop failures if proper methods of farming have been practiced. There are four chief causes of drouth: (1) Improper or careless preparation of the soil; (2) failure to store the natural precipitation in the soil; (3) failure to apply proper cultural methods for keeping the moisture in the soil until needed by plants, and (4) sowing too much seed for the available soil-moisture.

Crop failures due to untimely frosts, blizzards, cyclones, tornadoes, or hail may perhaps be charged to Providence, but the dry-farmer must accept the responsibility for any crop injury resulting from drouth. A fairly accurate knowledge of the climatic conditions of the district, a good understanding of the principles of agriculture without irrigation under a low rainfall, and a vigorous application of these principles as adapted to the local climatic conditions will make dry-farm failures a rarity.


Important as is the rainfall in making dry-farming successful, it is not more so than the soils of the dry-farms. On a shallow soil, or on one penetrated with gravel streaks, crop failures are probable even under a large rainfall; but a deep soil of uniform texture, unbroken by gravel or hardpan, in which much water may be stored, and which furnishes also an abundance of feeding space for the roots, will yield large crops even under a very small rainfall. Likewise, an infertile soil, though it be deep, and under a large precipitation, cannot be depended on for good crops; but a fertile soil, though not quite so deep, nor under so large a rainfall, will almost invariably bring large crops to maturity.

A correct understanding of the soil, from the surface to a depth of ten feet, is almost indispensable before a safe Judgment can be pronounced upon the full dry-farm possibilities of a district. Especially is it necessary to know (a) the depth, (b) the uniformity of structure, and (c) the relative fertility of the soil, in order to plan an intelligent system of farming that will be rationally adapted to the rainfall and other climatic factors.

It is a matter of regret that so much of our information concerning the soils of the dry-farm territory of the United States and other countries has been obtained according to the methods and for the needs of humid countries, and that, therefore, the special knowledge of our arid and semiarid soils needed for the development of dry-farming is small and fragmentary. What is known to-day concerning the nature of arid soils and their relation to cultural processes under a scanty rainfall is due very largely to the extensive researches and voluminous writings of Dr. E. W. Hilgard, who for a generation was in charge of the agricultural work of the state of California. Future students of arid soils must of necessity rest their investigations upon the pioneer work done by Dr. Hilgard. The contents of this chapter are in a large part gathered from Hilgard’s writings.

The formation of soils

“Soil is the more or less loose and friable material in which, by means of their roots, plants may or do find a foothold and nourishment, as well as other conditions of growth.” Soil is formed by a complex process, broadly known as _weathering, _from the rocks which constitute the earth’s crust. Soil is in fact only pulverized and altered rock. The forces that produce soil from rocks are of two distinct classes, _physical and chemical. _The physical agencies of soil production merely cause a pulverization of the rock; the chemical agencies, on the other hand, so thoroughly change the essential nature of the soil particles that they are no longer like the rock from which they were formed.

Of the physical agencies, _temperature changes _are first in order of time, and perhaps of first importance. As the heat of the day increases, the rock expands, and as the cold night approaches, contracts. This alternate expansion and contraction, in time, cracks the surfaces of the rocks. Into the tiny crevices thus formed water enters from the falling snow or rain. When winter comes, the water in these cracks freezes to ice, and in so doing expands and widens each of the cracks. As these processes are repeated from day to day, from year to year, and from generation to generation, the surfaces of the rocks crumble. The smaller rocks so formed are acted upon by the same agencies, in the same manner, and thus the process of pulverization goes on.

It is clear, then, that the second great agency of soil formation, which always acts in conjunction with temperature changes, is _freezing water. _The rock particles formed in this manner are often washed down into the mountain valleys, there caught by great rivers, ground into finer dust, and at length deposited in the lower valleys. _Moving water _thus becomes another physical agency of soil production. Most of the soils covering the great dry-farm territory of the United States and other countries have been formed in this way.

In places, glaciers moving slowly down the canons crush and grind into powder the rock over which they pass and deposit it lower down as soils. In other places, where strong winds blow with frequent regularity, sharp soil grains are picked up by the air and hurled against the rocks, which, under this action, are carved into fantastic forms. In still other places, the strong winds carry soil over long distances to be mixed with other soils. Finally, on the seashore the great waves dashing against the rocks of the coast line, and rolling the mass of pebbles back and forth, break and pulverize the rock until soil is formed._ Glaciers, winds, _and _waves _are also, therefore, physical agencies of soil formation.

It may be noted that the result of the action of all these agencies is to form a rock powder, each particle of which preserves the composition that it had while it was a constituent part of the rock. It may further be noted that the chief of these soil-forming agencies act more vigorously in arid than in humid sections. Under the cloudless sky and dry atmosphere of regions of limited rainfall, the daily and seasonal temperature changes are much greater than in sections of greater rainfall. Consequently the pulverization of rocks goes on most rapidly in dry-farm districts. Constant heavy winds, which as soil formers are second only to temperature changes and freezing water, are also usually more common in arid than in humid countries. This is strikingly shown, for instance, on the Colorado desert and the Great Plains.

The rock powder formed by the processes above described is continually being acted upon by agencies, the effect of which is to change its chemical composition. Chief of these agencies is _water, _which exerts a solvent action on all known substances. Pure water exerts a strong solvent action, but when it has been rendered impure by a variety of substances, naturally occurring, its solvent action is greatly increased.

The most effective water impurity, considering soil formation, is the gas, _carbon dioxid. _This gas is formed whenever plant or animal substances decay, and is therefore found, normally, in the atmosphere and in soils. Rains or flowing water gather the carbon dioxid from the atmosphere and the soil; few natural waters are free from it. The hardest rock particles are disintegrated by carbonated water, while limestones, or rocks containing lime, are readily dissolved.

The result of the action of carbonated water upon soil particles is to render soluble, and therefore more available to plants, many of the important plant-foods. In this way the action of water, holding in solution carbon dioxid and other substances, tends to make the soil more fertile.

The second great chemical agency of soil formation is the oxygen of the air. Oxidation is a process of more or less rapid burning, which tends to accelerate the disintegration of rocks.

Finally, the _plants _growing in soils are powerful agents of soil formation. First, the roots forcing their way into the soil exert a strong pressure which helps to pulverize the soil grains; secondly, the acids of the plant roots actually dissolve the soil, and third, in the mass of decaying plants, substances are formed, among them carbon dioxid, that have the power of making soils more soluble.

It may be noted that moisture, carbon dioxid, and vegetation, the three chief agents inducing chemical changes in soils, are most active in humid districts. While, therefore, the physical agencies of soil formation are most active in arid climates, the same cannot be said of the chemical agencies. However, whether in arid or humid climates, the processes of soil formation, above outlined, are essentially those of the “fallow” or resting-period given to dry-farm lands. The fallow lasts for a few months or a year, while the process of soil formation is always going on and has gone on for ages; the result, in quality though not in quantity, is the same—the rock particles are pulverized and the plant-foods are liberated. It must be remembered in this connection that climatic differences may and usually do influence materially the character of soils formed from one and the same kind of rock.

Characteristics of arid soils

The net result of the processes above described Is a rock powder containing a great variety of sizes of soil grains intermingled with clay. The larger soil grains are called sand; the smaller, silt, and those that are so small that they do not settle from quiet water after 24 hours are known as clay.

Clay differs materially from sand and silt, not only in size of particles, but also in properties and formation. It is said that clay particles reach a degree of fineness equal to 1/2500 of an inch. Clay itself, when wet and kneaded, becomes plastic and adhesive and is thus easily distinguished from sand. Because of these properties, clay is of great value in holding together the larger soil grains in relatively large aggregates which give soils the desired degree of filth. Moreover, clay is very retentive of water, gases, and soluble plant-foods, which are important factors in successful agriculture. Soils, in fact, are classified according to the amount of clay that they contain. Hilgard suggests the following classification:—

Very sandy soils 0.5 to 3 per cent clay
Ordinary sandy soils 3.0 to 10 per cent clay
Sandy loams 10.0 to 15 per cent clay
Clay loams 15.0 to 25 per cent clay
Clay soils 25.0 to 35 per cent clay
Heavy clay soils 35.0 per cent and over

Clay may be formed from any rock containing some form of combined silica (quartz). Thus, granites and crystalline rocks generally, volcanic rocks, and shales will produce clay if subjected to the proper climatic conditions. In the formation of clay, the extremely fine soil particles are attacked by the soil water and subjected to deep-going chemical changes. In fact, clay represents the most finely pulverized and most highly decomposed and hence in a measure the most valuable portion of the soil. In the formation of clay, water is the most active agent, and under humid conditions its formation is most rapid.

It follows that dry-farm soils formed under a more or less rainless climate contain less clay than do humid soils. This difference is characteristic, and accounts for the statement frequently made that heavy clay soils are not the best for dry-farm purposes. The fact is, that heavy clay soils are very rare in arid regions; if found at all, they have probably been formed under abnormal conditions, as in high mountain valleys, or under prehistoric humid climates.

_Sand.—_The sand-forming rocks that are not capable of clay production usually consist of _uncombined silica _or quartz, which when pulverized by the soil-forming agencies give a comparatively barren soil. Thus it has come about that ordinarily a clayey soil is considered “strong” and a sandy soil “weak.” Though this distinction is true in humid climates where clay formation is rapid, it is not true in arid climates, where true clay is formed very slowly. Under conditions of deficient rainfall, soils are naturally less clayey, but as the sand and silt particles are produced from rocks which under humid conditions would yield clay, arid soils are not necessarily less fertile.

Experiment has shown that the fertility in the sandy soils of arid sections is as large and as available to plants as in the clayey soils of humid regions. Experience in the arid section of America, in Egypt, India, and other desert-like regions has further proved that the sands of the deserts produce excellent crops whenever water is applied to them. The prospective dry-farmer, therefore, need not be afraid of a somewhat sandy soil, provided it has been formed under arid conditions. In truth, a degree of sandiness is characteristic of dry-farm soils.

The _humus _content forms another characteristic difference between arid and humid soils. In humid regions plants cover the soil thickly; in arid regions they are bunched scantily over the surface; in the former case the decayed remnants of generations of plants form a large percentage of humus in the upper soil; in the latter, the scarcity of plant life makes the humus content low. Further, under an abundant rainfall the organic matter in the soil rots slowly; whereas in dry warm climates the decay is very complete. The prevailing forces in all countries of deficient rainfall therefore tend to yield soils low in humus.

While the total amount of humus in arid soils is very much lower than in humid soils, repeated investigation has shown that it contains about 3-1/2 times more nitrogen than is found in humus formed under an abundant rainfall. Owing to the prevailing sandiness of dry-farm soils, humus is not needed so much to give the proper filth to the soil as in the humid countries where the content of clay is so much higher. Since, for dry-farm purposes, the nitrogen content is the most important quality of the humus, the difference between arid and humid soils, based upon the humus content, is not so great as would appear at first sight.

_Soil and subsoil.—_In countries of abundant rainfall, a great distinction exists between the soil and the subsoil. The soil is represented by the upper few inches which are filled with the remnants of decayed vegetable matter and modified by plowing, harrowing, and other cultural operations. The subsoil has been profoundly modified by the action of the heavy rainfall, which, in soaking through the soil, has carried with it the finest soil grains, especially the clay, into the lower soil layers.

In time, the subsoil has become more distinctly clayey than the topsoil. Lime and other soil ingredients have likewise been carried down by the rains and deposited at different depths in the soil or wholly washed away. Ultimately, this results in the removal from the topsoil of the necessary plant-foods and the accumulation in the subsoil of the fine clay particles which so compact the subsoil as to make it difficult for roots and even air to penetrate it. The normal process of weathering or soil disintegration will then go on most actively in the topsoil and the subsoil will remain unweathered and raw. This accounts for the well-known fact that in humid countries any subsoil that may have been plowed up is reduced to a normal state of fertility and crop production only after several years of exposure to the elements. The humid farmer, knowing this, is usually very careful not to let his plow enter the subsoil to any great depth.

In the arid regions or wherever a deficient rainfall prevails, these conditions are entirely reversed. The light rainfall seldom completely fills the soil pores to any considerable depth, but it rather moves down slowly as a him, enveloping the soil grains. The soluble materials of the soil are, in part at least, dissolved and carried down to the lower limit of the rain penetration, but the clay and other fine soil particles are not moved downward to any great extent. These conditions leave the soil and subsoil of approximately equal porosity. Plant roots can then penetrate the soil deeply, and the air can move up and down through the soil mass freely and to considerable depths. As a result, arid soils are weathered and made suitable for plant nutrition to very great depths. In fact, in dry-farm regions there need be little talk about soil and subsoil, since the soil is uniform in texture and usually nearly so in composition, from the top down to a distance of many feet.

Many soil sections 50 or more feet in depth are exposed in the dry-farming territory of the United States, and it has often been demonstrated that the subsoil to any depth is capable of producing, without further weathering, excellent yields of crops. This granular, permeable structure, characteristic of arid soils, is perhaps the most important single quality resulting from rock disintegration under arid conditions. As Hilgard remarks, it would seem that the farmer in the arid region owns from three to four farms, one above the other, as compared with the same acreage in the eastern states.

This condition is of the greatest importance in developing the principles upon which successful dry-farming rests. Further, it may be said that while in the humid East the farmer must be extremely careful not to turn up with his plow too much of the inert subsoil, no such fear need possess the western farmer. On the contrary, he should use his utmost endeavor to plow as deeply as possible in order to prepare the very best reservoir for the falling waters and a place for the development of plant roots.

_Gravel seams.—_It need be said, however, that in a number of localities in the dry-farm territory the soils have been deposited by the action of running water in such a way that the otherwise uniform structure of the soil is broken by occasional layers of loose gravel. While this is not a very serious obstacle to the downward penetration of roots, it is very serious in dry-farming, since any break in the continuity of the soil mass prevents the upward movement of water stored in the lower soil depths. The dry-farmer should investigate the soil which he intends to use to a depth of at least 8 to 10 feet to make sure, first of all, that he has a continuous soil mass, not too clayey in the lower depths, nor broken by deposits of gravel.

_Hardpan.—_Instead of the heavy clay subsoil of humid regions, the so-called hardpan occurs in regions of limited rainfall. The annual rainfall, which is approximately constant, penetrates from year to year very nearly to the same depth. Some of the lime found so abundantly in arid soils is dissolved and worked down yearly to the lower limit of the rainfall and left there to enter into combination with other soil ingredients. Continued through long periods of time this results in the formation of a layer of calcareous material at the average depth to which the rainfall has penetrated the soil. Not only is the lime thus carried down, but the finer particles are carried down in like manner. Especially where the soil is poor in lime is the clay worked down to form a somewhat clayey hardpan. A hardpan formed in such a manner is frequently a serious obstacle to the downward movement of the roots, and also prevents the annual precipitation from moving down far enough to be beyond the influence of the sunshine and winds. It is fortunate, however, that in the great majority of instances this hardpan gradually disappears under the influence of proper methods of dry-farm tillage. Deep plowing and proper tillage, which allow the rain waters to penetrate the soil, gradually break up and destroy the hardpan, even when it is 10 feet below the surface. Nevertheless, the farmer should make sure whether or not the hardpan does exist in the soil and plan his methods accordingly. If a hardpan is present, the land must be fallowed more carefully every other year, so that a large quantity of water may be stored in the soil to open and destroy the hardpan.

Of course, in arid as in humid countries, it often happens that a soil is underlaid, more or less near the surface, by layers of rock, marl deposits, and similar impervious or hurtful substances. Such deposits are not to be classed with the hardpans that occur normally wherever the rainfall is small.

_Leaching.—_Fully as important as any of the differences above outlined are those which depend definitely upon the leaching power of a heavy rainfall. In countries where the rainfall is 30 inches or over, and in many places where the rainfall is considerably less, the water drains through the soil into the standing ground water. There is, therefore, in humid countries, a continuous drainage through the soil after every rain, and in general there is a steady downward movement of soil-water throughout the year. As is clearly shown by the appearance, taste, and chemical composition of drainage waters, this process leaches out considerable quantities of the soluble constituents of the soil.

When the soil contains decomposing organic matter, such as roots, leaves, stalks, the gas carbon dioxid is formed, which, when dissolved in water, forms a solution of great solvent power. Water passing through well-cultivated soils containing much humus leaches out very much more material than pure water could do. A study of the composition of the drainage waters from soils and the waters of the great rivers shows that immense quantities of soluble soil constituents are taken out of the soil in countries of abundant rainfall. These materials ultimately reach the ocean, where they are and have been concentrated throughout the ages. In short, the saltiness of the ocean is due to the substances that have been washed from the soils in countries of abundant rainfall.

In arid regions, on the other hand, the rainfall penetrates the soil only a few feet. In time, it is returned to the surface by the action of plants or sunshine and evaporated into the air. It is true that under proper methods of tillage even the light rainfall of arid and semiarid regions may he made to pass to considerable soil depths, yet there is little if any drainage of water through the soil into the standing ground water. The arid regions of the world, therefore, contribute proportionately a small amount of the substances which make up the salt of the sea.

_Alkali soils.—_Under favorable conditions it sometimes happens that the soluble materials, which would normally be washed out of humid soils, accumulate to so large a degree in arid soils as to make the lands unfitted for agricultural purposes. Such lands are called alkali lands. Unwise irrigation in arid climates frequently produces alkali spots, but many occur naturally. Such soils should not be chosen for dry-farm purposes, for they are likely to give trouble.

_Plant-food content.—_This condition necessarily leads at once to the suggestion that the soils from the two regions must differ greatly in their fertility or power to produce and sustain plant life. It cannot be believed that the water-washed soils of the East retain as much fertility as the dry soils of the West. Hilgard has made a long and elaborate study of this somewhat difficult question and has constructed a table showing the composition of typical soils of representative states in the arid and humid regions. The following table shows a few of the average results obtained by him:—

Partial Percentage Composition

Source of soil Humid Arid
Number of samples analyzed 696 573
Insoluble residue 84.17 69.16
Soluble silica 4.04 6.71
Alumina 3.66 7.61
Lime 0.13 1.43
Potash 0.21 0.67
Phos. Acid 0.12 0.16
Humus 1.22 1.13

Soil chemists have generally attempted to arrive at a determination of the fertility of soil by treating a carefully selected and prepared sample with a certain amount of acid of definite strength. The portion which dissolves under the influence of acids has been looked upon as a rough measure of the possible fertility of the soil.

The column headed “Insoluble Residue” shows the average proportions of arid and humid soils which remain undissolved by acids. It is evident at once that the humid soils are much less soluble in acids than arid soils, the difference being 84 to 69. Since the only plant-food in soils that may be used for plant production is that which is soluble, it follows that it is safe to assume that arid soils are generally more fertile than humid soils. This is borne out by a study of the constituents of the soil. For instance, potash, one of the essential plant foods ordinarily present in sufficient amount, is found in humid soils to the extent of 0.21 per cent, while in arid soils the quantity present is 0.67 per cent, or over three times as much. Phosphoric acid, another of the very important plant-foods, is present in arid soils in only slightly higher quantities than in humid soils. This explains the somewhat well-known fact that the first fertilizer ordinarily required by arid soils is some form of phosphorus:

The difference in the chemical composition of arid and humid soils is perhaps shown nowhere better than in the lime content. There is nearly eleven times more lime in arid than in humid soils. Conditions of aridity favor strongly the formation of lime, and since there is very little leaching of the soil by rainfall, the lime accumulates in the soil.

The presence of large quantities of lime in arid soils has a number of distinct advantages, among which the following are most important: (1) It prevents the sour condition frequently present in humid climates, where much organic material is incorporated with the soil. (2) When other conditions are favorable, it encourages bacterial life which, as is now a well-known fact, is an important factor in developing and maintaining soil fertility. (3) By somewhat subtle chemical changes it makes the relatively small percentages of other plant-foods notably phosphoric acid and potash, more available for plant growth. (4) It aids to convert rapidly organic matter into humus which represents the main portion of the nitrogen content of the soil.

Of course, an excess of lime in the soil may be hurtful, though less so in arid than in humid regions. Some authors state that from 8 to 20 per cent of calcium carbonate makes a soil unfitted for plant growth. There are, however, a great many agricultural soils covering large areas and yielding very abundant crops which contain very much larger quantities of calcium carbonate. For instance, in the Sanpete Valley of Utah, one of the most fertile sections of the Great Basin, agricultural soils often contain as high as 40 per cent of calcium carbonate, without injury to their crop-producing power.

In the table are two columns headed “Soluble Silica” and “Alumina,” in both of which it is evident that a very much larger per cent is found in the arid than in the humid soils. These soil constituents indicate the condition of the soil with reference to the availability of its fertility for plant use. The higher the percentage of soluble silica and alumina, the more thoroughly decomposed, in all probability, is the soil as a whole and the more readily can plants secure their nutriment from the soil. It will be observed from the table, as previously stated, that more humus is found in humid than in arid soils, though the difference is not so large as might be expected. It should be recalled, however, that the nitrogen content of humus formed under rainless conditions is many times larger than that of humus formed in rainy countries, and that the smaller per cent of humus in dry-farming countries is thereby offset.

All in all, the composition of arid soils is very much more favorable to plant growth than that of humid soils. As will be shown in Chapter IX, the greater fertility of arid soils is one of the chief reasons for dry-farming success. Depth of the soil alone does not suffice. There must be a large amount of high fertility available for plants in order that the small amount of water can be fully utilized in plant growth.

_Summary of characteristics.—_Arid soils differ from humid soils in that they contain: less clay; more sand, but of fertile nature because it is derived from rocks that in humid countries would produce clay; less humus, but that of a kind which contains about 3-1/2 times more nitrogen than the humus of humid soils; more lime, which helps in a variety of ways to improve the agricultural value of soils; more of all the essential plant-foods, because the leaching by downward drainage is very small in countries of limited rainfall.

Further, arid soils show no real difference between soil and subsoil; they are deeper and more permeable; they are more uniform in structure; they have hardpans instead of clay subsoil, which, however, disappear under the influence of cultivation; their subsoils to a depth of ten feet or more are as fertile as the topsoil, and the availability of the fertility is greater. The failure to recognize these characteristic differences between arid and humid soils has been the chief cause for many crop failures in the more or less rainless regions of the world.

This brief review shows that, everything considered, arid soils are superior to humid soils. In ease of handling, productivity, certainty of crop-lasting quality, they far surpass the soils of the countries in which scientific agriculture was founded. As Hilgard has suggested, the historical datum that the majority of the most populous and powerful historical peoples of the world have been located on soils that thirst for water, may find its explanation in the intrinsic value of arid soils. From Babylon to the United States is a far cry; but it is one that shouts to the world the superlative merits of the soil that begs for water. To learn how to use the “desert” is to make it “blossom like the rose.”

Soil divisions

The dry-farm territory of the United States may be divided roughly into five great soil districts, each of which includes a great variety of soil types, most of which are poorly known and mapped. These districts are:—

1. Great Plains district.
2. Columbia River district
3. Great Basin district.
4. Colorado River district.
5. California district.

_Great Plains district.—_On the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, extending eastward to the extreme boundary of the dry-farm territory, are the soils of the High Plains and the Great Plains. This vast soil district belongs to the drainage basin of the Missouri, and includes North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and parts of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Minnesota. The soils of this district are usually of high fertility. They have good lasting power, though the effect of the higher rainfall is evident in their composition. Many of the distinct types of the plains soils have been determined with considerable care by Snyder and Lyon, and may be found described in Bailey’s “Cyclopedia of American Agriculture,” Vol. I.

_Columbia River district.—_The second great soil district of the dry-farming territory is located in the drainage basin of the Columbia River, and includes Idaho and the eastern two thirds of Washington and Oregon. The high plains of this soil district are often spoken of as the Palouse country. The soils of the western part of this district are of basaltic origin; over the southern part of Idaho the soils have been made from a somewhat recent lava flow which in many places is only a few feet below the surface. The soils of this district are generally of volcanic origin and very much alike. They are characterized by the properties which normally belong to volcanic soils; somewhat poor in lime, but rich in potash and phosphoric acid. They last well under ordinary methods of tillage.

_The Great Basin.—_The third great soil district is included in the Great Basin, which covers nearly all of Nevada, half of Utah, and takes small portions out of Idaho, Oregon, and southern California. This basin has no outlet to the sea. Its rivers empty into great saline inland lakes, the chief of which is the Great Salt Lake. The sizes of these interior lakes are determined by the amounts of water flowing into them and the rates of evaporation of the water into the dry air of the region.

In recent geological times, the Great Basin was filled with water, forming a vast fresh-water lake known as Lake Bonneville, which drained into the Columbia River. During the existence of this lake, soil materials were washed from the mountains into the lake and deposited on the lake bottom. When at length, the lake disappeared, the lake bottom was exposed and is now the farming lands of the Great Basin district. The soils of this district are characterized by great depth and uniformity, an abundance of lime, and all the essential plant-foods with the exception of phosphoric acid, which, while present in normal quantities, is not unusually abundant. The Great Basin soils are among the most fertile on the American Continent.

_Colorado River district.—_The fourth soil district lies in the drainage basin of the Colorado River It includes much of the southern part of Utah, the eastern part of Colorado, part of New Mexico, nearly all of Arizona, and part of southern California. This district, in its northern part, is often spoken of as the High Plateaus. The soils are formed from the easily disintegrated rocks of comparatively recent geological origin, which themselves are said to have been formed from deposits in a shallow interior sea which covered a large part of the West. The rivers running through this district have cut immense canons with perpendicular walls which make much of this country difficult to traverse. Some of the soils are of an extremely fine nature, settling firmly and requiring considerable tillage before they are brought to a proper condition of tilth. In many places the soils are heavily charged with calcium sulfate, or crystals of the ordinary land plaster. The fertility of the soils, however, is high, and when they are properly cultivated, they yield large and excellent crops.

_California district.—_The fifth soil district lies in California in the basin of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. The soils are of the typical arid kind of high fertility and great lasting powers. They represent some of the most valuable dry-farm districts of the West. These soils have been studied in detail by Hilgard.

_Dry-farming in the five districts.—_It is interesting to note that in all of these five great soil districts dry-farming has been tried with great success. Even in the Great Basin and the Colorado River districts, where extreme desert conditions often prevail and where the rainfall is slight, it has been found possible to produce profitable crops without irrigation. It is unfortunate that the study of the dry-farming territory of the United States has not progressed far enough to permit a comprehensive and correct mapping of its soils. Our knowledge of this subject is, at the best, fragmentary. We know, however, with certainty that the properties which characterize arid soils, as described in this chapter’ are possessed by the soils of the dry-farming territory, including the five great districts just enumerated. The characteristics of arid id soils increase as the rainfall decreases and other conditions of aridity increase. They are less marked as we go eastward or westward toward the regions of more abundant rainfall; that is to say, the most highly developed arid soils are found in the Great Basin and Colorado River districts. The least developed are on the eastern edge of the Great Plains.

The judging of soils

A chemical analysis of a soil, unless accompanied by a large amount of other information, is of little value to the farmer. The main points in judging a prospective dry-farm are: the depth of the soil, the uniformity of the soil to a depth of at least 10 feet, the native vegetation, the climatic conditions as relating to early and late frosts, the total annual rainfall and its distribution, and the kinds and yields of crops that have been grown in the neighborhood.

The depth of the soil is best determined by the use of an auger. A simple soil auger is made from the ordinary carpenter’s auger, 1-1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, by lengthening its shaft to 3 feet or more. Where it is not desirable to carry sectional augers, it is often advisable to have three augers made: one 3 feet, the other 6, and the third 9 or 10 feet in length. The short auger is used first and the others afterwards as the depth of the boring increases. The boring should he made in a large number of average places—preferably one boring or more on each acre if time and circumstances permit—and the results entered on a map of the farm. The uniformity of the soil is observed as the boring progresses. If gravel layers exist, they will necessarily stop the progress of the boring. Hardpans of any kind will also be revealed by such an examination.

The climatic information must be gathered from the local weather bureau and from older residents of the section.

The native vegetation is always an excellent index of dry-farm possibilities. If a good stand of native grasses exists, there can scarcely be any doubt about the ultimate success of dry-farming under proper cultural methods. A healthy crop of sagebrush is an almost absolutely certain indication that farming without irrigation is feasible. The rabbit brush of the drier regions is also usually a good indication, though it frequently indicates a soil not easily handled. Greasewood, shadscale, and other related plants ordinarily indicate heavy clay soils frequently charged with alkali. Such soils should be the last choice for dry-farming purposes, though they usually give good satisfaction under systems of irrigation. If the native cedar or other native trees grow in profusion, it is another indication of good dry-farm possibilities.


The great depth and high fertility of the soils of arid and semiarid regions have made possible the profitable production of agricultural plants under a rainfall very much lower than that of humid regions. To make the principles of this system fully understood, it is necessary to review briefly our knowledge of the root systems of plants growing under arid conditions.

Functions of roots

The roots serve at least three distinct uses or purposes: First, they give the plant a foothold in the earth; secondly, they enable the plant to secure from the soil the large amount of water needed in plant growth, and, thirdly, they enable the plant to secure the indispensable mineral foods which can be obtained only from the soil. So important is the proper supply of water and food in the growth of a plant that, in a given soil, the crop yield is usually in direct proportion to the development of the root system. Whenever the roots are hindered in their development, the growth of the plant above ground is likewise retarded, and crop failure may result. The importance of roots is not fully appreciated because they are hidden from direct view. Successful dry-farming consists, largely in the adoption of practices that facilitate a full and free development-of plant roots. Were it not that the nature of arid soils, as explained in preceding chapters, is such that full root development is comparatively easy, it would probably be useless to attempt to establish a system of dry-farming.

Kinds of roots

The root is the part of the plant that is found underground. It has numerous branches, twigs, and filaments. The root which first forms when the seed bursts is known as the primary root. From this primary root other roots develop, which are known as secondary roots. When the primary root grows more rapidly than the secondary roots, the so-called taproot, characteristic of lucerne, clover, and similar plants, is formed. When, on the other hand, the taproot grows slowly or ceases its growth, and the numerous secondary roots grow long, a fibrous root system results, which is characteristic of the cereals, grasses, corn, and other similar plants. With any type of root, the tendency of growth is downward; though under conditions that are not favorable for the downward penetration of the roots the lateral extensions may be very large and near the surface

Extent of roots

A number of investigators have attempted to determine the weight of the roots as compared with the weight of the plant above ground, hut the subject, because of its great experimental difficulties, has not been very accurately explained. Schumacher, experimenting about 1867, found that the roots of a well-established field of clover weighed as much as the total weight of the stems and leaves of the year’s crop, and that the weight of roots of an oat crop was 43 per cent of the total weight of seed and straw. Nobbe, a few years later, found in one of his experiments that the roots of timothy weighed 31 per cent of the weight of the hay. Hosaeus, investigating the same subject about the same time, found that the weight of roots of one of the brome grasses was as great as the weight of the part above ground; of serradella, 77 per cent; of flax, 34 per cent; of oats, 14 per cent; of barley, 13 per cent, and of peas, 9 per cent. Sanborn, working at the Utah Station in 1893, found results very much the same

Although these results are not concordant, they show that the weight of the roots is considerable, in many cases far beyond the belief of those who have given the subject little or no attention. It may be noted that on the basis of the figures above obtained, it is very probable that the roots in one acre of an average wheat crop would weigh in the neighborhood of a thousand pounds—possibly considerably more. It should be remembered that the investigations which yielded the preceding results were all conducted in humid climates and at a time when the methods for the study of the root systems were poorly developed. The data obtained, therefore, represent, in all probability, minimum results which would be materially increased should the work be repeated now.

The relative weights of the roots and the stems and the leaves do not alone show the large quantity of roots; the total lengths of the roots are even more striking. The German investigator, Nobbe, in a laborious experiment conducted about 1867, added the lengths of all the fine roots from each of various plants. He found that the total length of roots, that is, the sum of the lengths of all the roots, of one wheat plant was about 268 feet, and that the total length of the roots of one plant of rye was about 385 feet. King, of Wisconsin, estimates that in one of his experiments, one corn plant produced in the upper 3 feet of soil 1452 feet of roots. These surprisingly large numbers indicate with emphasis the thoroughness with which the roots invade the soil.

Depth of root penetration

The earlier root studies did not pretend to determine the depth to which roots actually penetrate the earth. In recent years, however, a number of carefully conducted experiments were made by the New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, Colorado, and especially the North Dakota stations to obtain accurate information concerning the depth to which agricultural plants penetrate soils. It is somewhat regrettable, for the purpose of dry-farming, that these states, with the exception of Colorado, are all in the humid or sub-humid area of the United States. Nevertheless, the conclusions drawn from the work are such that they may be safely applied in the development of the principles of dry-farming.

There is a general belief among farmers that the roots of all cultivated crops are very near the surface and that few reach a greater depth than one or two feet. The first striking result of the American investigations was that every crop, without exception, penetrates the soil deeper than was thought possible in earlier days. For example, it was found that corn roots penetrated fully four feet into the ground and that they fully occupied all of the soil to that depth.

On deeper and somewhat drier soils, corn roots went down as far as eight feet. The roots of the small grains,—wheat, oats, barley,—penetrated the soil from four to eight or ten feet. Various perennial grasses rooted to a depth of four feet the first year; the next year, five and one half feet; no determinations were made of the depth of the roots in later years, though it had undoubtedly increased. Alfalfa was the deepest rooted of all the crops studied by the American stations. Potato roots filled the soil fully to a depth of three feet; sugar beets to a depth of nearly four feet.

Sugar Beet Roots

In every case, under conditions prevailing in the experiments, and which did not have in mind the forcing of the roots down to extraordinary depths, it seemed that the normal depth of the roots of ordinary field crops was from three to eight feet. Sub-soiling and deep plowing enable the roots to go deeper into the soil. This work has been confirmed in ordinary experience until there can be little question about the accuracy of the results.

Almost all of these results were obtained in humid climates on humid soils, somewhat shallow, and underlain by a more or less infertile subsoil. In fact, they were obtained under conditions really unfavorable to plant growth. It has been explained in Chapter V that soils formed under arid or semiarid conditions are uniformly deep and porous and that the fertility of the subsoil is, in most cases, practically as great as of the topsoil. There is, therefore, in arid soils, an excellent opportunity for a comparatively easy penetration of the roots to great depths and, because of the available fertility, a chance throughout the whole of the subsoil for ample root development. Moreover, the porous condition of the soil permits the entrance of air, which helps to purify the soil atmosphere and thereby to make the conditions more favorable for root development. Consequently it is to be expected that, in arid regions, roots will ordinarily go to a much greater depth than in humid regions.

It is further to be remembered that roots are in constant search of food and water and are likely to develop in the directions where there is the greatest abundance of these materials. Under systems of dry-farming the soil water is stored more or less uniformly to considerable depths—ten feet or more—and in most cases the percentage of moisture in the spring and summer is as large or larger some feet below the surface than in the upper two feet. The tendency of the root is, then, to move downward to depths where there is a larger supply of water. Especially is this tendency increased by the available soil fertility found throughout the whole depth of the soil mass.

It has been argued that in many of the irrigated sections the roots do not penetrate the soil to great depths. This is true, because by the present wasteful methods of irrigation the plant receives so much water at such untimely seasons that the roots acquire the habit of feeding very near the surface where the water is so lavishly applied. This means not only that the plant suffers more greatly in times of drouth, but that, since the feeding ground of the roots is smaller, the crop is likely to be small.

These deductions as to the depth to which plant roots will penetrate the soil in arid regions are fully corroborated by experiments and general observation. The workers of the Utah Station have repeatedly observed plant roots on dry-farms to a depth of ten feet. Lucerne roots from thirty to fifty feet in length are frequently exposed in the gullies formed by the mountain torrents. Roots of trees, similarly, go down to great depths. Hilgard observes that he has found roots of grapevines at a depth of twenty-two feet below the surface, and quotes Aughey as having found roots of the native Shepherdia in Nebraska to a depth of fifty feet. Hilgard further declares that in California fibrous-rooted plants, such as wheat and barley, may descend in sandy soils from four to seven feet. Orchard trees in the arid West, grown properly, are similarly observed to send their roots down to great depths. In fact, it has become a custom in many arid regions where the soils are easily penetrable to say that the root system of a tree corresponds in extent and branching to the part of the tree above ground.

Now, it is to be observed that, generally, plants grown in dry climates send their roots straight down into the soil; whereas in humid climates, where the topsoil is quite moist and the subsoil is hard, roots branch out laterally and fill the upper foot or two of the soil. A great deal has been said and written about the danger of deep cultivation, because it tends to injure the roots that feed near the surface. However true this may be in humid countries, it is not vital in the districts primarily interested in dry-farming; and it is doubtful if the objection is as valid in humid countries as is often declared. True, deep cultivation, especially when performed near the plant or tree, destroys the surface-feeding roots, but this only tends to compel the deeper lying roots to make better use of the subsoil.

When, as in arid regions, the subsoil is fertile and furnishes a sufficient amount of water, destroying the surface roots is no handicap whatever. On the contrary, in times of drouth, the deep-lying roots feed and drink at their leisure far from the hot sun or withering winds, and the plants survive and arrive at rich maturity, while the plants with shallow roots wither and die or are so seriously injured as to produce an inferior crop. Therefore, in the system of dry-farming as developed in this volume, it must be understood that so far as the farmer has power, the roots must be driven downward into the soil, and that no injury needs to be apprehended from deep and vigorous cultivation.

One of the chief attempts of the dry-farmer must be to see to it that the plants root deeply. This can be done only by preparing the right kind of seed-bed and by having the soil in its lower depths well-stored with moisture, so that the plants may be invited to descend. For that reason, an excess of moisture in the upper soil when the young plants are rooting is really an injury to them.


The large amount of water required for the production of plant substance is taken from the soil by the roots. Leaves and stems do not absorb appreciable quantities of water. The scanty rainfall of dry-farm districts or the more abundant precipitation of humid regions must, therefore, be made to enter the soil in such a manner as to be readily available as soil-moisture to the roots at the right periods of plant growth.

In humid countries, the rain that falls during the growing season is looked upon, and very properly, as the really effective factor in the production of large crops. The root systems of plants grown under such humid conditions are near the surface, ready to absorb immediately the rains that fall, even if they do not soak deeply into the soil. As has been shown in Chapter IV, it is only over a small portion of the dry-farm territory that the bulk of the scanty precipitation occurs during the growing season. Over a large portion of the arid and semiarid region the summers are almost rainless and the bulk of the precipitation comes in the winter, late fall, or early spring when plants are not growing. If the rains that fall during the growing season are indispensable in crop production, the possible area to be reclaimed by dry-farming will be greatly limited. Even when much of the total precipitation comes in summer, the amount in dry-farm districts is seldom sufficient for the proper maturing of crops. In fact, successful dry-farming depends chiefly upon the success with which the rains that fall during any season of the year may be stored and kept in the soil until needed by plants in their growth. The fundamental operations of dry-farming include a soil treatment which enables the largest possible proportion of the annual precipitation to be stored in the soil. For this purpose, the deep, somewhat porous soils, characteristic of arid regions, are unusually well adapted.

Alway’s demonstration

An important and unique demonstration of the possibility of bringing crops to maturity on the moisture stored in the soil at the time of planting has been made by Alway. Cylinders of galvanized iron, 6 feet long, were filled with soil as nearly as possible in its natural position and condition Water was added until seepage began, after which the excess was allowed to drain away. When the seepage had closed, the cylinders were entirely closed except at the surface. Sprouted grains of spring wheat were placed in the moist surface soil, and 1 inch of dry soil added to the surface to prevent evaporation. No more water was added; the air of the greenhouse was kept as dry as possible. The wheat developed normally. The first ear was ripe in 132 days after planting and the last in 143 days. The three cylinders of soil from semiarid western Nebraska produced 37.8 grams of straw and 29 ears, containing 415 kernels weighing 11.188 grams. The three cylinders of soil from humid eastern Nebraska produced only 11.2 grams of straw and 13 ears containing 114 kernels, weighing 3 grams. This experiment shows conclusively that rains are not needed during the growing season, if the soil is well filled with moisture at seedtime, to bring crops to maturity.

What becomes of the rainfall?

The water that falls on the land is disposed of in three ways: First, under ordinary conditions, a large portion runs off without entering the soil; secondly, a portion enters the soil, but remains near the surface, and is rapidly evaporated back into the air; and, thirdly, a portion enters the lower soil layers, from which it is removed at later periods by several distinct processes. The run-off is usually large and is a serious loss, especially in dry-farming regions, where the absence of luxuriant vegetation, the somewhat hard, sun-baked soils, and the numerous drainage channels, formed by successive torrents, combine to furnish the rains with an easy escape into the torrential rivers. Persons familiar with arid conditions know how quickly the narrow box canyons, which often drain thousands of square miles, are filled with roaring water after a comparatively light rainfall.

The run-off

The proper cultivation of the soil diminishes very greatly the loss due to run-off, but even on such soils the proportion may often be very great. Farrel observed at one of the Utah stations that during a torrential rain—2.6 inches in 4 hours—the surface of the summer fallowed plats was packed so solid that only one fourth inch, or less than one tenth of the whole amount, soaked into the soil, while on a neighboring stubble field, which offered greater hindrance to the run-off, 1-1/2 inches or about 60 per cent were absorbed.

It is not possible under any condition to prevent the run-off altogether, although it can usually be reduced exceedingly. It is a common dry-farm custom to plow along the slopes of the farm instead of plowing up and down them. When this is done, the water which runs down the slopes is caught by the succession of furrows and in that way the runoff is diminished. During the fallow season the disk and smoothing harrows are run along the hillsides for the same purpose and with results that are nearly always advantageous to the dry-farmer. Of necessity, each man must study his own farm in order to devise methods that will prevent the run-off.

The structure of soils

Before examining more closely the possibility of storing water in soils a brief review of the structure of soils is desirable. As previously explained, soil is essentially a mixture of disintegrated rock and the decomposing remains of plants. The rock particles which constitute the major portion of soils vary greatly in size. The largest ones are often 500 times the sizes of the smallest. It would take 50 of the coarsest sand particles, and 25,000 of the finest silt particles, to form one lineal inch. The clay particles are often smaller and of such a nature that they cannot be accurately measured. The total number of soil particles in even a small quantity of cultivated soil is far beyond the ordinary limits of thought, ranging from 125,000 particles of coarse sand to 15,625,000,000,000 particles of the finest silt in one cubic inch. In other words, if all the particles in one cubic inch of soil consisting of fine silt were placed side by side, they would form a continuous chain over a thousand miles long. The farmer, when he tills the soil, deals with countless numbers of individual soil grains, far surpassing the understanding of the human mind. It is the immense number of constituent soil particles that gives to the soil many of its most valuable properties.

It must be remembered that no natural soil is made up of particles all of which are of the same size; all sizes, from the coarsest sand to the finest clay, are usually present. These particles of all sizes are not arranged in the soil in a regular, orderly way; they are not placed side by side with geometrical regularity; they are rather jumbled together in every possible way. The larger sand grains touch and form comparatively large interstitial spaces into which the finer silt and clay grains filter. Then, again, the clay particles, which have cementing properties, bind, as it were, one particle to another. A sand grain may have attached to it hundreds, or it may be thousands, of the smaller silt grains; or a regiment of smaller soil grains may themselves be clustered into one large grain by cementing power of the clay. Further, in the presence of lime and similar substances, these complex soil grains are grouped into yet larger and more complex groups. The beneficial effect of lime is usually due to this power of grouping untold numbers of soil particles into larger groups. When by correct soil culture the individual soil grains are thus grouped into large clusters, the soil is said to be in good tilth. Anything that tends to destroy these complex soil grains, as, for instance, plowing the soil when it is too wet, weakens the crop-producing power of the soil. This complexity of structure is one of the chief reasons for the difficulty of understanding clearly the physical laws governing soils.

Pore-space of soils

It follows from this description of soil structure that the soil grains do not fill the whole of the soil space. The tendency is rather to form clusters of soil grains which, though touching at many points, leave comparatively large empty spaces. This pore space in soils varies greatly, but with a maximum of about 55 per cent. In soils formed under arid conditions the percentage of pore-space is somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 per cent. There are some arid soils, notably gypsum soils, the particles of which are so uniform size that the pore-space is exceedingly small. Such soils are always difficult to prepare for agricultural purposes.

It is the pore-space in soils that permits the storage of soil-moisture; and it is always important for the farmer so to maintain his soil that the pore-space is large enough to give him the best results, not only for the storage of moisture, but for the growth and development of roots, and for the entrance into the soil of air, germ life, and other forces that aid in making the soil fit for the habitation of plants. This can always be best accomplished, as will be shown hereafter, by deep plowing, when the soil is not too wet, the exposure of the plowed soil to the elements, the frequent cultivation of the soil through the growing season, and the admixture of organic matter. The natural soil structure at depths not reached by the plow evidently cannot be vitally changed by the farmer.

Hygroscopic soil-water

Under normal conditions, a certain amount of water is always found in all things occurring naturally, soils included. Clinging to every tree, stone, or animal tissue is a small quantity of moisture varying with the temperature, the amount of water in the air, and with other well-known factors. It is impossible to rid any natural substance wholly of water without heating it to a high temperature. This water which, apparently, belongs to all natural objects is commonly called hygroscopic water. Hilgard states that the soils of the arid regions contain, under a temperature of 15 deg C. and an atmosphere saturated with water, approximately 5-1/2 per cent of hygroscopic water. In fact, however, the air over the arid region is far from being saturated with water and the temperature is even higher than 15 deg C., and the hygroscopic moisture actually found in the soils of the dry-farm territory is considerably smaller than the average above given. Under the conditions prevailing in the Great Basin the hygroscopic water of soils varies from .75 per cent to 3-1/2 per cent; the average amount is not far from 12 per cent.

Whether or not the hygroscopic water of soils is of value in plant growth is a disputed question. Hilgard believes that the hygroscopic moisture can be of considerable help in carrying plants through rainless summers, and further, that its presence prevents the heating of the soil particles to a point dangerous to plant roots. Other authorities maintain earnestly that the hygroscopic soil-water is practically useless to plants. Considering the fact that wilting occurs long before the hygroscopic water contained in the soil is reached, it is very unlikely that water so held is of any real benefit to plant growth.

Gravitational water

It often happens that a portion of the water in the soil is under the immediate influence of gravitation. For instance, a stone which, normally, is covered with hygroscopic water is dipped into water The hydroscopic water is not thereby affected, but as the stone is drawn out of the water a good part of the water runs off. This is gravitational water That is, the gravitational water of soils is that portion of the soil-water which filling the soil pores, flows downward through the soil under the influence of gravity. When the soil pores are completely filled, the maximum amount of gravitational water is found there. In ordinary dry-farm soils this total water capacity is between 35 and 40 per cent of the dry weight of soil.

The gravitational soil-water cannot long remain in that condition; for, necessarily, the pull of gravity moves it downward through the soil pores and if conditions are favorable, it finally reaches the standing water-table, whence it is carried to the great rivers, and finally to the ocean. In humid soils, under a large precipitation, gravitational water moves down to the standing water-table after every rain. In dry-farm soils the gravitational water seldom reaches the standing water-table; for, as it moves downward, it wets the soil grains and remains in the capillary condition as a thin film around the soil grains.

To the dry-farmer, the full water capacity is of importance only as it pertains to the upper foot of soil. If, by proper plowing and cultivation, the upper soil be loose and porous, the precipitation is allowed to soak quickly into the soil, away from the action of the wind and sun. From this temporary reservoir, the water, in obedience to the pull of gravity, will move slowly downward to the greater soil depths, where it will be stored permanently until needed by plants. It is for this reason that dry-farmers find it profitable to plow in the fall, as soon as possible after harvesting. In fact, Campbell advocates that the harvester be followed immediately by the disk, later to be followed by the plow The essential thing is to keep the topsoil open and receptive to a rain.

Capillary soil-water

The so-called capillary soil-water is of greatest importance to the dry-farmer. This is the water that clings as a film around a marble that has been dipped into water. There is a natural attraction between water and nearly all known substances, as is witnessed by the fact that nearly all things may be moistened. The water is held around the marble because the attraction between the marble and the water is greater than the pull of gravity upon the water. The greater the attraction, the thicker the film; the smaller the attraction, the thinner the film will be. The water that rises in a capillary glass tube when placed in water does so by virtue of the attraction between water and glass. Frequently, the force that makes capillary water possible is called surface tension.

Whenever there is a sufficient amount of water available, a thin film of water is found around every soil grain; and where the soil grains touch, or where they are very near together, water is held pretty much as in capillary tubes. Not only are the soil particles enveloped by such a film, but the plant roots foraging in the soil are likewise covered; that is, the whole system of soil grains and roots is covered, under favorable conditions, with a thin film of capillary water. It is the water in this form upon which plants draw during their periods of growth. The hygroscopic water and the gravitational water are of comparatively little value in plant growth.

Field capacity of soils for capillary water

The tremendously large number of soil grains found in even a small amount of soil makes it possible for the soil to hold very large quantities of capillary water. To illustrate: In one cubic inch of sand soil the total surface exposed by the soil grains varies from 42 square inches to 27 square feet; in one cubic inch of silt soil, from 27 square feet to 72 square feet, and in one cubic inch of an ordinary soil the total surface exposed by the soil grains is about 25 square feet. This means that the total surface of the soil grains contained in a column of soil 1 square foot at the top and 10 feet deep is approximately 10 acres. When even a thin film of water is spread over such a large area, it is clear that the total amount of water involved must be large It is to be noticed, therefore, that the fineness of the soil particles previously discussed has a direct bearing upon the amount of water that soils may retain for the use of plant growth. As the fineness of the soil grains increases, the total surface increases’ and the water-holding capacity also increases.

Naturally, the thickness of a water film held around the soil grains is very minute. King has calculated that a film 275 millionths of an inch thick, clinging around the soil particles, is equivalent to 14.24 per cent of water in a heavy clay; 7.2 per cent in a loam; 5.21 per cent in a sandy loam, and 1.41 per cent in a sandy soil.

It is important to know the largest amount of water that soils can hold in a capillary condition, for upon it depend, in a measure, the possibilities of crop production under dry-farming conditions. King states that the largest amount of capillary water that can be held in sandy loams varies from 17.65 per cent to 10.67 per cent; in clay loams from 22.67 per cent to 18.16 per cent, and in humus soils (which are practically unknown in dry-farm sections) from 44.72 per cent to 21.29 per cent. These results were not obtained under dry-farm conditions and must be confirmed by investigations of arid soils.

The water that falls upon dry-farms is very seldom sufficient in quantity to reach the standing water-table, and it is necessary, therefore, to determine the largest percentage of water that a soil can hold under the influence of gravity down to a depth of 8 or 10 feet—the depth to which the roots penetrate and in which root action is distinctly felt. This is somewhat difficult to determine because the many conflicting factors acting upon the soil-water are seldom in equilibrium. Moreover, a considerable time must usually elapse before the rain-water is thoroughly distributed throughout the soil. For instance, in sandy soils, the downward descent of water is very rapid; in clay soils, where the preponderance of fine particles makes minute soil pores, there is considerable hindrance to the descent of water, and it may take weeks or months for equilibrium to be established. It is believed that in a dry-farm district, where the major part of the precipitation comes during winter, the early springtime, before the spring rains come, is the best time for determining the maximum water capacity of a soil. At that season the water-dissipating influences, such as sunshine and high temperature, are at a minimum, and a sufficient time has elapsed to permit the rains of fall and winter to distribute themselves uniformly throughout the soil. In districts of high summer precipitation, the late fall after a fallow season will probably be the best time for the determination of the field-water capacity.

Experiments on this subject have been conducted at the Utah Station. As a result of several thousand trials it was found that, in the spring, a uniform, sandy loam soil of true arid properties contained, from year to year, an average of nearly 16-1/2 per cent of water to a depth of 8 feet. This appeared to be practically the maximum water capacity of that soil under field conditions, and it may be called the field capacity of that soil for capillary water. Other experiments on dry-farms showed the field capacity of a clay soil to a depth of 8 feet to be 19 per cent; of a clay loam, to be 18 per cent; of a loam, 17 per cent; of another loam somewhat more sandy, 16 per cent; of a sandy loam, 14-1/2 per cent; and of a very sandy loam, 14 per cent. Leather found that in the calcareous arid soil of India the upper 5 feet contained 18 per cent of water at the close of the wet season.

It may be concluded, therefore, that the field-water capacities of ordinary dry-farm soils are not very high, ranging from 15 to 20 per cent, with an average for ordinary dry-farm soils in the neighborhood of 16 or 17 per cent. Expressed in another way this means that a layer of water from 2 to 3 inches deep can be stored in the soil to a depth of 12 inches. Sandy soils will hold less water than clayey ones. It must not be forgotten that in the dry-farm region are numerous types of soils, among them some consisting chiefly of very fine soil grains and which would; consequently, possess field-water capacities above the average here stated. The first endeavor of the dry-farmer should be to have the soil filled to its full field-water capacity before a crop is planted.

Downward movement of soil-moisture

One of the chief considerations in a discussion of the storing of water in soils is the depth to which water may move under ordinary dry-farm conditions. In humid regions, where the water table is near the surface and where the rainfall is very abundant, no question has been raised concerning the possibility of the descent of water through the soil to the standing water. Considerable objection, however, has been offered to the doctrine that the rainfall of arid districts penetrates the soil to any great extent. Numerous writers on the subject intimate that the rainfall under dry-farm conditions reaches at the best the upper 3 or 4 feet of soil. This cannot be true, for the deep rich soils of the arid region, which never have been disturbed by the husbandman, are moist to very great depths. In the deserts of the Great Basin, where vegetation is very scanty, soil borings made almost anywhere will reveal the fact that moisture exists in considerable quantities to the full depth of the ordinary soil auger, usually 10 feet. The same is true for practically every district of the arid region.

Such water has not come from below, for in the majority of cases the standing water is 50 to 500 feet below the surface. Whitney made this observation many years ago and reported it as a striking feature of agriculture in arid regions, worthy of serious consideration. Investigations made at the Utah Station have shown that undisturbed soils within the Great Basin frequently contain, to a depth of 10 feet, an amount of water equivalent to 2 or 3 years of the rainfall which normally occurs in that locality. These quantities of water could not be found in such soils, unless, under arid conditions, water has the power to move downward to considerably greater depths than is usually believed by dry-farmers.

In a series of irrigation experiments conducted at the Utah Station it was demonstrated that on a loam soil, within a few hours after an irrigation, some of the water applied had reached the eighth foot, or at least had increased the percentage of water in the eighth foot. In soil that was already well filled with water, the addition of water was felt distinctly to the full depth of 8 feet. Moreover, it was observed in these experiments that even very small rains caused moisture changes to considerable depths a few hours after the rain was over. For instance, 0.14 of an inch of rainfall was felt to a depth of 2 feet within 3 hours; 0.93 of an inch was felt to a depth of 3 feet within the same period.

To determine whether or not the natural winter precipitation, upon which the crops of a large portion of the dry-farm territory depend, penetrates the soil to any great depth a series of tests were undertaken. At the close of the harvest in August or September the soil was carefully sampled to a depth of 8 feet, and in the following spring similar samples were taken on the same soils to the same depth. In every case, it was found that the winter precipitation had caused moisture changes to the full depth reached by the soil auger. Moreover, these changes were so great as to lead the investigators to believe that moisture changes had occurred to greater depths.

In districts where the major part of the precipitation occurs during the summer the same law is undoubtedly in operation; but, since evaporation is most active in the summer, it is probable that a smaller proportion reaches the greater soil depths. In the Great Plains district, therefore, greater care will have to be exercised during the summer in securing proper water storage than in the Great Basin, for instance. The principle is, nevertheless, the same. Burr, working under Great Plains conditions in Nebraska, has shown that the spring and summer rains penetrate the soil to the depth of 6 feet, the average depth of the borings, and that it undoubtedly affects the soil-moisture to the depth of 10 feet. In general, the dry-farmer may safely accept the doctrine that the water that falls upon his land penetrates the soil far beyond the immediate reach of the sun, though not so far away that plant roots cannot make use of it.

Importance of a moist subsoil

In the consideration of the downward movement of soil-water it is to be noted that it is only when the soil is tolerably moist that the natural precipitation moves rapidly and freely to the deeper soil layers. When the soil is dry, the downward movement of the water is much slower and the bulk of the water is then stored near the surface where the loss of moisture goes on most rapidly. It has been observed repeatedly in the investigations at the Utah Station that when desert land is broken for dry-farm purposes and then properly cultivated, the precipitation penetrates farther and farther into the soil with every year of cultivation. For example, on a dry-farm, the soil of which is clay loam, and which was plowed in the fall of 1904 and farmed annually thereafter, the eighth foot contained in the spring of 1905, 6.59 per cent of moisture; in the spring of 1906, 13.11 per cent, and in the spring of 1907, 14.75 per cent of moisture. On another farm, with a very sandy soil and also plowed in the fall of 1904, there was found in the eighth foot in the spring of 1905, 5.63 per cent of moisture, in the spring of 1906, 11.41 per cent of moisture, and in the spring of 1907, 15.49 per cent of moisture. In both of these typical cases it is evident that as the topsoil was loosened, the full field water capacity of the soil was more nearly approached to a greater depth. It would seem that, as the lower soil layers are moistened, the water is enabled, so to speak, to slide down more easily into the depths of the soil.

This is a very important principle for the dry farmer to understand. It is always dangerous to permit the soil of a dry-farm to become very dry, especially below the first foot. Dry-farms should be so manipulated that even at the harvesting season a comparatively large quantity of water remains in the soil to a depth of 8 feet or more. The larger the quantity of water in the soil in the fall, the more readily and quickly will the water that falls on the land during the resting period of fall, winter, and early spring sink into the soil and move away from the topsoil. The top or first foot will always contain the largest percentage of water because it is the chief receptacle of the water that falls as rain or snow but when the subsoil is properly moist, the water will more completely leave the topsoil. Further, crops planted on a soil saturated with water to a depth of 8 feet are almost certain to mature and yield well.

If the field-water capacity has not been filled, there is always the danger that an unusually dry season or a series of hot winds or other like circumstances may either seriously injure the crop or cause a complete failure. The dry-farmer should keep a surplus of moisture in the soil to be carried over from year to year, just as the wise business man maintains a sufficient working capital for the needs of his business. In fact, it is often safe to advise the prospective dry-farmer to plow his newly cleared or broken land carefully and then to grow no crop on it the first year, so that, when crop production begins, the soil will have stored in it an amount of water sufficient to carry a crop over periods of drouth. Especially in districts of very low rainfall is this practice to be recommended. In the Great Plains area, where the summer rains tempt the farmer to give less attention to the soil-moisture problem than in the dry districts with winter precipitation farther West, it is important that a fallow season be occasionally given the land to prevent the store of soil moisture from becoming dangerously low.

To what extent is the rainfall stored in soils?

What proportion of the actual amount of water falling upon the soil can be stored in the soil and carried over from season to season? This question naturally arises in view of the conclusion that water penetrates the soil to considerable depths. There is comparatively little available information with which to answer this question, because the great majority of students of soil moisture have concerned themselves wholly with the upper two, three, or four feet of soil. The results of such investigations are practically useless in answering this question. In humid regions it may be very satisfactory to confine soil-moisture investigations to the upper few feet; but in arid regions, where dry-farming is a living question, such a method leads to erroneous or incomplete conclusions.

Since the average field capacity of soils for water is about 2.5 inches per foot, it follows that it is possible to store 25 inches of water in 10 feet of soil. This is from two to one and a half times one year’s rainfall over the better dry-farming sections. Theoretically, therefore, there is no reason why the rainfall of one season or more could not be stored in the soil. Careful investigations have borne out this theory. Atkinson found, for example, at the Montana Station, that soil, which to a depth of 9 feet contained 7.7 per cent of moisture in the fall contained 11.5 per cent in the spring and, after carrying it through the summer by proper methods of cultivation, 11 per cent.

It may certainly be concluded from this experiment that it is possible to carry over the soil moisture from season to season. The elaborate investigations at the Utah Station have demonstrated that the winter precipitation, that is, the precipitation that comes during the wettest period of the year, may be retained in a large measure in the soil. Naturally, the amount of the natural precipitation accounted for in the upper eight feet will depend upon the dryness of the soil at the time the investigation commenced. If at the beginning of the wet season the upper eight feet of soil are fairly well stored with moisture, the precipitation will move down to even greater depths, beyond the reach of the soil auger. If, on the other hand, the soil is comparatively dry at the beginning of the season, the natural precipitation will distribute itself through the upper few feet, and thus be readily measured by the soil auger.

In the Utah investigations it was found that of the water which fell as rain and snow during the winter, as high as 95-1/2 per cent was found stored in the first eight feet of soil at the beginning of the growing season. Naturally, much smaller percentages were also found, but on an average, in soils somewhat dry at the beginning of the dry season, more than three fourths of the natural precipitation was found stored in the soil in the spring. The results were all obtained in a locality where the bulk of the precipitation comes in the winter, yet similar results would undoubtedly be obtained where the precipitation occurs mainly in the summer. The storage of water in the soil cannot be a whit less important on the Great Plains than in the Great Basin. In fact, Burr has clearly demonstrated for western Nebraska that over 50 per cent of the rainfall of the spring and summer may be stored in the soil to the depth of six feet. Without question, some is stored also at greater depths.

All the evidence at hand shows that a large portion of the precipitation falling upon properly prepared soil, whether it be summer or winter, is stored in the soil until evaporation is allowed to withdraw it Whether or not water so stored may be made to remain in the soil throughout the season or the year will be discussed in the next chapter. It must be said, however, that the possibility of storing water in the soil, that is, making the water descend to relatively great soil depths away from the immediate and direct action of the sunshine and winds, is the most fundamental principle in successful dry-farming.

The fallow

It may be safely concluded that a large portion of the water that falls as rain or snow may be stored in the soil to considerable depths (eight feet or more). However, the question remains, Is it possible to store the rainfall of successive years in the soil for the use of one crop? In short, Does the practice of clean fallowing or resting the ground with proper cultivation for one season enable the farmer to store in the soil the larger portion of the rainfall of two years, to be used for one crop? It is unquestionably true, as will be shown later, that clean fallowing or “summer tillage” is one of the oldest and safest practices of dry-farming as practiced in the West, but it is not generally understood why fallowing is desirable.

Considerable doubt has recently been cast upon the doctrine that one of the beneficial effects of fallowing in dry-farming is to store the rainfall of successive seasons in the soil for the use of one crop. Since it has been shown that a large proportion of the winter precipitation can be stored in the soil during the wet season, it merely becomes a question of the possibility of preventing the evaporation of this water during the drier season. As will be shown in the next chapter, this can well be effected by proper cultivation.

There is no good reason, therefore, for believing that the precipitation of successive seasons may not be added to water already stored in the soil. King has shown that fallowing the soil one year carried over per square foot, in the upper four feet, 9.38 pounds of water more than was found in a cropped soil in a parallel experiment; and, moreover, the beneficial effect of this. water advantage was felt for a whole succeeding season. King concludes, therefore, that one of the advantages of fallowing is to increase the moisture content of the soil. The Utah experiments show that the tendency of fallowing is always to increase the soil-moisture content. In dry-farming, water is the critical factor, and any practice that helps to conserve water should be adopted. For that reason, fallowing, which gathers soil-moisture, should be strongly advocated. In Chapter IX another important value of the fallow will be discussed.

In view of the discussion in this chapter it is easily understood why students of soil-moisture have not found a material increase in soil-moisture due to fallowing. Usually such investigations have been made to shallow depths which already were fairly well filled with moisture. Water falling upon such soils would sink beyond the depth reached by the soil augers, and it became impossible to judge accurately of the moisture-storing advantage of the fallow. A critical analysis of the literature on this subject will reveal the weakness of most experiments in this respect.

It may be mentioned here that the only fallow that should be practiced by the dry-farmer is the clean fallow. Water storage is manifestly impossible when crops are growing upon a soil. A healthy crop of sagebrush, sunflowers, or other weeds consumes as much water as a first-class stand of corn, wheat, or potatoes. Weeds should be abhorred by the farmer. A weedy fallow is a sure forerunner of a crop failure. How to maintain a good fallow is discussed in Chapter VIII, under the head of Cultivation. Moreover, the practice of fallowing should be varied with the climatic conditions. In districts of low rainfall, 10-15 inches, the land should be clean summer-fallowed every other year; under very low rainfall perhaps even two out of three years; in districts of more abundant rainfall, 15-20 inches, perhaps one year out of every three or four is sufficient. Where the precipitation comes during the growing season, as in the Great Plains area, fallowing for the storage of water is less important than where the major part of the rainfall comes during the fall and winter. However, any system of dry-farming that omits fallowing wholly from its practices is in danger of failure in dry years.

Deep plowing for water storage

It has been attempted in this chapter to demonstrate that water falling upon a soil may descend to great depths, and may be stored in the soil from year to year, subject to the needs of the crop that may be planted. By what cultural treatment may this downward descent of the water be accelerated by the farmer? First and foremost, by plowing at the right time and to the right depth. Plowing should be done deeply and thoroughly so that the falling water may immediately be drawn down to the full depth of the loose, spongy, plowed soil, away from the action of the sunshine or winds. The moisture thus caught will slowly work its way down into the lower layers of the soil. Deep plowing is always to be recommended for successful dry-farming.

In humid districts where there is a great difference between the soil and the subsoil, it is often dangerous to turn up the lifeless subsoil, but in arid districts where there is no real differentiation between the soil and the subsoil, deep plowing may safely be recommended. True, occasionally, soils are found in the dry-farm territory which are underlaid near the surface by an inert clay or infertile layer of lime or gypsum which forbids the farmer putting the plow too deeply into the soil. Such soils, however’ are seldom worth while trying for dry-farm purposes. Deep plowing must be practiced for the best dry-farming results.

It naturally follows that subsoiling should be a beneficial practice on dry-farms. Whether or not the great cost of subsoiling is offset by the resulting increased yields is an open question; it is, in fact, quite doubtful. Deep plowing done at the right time and frequently enough is possibly sufficient. By deep plowing is meant stirring or turning the soil to a depth of six to ten inches below the surface of the land.

Fall plowing far water storage

It is not alone sufficient to plow and to plow deeply; it is also necessary that the plowing be done at the right time. In the very great majority of cases over the whole dry-farm territory, plowing should be done in the fall. There are three reasons for this: First, after the crop is harvested, the soil should be stirred immediately, so that it can be exposed to the full action of the weathering agencies, whether the winters be open or closed. If for any reason plowing cannot be done early it is often advantageous to follow the harvester with a disk and to plow later when convenient. The chemical effect on the soil resulting from the weathering, made possible by fall plowing, as will be shown in Chapter IX, is of itself so great as to warrant the teaching of the general practice of fall plowing. Secondly, the early stirring of the soil prevents evaporation of the moisture in the soil during late summer and the fall. Thirdly, in the parts of the dry-farm territory where much precipitation occurs in the fall, winter, or early spring, fall plowing permits much of this precipitation to enter the soil and be stored there until needed by plants.

A number of experiment stations have compared plowing done in the early fall with plowing done late in the fall or in the spring, and with almost no exception it has been found that early fall plowing is water-conserving and in other ways advantageous. It was observed on a Utah dry-farm that the fall-plowed land contained, to a depth of 10 feet, 7.47 acre-inches more water than the adjoining spring-plowed land—a saving of nearly one half of a year’s precipitation. The ground should be plowed in the early fall as soon as possible after the crop is harvested. It should then be left in the rough throughout the winter, so that it may be mellowed and broken down by the elements. The rough lend further has a tendency to catch and hold the snow that may be blown by the wind, thus insuring a more even distribution of the water from the melting snow.

A common objection to fall plowing is that the ground is so dry in the fall that it does not plow up well, and that the great dry clods of earth do much to injure the physical condition of the soil. It is very doubtful if such an objection is generally valid, especially if the soil is so cropped as to leave a fair margin of moisture in the soil at harvest time. The atmospheric agencies will usually break down the clods, and the physical result of the treatment will be beneficial. Undoubtedly, the fall plowing of dry land is somewhat difficult, but the good results more than pay the farmer for his trouble. Late fall plowing, after the fall rains have softened the land, is preferable to spring plowing. If for any reason the farmer feels that he must practice spring plowing, he should do it as early as possible in the spring. Of course, it is inadvisable to plow the soil when it is so wet as to injure its tilth seriously, but as soon as that danger period has passed, the plow should be placed in the ground. The moisture in the soil will thereby be conserved, and whatever water may fall during the spring months will be conserved also. This is of especial importance in the Great Plains region and in any district where the precipitation comes in the spring and winter months.

Likewise, after fall plowing, the land must be well stirred in the early spring with the disk harrow or a similar implement, to enable the spring rains to enter the soil easily and to prevent the evaporation of the water already stored. Where the rainfall is quite abundant and the plowed land has been beaten down by the frequent rains, the land should be plowed again in the spring. Where such conditions do not exist, the treatment of the soil with the disk and harrow in the spring is usually sufficient.

In recent dry-farm experience it has been fairly completely demonstrated that, providing the soil is well stored with water, crops will mature even if no rain falls during the growing season. Naturally, under most circumstances, any rains that may fall on a well-prepared soil during the season of crop growth will tend to increase the crop yield, but some profitable yield is assured, in spite of the season, if the soil is well stored with water at seed time. This is an important principle in the system of dry-farming.


The demonstration in the last chapter that the water which falls as rain or snow may be stored in the soil for the use of plants is of first importance in dry-farming, for it makes the farmer independent, in a large measure, of the distribution of the rainfall. The dry-farmer who goes into the summer with a soil well stored with water cares little whether summer rains come or not, for he knows that his crops will mature in spite of external drouth. In fact, as will be shown later, in many dry-farm sections where the summer rains are light they are a positive detriment to the farmer who by careful farming has stored his deep soil with an abundance of water. Storing the soil with water is, however, only the first step in making the rains of fall, winter, or the preceding year available for plant growth. As soon as warm growing weather comes, water-dissipating forces come into play, and water is lost by evaporation. The farmer must, therefore, use all precautions to keep the moisture in the soil until such time as the roots of the crop may draw it into the plants to be used in plant production. That is, as far as possible, direct evaporation of water from the soil must be prevented.

Few farmers really realize the immense possible annual evaporation in the dry-farm territory. It is always much larger than the total annual rainfall. In fact, an arid region may be defined as one in which under natural conditions several times more water evaporates annually from a free water surface than falls as rain and snow. For that reason many students of aridity pay little attention to temperature, relative humidity, or winds, and simply measure the evaporation from a free water surface in the locality in question. In order to obtain a measure of the aridity, MacDougal has constructed the following table, showing the annual precipitation and the annual evaporation at several well-known localities in the dry-farm territory.

True, the localities included in the following table are extreme, but they illustrate the large possible evaporation, ranging from about six to thirty-five times the precipitation. At the same time it must be borne in mind that while such rates of evaporation may occur from free water surfaces, the evaporation from agricultural soils under like conditions is very much smaller.

Place Annual Precipitation Annual Evaporation Ratio
(In Inches) (In Inches)
El Paso, Texas 9.23 80 8.7
Fort Wingate,
New Mexico 14.00 80 5.7
Fort Yuma,
Arizona 2.84 100 35.2
Tucson, AZ 11.74 90 7.7
Mohave, CA 4.97 95 19.1
Nevada 4.50 80 17.5
Nevada 9.51 80 9.6
St. George, Utah 6.46 90 13.9
Fort Duchesne,
Utah 6.49 75 11.6
Oregon 9.01 70 7.8
Lost River,
Idaho 8.47 70 8.3
Wyoming 9.81 70 7.1
Torres, Mexico 16.97 100 6.0

To understand the methods employed for checking evaporation from the soil, it is necessary to review briefly the conditions that determine the evaporation of water into the air, and the manner in which water moves in the soil.

The formation of water vapor

Whenever water is left freely exposed to the air, it evaporates; that is, it passes into the gaseous state and mixes with the gases of the air. Even snow and ice give off water vapor, though in very small quantities. The quantity of water vapor which can enter a given volume of air is definitely limited. For instance, at the temperature of freezing water 2.126 grains of water vapor can enter one cubic foot of air, but no more. When air contains all the water possible, it is said to be saturated, and evaporation then ceases. The practical effect of this is the well-known experience that on the seashore, where the air is often very nearly fully saturated with water vapor, the drying of clothes goes on very slowly, whereas in the interior, like the dry-farming territory, away from the ocean, where the air is far from being saturated, drying goes on very rapidly.

The amount of water necessary to saturate air varies greatly with the temperature. It is to be noted that as the temperature increases, the amount of water that may be held by the air also increases; and proportionately more rapidly than the increase in temperature. This is generally well understood in common experience, as in drying clothes rapidly by hanging them before a hot fire. At a temperature of 100 deg F., which is often reached in portions of the dry-farm territory during the growing season, a given volume of air can hold more than nine times as much water vapor as at the temperature of freezing water. This is an exceedingly important principle in dry-farm practices, for it explains the relatively easy possibility of storing water during the fall and winter when the temperature is low and the moisture usually abundant, and the greater difficulty of storing the rain that falls largely, as in the Great Plains area, in the summer when water-dissipating forces are very active. This law also emphasizes the truth that it is in times of warm weather that every precaution must be taken to prevent the evaporation of water from the soil surface.

Temperature Grains of Water held in in Degrees F. One Cubic Foot of Air 32 2.126 40 2.862 50 4.089 60 5.756 70 7.992 80 10.949 90 14.810 100 19.790

It is of course well understood that the atmosphere as a whole is never saturated with water vapor. Such saturation is at the best only local, as, for instance, on the seashore during quiet days, when the layer of air over the water may be fully saturated, or in a field containing much water from which, on quiet warm days, enough water may evaporate to saturate the layer of air immediately upon the soil and around the plants. Whenever, in such cases, the air begins to move and the wind blows, the saturated air is mixed with the larger portion of unsaturated air, and evaporation is again increased. Meanwhile, it must be borne in mind that into a layer of saturated air resting upon a field of growing plants very little water evaporates, and that the chief water-dissipating power of winds lies in the removal of this saturated layer. Winds or air movements of any kind, therefore, become enemies of the farmer who depends upon a limited rainfall.

The amount of water actually found in a given volume of air at a certain temperature, compared with the largest amount it can hold, is called the relative humidity of the air. As shown in Chapter IV, the relative humidity becomes smaller as the rainfall decreases. The lower the relative humidity is at a given temperature, the more rapidly will water evaporate into the air. There is no more striking confirmation of this law than the fact that at a temperature of 90 deg sunstrokes and similar ailments are reported in great number from New York, while the people of Salt Lake City are perfectly comfortable. In New York the relative humidity in summer is about 73 per cent; in Salt Lake City, about 35 per cent. At a high summer temperature evaporation from the skin goes on slowly in New York and rapidly in Salt Lake City, with the resulting discomfort or comfort. Similarly, evaporation from soils goes on rapidly under a low and slowly under a high percentage of relative humidity.

Evaporation from water surfaces is hastened, therefore, by (1) an increase in the temperature, (2) an increase in the air movements or winds, and (3) a decrease in the relative humidity. The temperature is higher; the relative humidity lower, and the winds usually more abundant in arid than in humid regions. The dry-farmer must consequently use all possible precautions to prevent evaporation from the soil.

Conditions of evaporation from from soils

Evaporation does not alone occur from a surface of free water. All wet or moist substances lose by evaporation most of the water that they hold, providing the conditions of temperature and relative humidity are favorable. Thus, from a wet soil, evaporation is continually removing water. Yet, under ordinary conditions, it is impossible to remove all the water, for a small quantity is attracted so strongly by the soil particles that only a temperature above the boiling point of water will drive it out. This part of the soil is the hygroscopic moisture spoken of in the last chapter.

Moreover, it must be kept in mind that evaporation does not occur as rapidly from wet soil as from a water surface, unless all the soil pores are so completely filled with water that the soil surface is practically a water surface. The reason for this reduced evaporation from a wet soil is almost self-evident. There is a comparatively strong attraction between soil and water, which enables the moisture to cling as a thin capillary film around the soil particles, against the force of gravity. Ordinarily, only capillary water is found in well-tilled soil, and the force causing evaporation must be strong enough to overcome this attraction besides changing the water into vapor.

The less water there is in a soil, the thinner the water film, and the more firmly is the water held. Hence, the rate of evaporation decreases with the decrease in soil-moisture. This law is confirmed by actual field tests. For instance, as an average of 274 trials made at the Utah Station, it was found that three soils, otherwise alike, that contained, respectively, 22.63 per cent, 17.14 per cent, and 12.75 per cent of water lost in two weeks, to a depth of eight feet, respectively 21.0, 17. 1, and 10.0 pounds of water per square foot. Similar experiments conducted elsewhere also furnish proof of the correctness of this principle. From this point of view the dry-farmer does not want his soils to be unnecessarily moist. The dry-farmer can reduce the per cent of water in the soil without diminishing the total amount of water by so treating the soil that the water will distribute itself to considerable depths. This brings into prominence again the practices of fall plowing, deep plowing, subsoiling, and the choice of deep soils for dry-farming.

Very much for the same reasons, evaporation goes on more slowly from water in which salt or other substances have been dissolved. The attraction between the water and the dissolved salt seems to be strong enough to resist partially the force causing evaporation. Soil-water always contains some of the soil ingredients in solution, and consequently under the given conditions evaporation occurs more slowly from soil-water than from pure water. Now, the more fertile a soil is, that is, the more soluble plant-food it contains, the more material will be dissolved in the soil-water, and as a result the more slowly will evaporation take place. Fallowing, cultivation, thorough plowing and manuring, which increase the store of soluble plant-food, all tend to diminish evaporation. While these conditions may have little value in the eyes of the farmer who is under an abundant rainfall, they are of great importance to the dry-farmer. It is only by utilizing every possibility of conserving water and fertility that dry-farming may be made a perfectly safe practice.

Loss by evaporation chiefly at the surface

Evaporation goes on from every wet substance. Water evaporates therefore from the wet soil grains under the surface as well as from those at the surface. In developing a system of practice which will reduce evaporation to a minimum it must be learned whether the water which evaporates from the soil particles far below the surface is carried in large quantities into the atmosphere and thus lost to plant use. Over forty years ago, Nessler subjected this question to experiment and found that the loss by evaporation occurs almost wholly at the soil surface, and that very little if any is lost directly by evaporation from the lower soil layers. Other experimenters have confirmed this conclusion, and very recently Buckingham, examining the same subject, found that while there is a very slow upward movement of the soil gases into the atmosphere, the total quantity of the water thus lost by direct evaporation from soil, a foot below the surface, amounted at most to one inch of rainfall in six years. This is insignificant even under semiarid and arid conditions. However, the rate of loss of water by direct evaporation from the lower soil layers increases with the porosity of the soil, that is, with the space not filled with soil particles or water. Fine-grained soils, therefore, lose the least water in this manner. Nevertheless, if coarse-grained soils are well filled with water, by deep fall plowing and by proper summer fallowing for the conservation of moisture, the loss of moisture by direct evaporation from the lower soil layers need not be larger than from finer grained soils

Thus again are emphasized the principles previously laid down that, for the most successful dry-farming, the soil should always be kept well filled with moisture, even if it means that the land, after being broken, must lie fallow for one or two seasons, until a sufficient amount of moisture has accumulated. Further, the correlative principle is emphasized that the moisture in dry-farm lands should be stored deeply, away from the immediate action of the sun’s rays upon the land surface. The necessity for deep soils is thus again brought out.

The great loss of soil moisture due to an accumulation of water in the upper twelve inches is well brought out in the experiments conducted by the Utah Station. The following is selected from the numerous data on the subject. Two soils, almost identical in character, contained respectively 17.57 per cent and 16.55 per cent of water on an average to a depth of eight feet; that is, the total amount of water held by the two soils was practically identical. Owing to varying cultural treatment, the distribution of the water in the soil was not uniform; one contained 23.22 per cent and the other 16.64 per cent of water in the first twelve inches. During the first seven days the soil that contained the highest percentage of water in the first foot lost 13.30 pounds of water, while the other lost only 8.48 pounds per square foot. This great difference was due no doubt to the fact that direct evaporation takes place in considerable quantity only in the upper twelve inches of soil, where the sun’s heat has a full chance to act.

Any practice which enables the rains to sink quickly to considerable depths should be adopted by the dry-farmer. This is perhaps one of the great reasons for advocating the expensive but usually effective subsoil plowing on dry-farms. It is a very common experience, in the arid region, that great, deep cracks form during hot weather. From the walls of these cracks evaporation goes on, as from the topsoil, and the passing winds renew the air so that the evaporation may go on rapidly. The dry-farmer must go over the land as often as needs be with some implement that will destroy and fill up the cracks that may have been formed. In a field of growing crops this is often difficult to do; but it is not impossible that hand hoeing, expensive as it is, would pay well in the saving of soil moisture and the consequent increase in crop yield.

How soil water reaches the surface

It may be accepted as an established truth that the direct evaporation of water from wet soils occurs almost wholly at the surface. Yet it is well known that evaporation from the soil surface may continue until the soil-moisture to a depth of eight or ten feet or more is depleted. This is shown by the following analyses of dry-farm soil in early spring and midsummer. No attempt was made to conserve the moisture in the soil:—

Per cent of water in Early spring Midsummer 1st foot 20.84 8.83 2nd foot 20.06 8.87 3rd foot 19.62 11.03 4th foot 18.28 9.59 5th foot 18.70 11.27 6th foot 14.29 11.03 7th foot 14.48 8.95 8th foot 13.83 9.47 Avg 17.51 9.88

In this case water had undoubtedly passed by capillary movement from the depth of eight feet to a point near the surface where direct evaporation could occur. As explained in the last chapter, water which is held as a film around the soil particles is called capillary water; and it is in the capillary form that water may be stored in dry-farm soils. Moreover, it is the capillary soil-moisture alone which is of real value in crop production. This capillary water tends to distribute itself uniformly throughout the soil, in accordance with the prevailing conditions and forces. If no water is removed from the soil, in course of time the distribution of the soil-water will be such that the thickness of the film at any point in the soil mass is a direct resultant of the various forces acting at that particular point. There will then be no appreciable movement of the soil-moisture. Such a condition is approximated in late winter or early spring before planting begins. During the greater part of the year, however, no such quiescent state can occur, for there are numerous disturbing elements that normally are active, among which the three most effective are (l) the addition of water to the soil by rains; (2) the evaporation of water from the topsoil, due to the more active meteorological factors during spring, summer, and fall; and (3) the abstraction of water from the soil by plant roots.

Water, entering the soil, moves downward under the influence of gravity as gravitational water, until under the attractive influence of the soil it has been converted into capillary water and adheres to the soil particles as a film. If the soil were dry, and the film therefore thin, the rain water would move downward only a short distance as gravitational water; if the soil were wet, and the film therefore thick, the water would move down to a greater distance before being exhausted. If, as is often the case in humid districts, the soil is saturated, that is, the film is as thick as the particles can hold, the water would pass right through the soil and connect with the standing water below. This, of course, is seldom the case in dry-farm districts. In any soil, excepting one already saturated, the addition of water will produce a thickening of the soil-water film to the full descent of the water. This immediately destroys the conditions of equilibrium formerly existing, for the moisture is not now uniformly distributed. Consequently a process of redistribution begins which continues until the nearest approach to equilibrium is restored. In this process water will pass in every direction from the wet portion of the soil to the drier; it does not necessarily mean that water will actually pass from the wet portion to the drier portion; usually, at the driest point a little water is drawn from the adjoining point, which in turn draws from the next, and that from the next, until the redistribution is complete. The process is very much like stuffing wool into a sack which already is loosely filled. The new wool does not reach the bottom of the sack, yet there is more wool in the bottom than there was before.

If a plant-root is actively feeding some distance under the soil surface, the reverse process occurs. At the feeding point the root continually abstracts water from the soil grains and thus makes the film thinner in that locality. This causes a movement of moisture similar to the one above described, from the wetter portions of the soil to the portion being dried out by the action of the plant-root. Soil many feet or even rods distant may assist in supplying such an active root with moisture. When the thousands of tiny roots sent out by each plant are recalled. it may well be understood what a confusion of pulls and counter-pulls upon the soil-moisture exists in any cultivated soil. In fact, the soil-water film may be viewed as being in a state of trembling activity, tending to place itself in full equilibrium with the surrounding contending forces which, themselves, constantly change. Were it not that the water film held closely around the soil particles is possessed of extreme mobility, it would not be possible to meet the demands of the plants upon the water at comparatively great distances. Even as it is, it frequently happens that when crops are planted too thickly on dry-farms, the soil-moisture cannot move quickly enough to the absorbing roots to maintain plant growth, and crop failure results. Incidentally, this points to planting that shall be proportional to the moisture contained by the soil. See Chapter XI.

As the temperature rises in spring, with a decrease in the relative humidity, and an increase in direct sunshine, evaporation from the soil surface increases greatly. However, as the topsoil becomes drier, that is, as the water fihn becomes thinner, there is an attempt at readjustment, and water moves upward to take the place of that lost by evaporation. As this continues throughout the season, the moisture stored eight or ten feet or more below the surface is gradually brought to the top and evaporated, and thus lost to plant use.

The effect of rapid top drying of soils

As the water held by soils diminishes, and the water film around the soil grains becomes thinner, the capillary movement of the soil-water is retarded. This is easily understood by recalling that the soil particles have an attraction for water, which is of definite value, and may be measured by the thickest film that may be held against gravity. When the film is thinned, it does not diminish the attraction of the soil for water; it simply results in a stronger pull upon the water and a firmer holding of the film against the surfaces of the soil grains. To move soil-water under such conditions requires the expenditure of more energy than is necessary for moving water in a saturated or nearly saturated soil. Under like conditions, therefore, the thinner the soil-water film the more difficult will be the upward movement of the soil-water and the slower the evaporation from the topsoil.

As drying goes on, a point is reached at which the capillary movement of the water wholly ceases. This is probably when little more than the hygroscopic moisture remains. In fact, very dry soil and water repel each other. This is shown in the common experience of driving along a road in summer, immediately after a light shower. The masses of dust are wetted only on the outside, and as the wheels pass through them the dry dust is revealed. It is an important fact that very dry soil furnishes a very effective protection against the capillary movement of water.

In accordance with the principle above established if the surface soil could be dried to the point where capillarity is very slow, the evaporation would be diminished or almost wholly stopped. More than a quarter of a century ago, Eser showed experimentally that soil-water may be saved by drying the surface soil rapidly. Under dry-farm conditions it frequently occurs that the draft upon the water of the soil is so great that nearly all the water is quickly and so completely abstracted from the upper few inches of soil that they are left as an effective protection against further evaporation. For instance, in localities where hot dry winds are of common occurrence, the upper layer of soil is sometimes completely dried before the water in the lower layers can by slow capillary movement reach the top. The dry soil layer then prevents further loss of water, and the wind because of its intensity has helped to conserve the soil-moisture. Similarly in localities where the relative humidity is low, the sunshine abundant, and the temperature high, evaporation may go on so rapidly that the lower soil layers cannot supply the demands made, and the topsoil then dries out so completely as to form a protective covering against further evaporation. It is on this principle that the native desert soils of the United States, untouched by the plow, and the surfaces of which are sun-baked, are often found to possess large percentages of water at lower depths. Whitney recorded this observation with considerable surprise, many years ago, and other observers have found the same conditions at nearly all points of the arid region. This matter has been subjected to further study by Buckingham, who placed a variety of soils under artificially arid and humid conditions. It was found in every case that, the initial evaporation was greater under arid conditions, but as the process went on and the topsoil of the arid soil became dry, more water was lost under humid conditions. For the whole experimental period, also, more water was lost under humid conditions. It was notable that the dry protective layer was formed more slowly on alkali soils, which would point to the inadvisability of using alkali lands for dry-farm purposes. All in all, however, it appears “that under very arid conditions a soil automatically protects itself from drying by the formation of a natural mulch on the surface.”

Naturally, dry-farm soils differ greatly in their power of forming such a mulch. A heavy clay or a light sandy soil appears to have less power of such automatic protection than a loamy soil. An admixture of limestone seems to favor the formation of such a natural protective mulch. Ordinarily, the farmer can further the formation of a dry topsoil layer by stirring the soil thoroughly. This assists the sunshine and the air to evaporate the water very quickly. Such cultivation is very desirable for other reasons also, as will soon be discussed. Meanwhile, the water-dissipating forces of the dry-farm section are not wholly objectionable, for whether the land be cultivated or not, they tend to hasten the formation of dry surface layers of soil which guard against excessive evaporation. It is in moist cloudy weather, when the drying process is slow, that evaporation causes the greatest losses of soil-moisture.

The effect of shading

Direct sunshine is, next to temperature, the most active cause of rapid evaporation from moist soil surfaces. Whenever, therefore, evaporation is not rapid enough to form a dry protective layer of topsoil, shading helps materially in reducing surface losses of soil-water. Under very arid conditions, however, it is questionable whether in all cases shading has a really beneficial effect, though under semiarid or sub-humid conditions the benefits derived from shading are increased largely. Ebermayer showed in 1873 that the shading due to the forest cover reduced evaporation 62 per cent, and many experiments since that day have confirmed this conclusion. At the Utah Station, under arid conditions, it was found that shading a pot of soil, which otherwise was subjected to water-dissipating influences, saved 29 per cent of the loss due to evaporation from a pot which was not shaded. This principle cannot be applied very greatly in practice, but it points to a somewhat thick planting, proportioned to the water held by the soil. It also shows a possible benefit to be derived from the high header straw which is allowed to stand for several weeks in dry-farm sections where the harvest comes early and the fall plowing is done late, as in the mountain states. The high header stubble shades the ground very thoroughly. Thus the stubble may be made to conserve the soil-moisture in dry-farm sections, where grain is harvested by the “header” method.

A special case of shading is the mulching of land with straw or other barnyard litter, or with leaves, as in the forest. Such mulching reduces evaporation, but only in part, because of its shading action, since it acts also as a loose top layer of soil matter breaking communication with the lower soil layers.

Whenever the soil is carefully stirred, as will be described, the value of shading as a means or checking evaporation disappears almost entirely. It is only with soils which are tolerably moist at the surface that shading acts beneficially.

Alfalfa in cultivated rows. This practice is employed to make possible the growth of alfalfa and other perennial crops on arid lands without irrigation.

The effect of tillage

Capillary soil-moisture moves from particle to particle until the surface is reached. The closer the soil grains are packed together, the greater the number of points or contact, and the more easily will the movement of the soil-moisture proceed. If by any means a layer of the soil is so loosened as to reduce the number of points of contact, the movement of the soil-moisture is correspondingly hindered. The process is somewhat similar to the experience in large r airway stations. Just before train time a great crowd of people is gathered outside or the gates ready to show their tickets. If one gate is opened, a certain number of passengers can pass through each minute; if two are opened, nearly twice as many may be admitted in the same time; if more gates are opened, the passengers will be able to enter the train more rapidly. The water in the lower layers of the soil is ready to move upward whenever a call is made upon it. To reach the surface it must pass from soil grain to soil grain, and the larger the number of grains that touch, the more quickly and easily will the water reach the surface, for the points of contact of the soil particles may be likened to the gates of the railway station. Now if, by a thorough stirring and loosening of the topsoil, the number of points of contact between the top and subsoil is greatly reduced, the upward flow of water is thereby largely checked. Such a loosening of the topsoil for the purpose of reducing evaporation from the topsoil has come to be called cultivation, and includes plowing, harrowing, disking, hoeing, and other cultural operations by which the topsoil is stirred. The breaking of the points of contact between the top and subsoil is undoubtedly the main reason for the efficiency of cultivation, but it is also to be remembered that such stirring helps to dry the top soil very thoroughly, and as has been explained a layer of dry soil of itself is a very effective check upon surface evaporation.

That the stirring or cultivation of the topsoil really does diminish evaporation of water from the soil has been shown by numerous investigations. In 1868, Nessler found that during six weeks of an ordinary German summer a stirred soil lost 510 grams of water per square foot, while the adjoining compacted soil lost 1680 grams,—a saving due to cultivation of nearly 60 per cent. Wagner, testing the correctness of Nessler’s work, found, in 1874, that cultivation reduced the evaporation a little more than 60 per cent; Johnson, in 1878, confirmed the truth of the principle on American soils, and Levi Stockbridge, working about the same time, also on American soils, found that cultivation diminished evaporation on a clay soil about 23 per cent, on a sandy loam 55 per cent, and on a heavy loam nearly 13 per cent. All the early work done on this subject was done under humid conditions, and it is only in recent years that confirmation of this important principle has been obtained for the soils of the dry-farm region. Fortier, working under California conditions, determined that cultivation reduced the evaporation from the soil surface over 55 per cent. At the Utah Station similar experiments have shown that the saving of soil-moisture by cultivation was 63 per cent for a clay soil, 34 per cent for a coarse sand, and 13 per cent for a clay loam. Further, practical experience has demonstrated time and time again that in cultivation the dry-farmer has a powerful means of preventing evaporation from agricultural soils.

Closely connected with cultivation is the practice of scattering straw or other litter over the ground. Such artificial mulches are very effective in reducing evaporation. Ebermayer found that by spreading straw on the land, the evaporation was reduced 22 per cent; Wagner found under similar conditions a saving of 38 per cent, and these results have been confirmed by many other investigators. On the modern dry-farms, which are large in area, the artificial mulching of soils cannot become a very extensive practice, yet it is well to bear the principle in mind. The practice of harvesting dry-farm grain with the header and plowing under the high stubble in the fall is a phase of cultivation for water conservation that deserves special notice. The straw, thus incorporated into the soil, decomposes quite readily in spite of the popular notion to the contrary, and makes the soil more porous, and, therefore, more effectively worked for the prevention of evaporation. When this practice is continued for considerable periods, the topsoil becomes rich in organic matter, which assists in retarding evaporation, besides increasing the fertility of the land. When straw cannot be fed to advantage, as is yet the case on many of the western dry-farms, it would be better to scatter it over the land than to burn it, as is often done. Anything that covers the ground or loosens the topsoil prevents in a measure the evaporation of the water stored in lower soil depths for the use of crops.

Depth of cultivation

The all-important practice for the dry-farmer who is entering upon the growing season is cultivation. The soil must be covered continually with a deep layer of dry loose soil, which because of its looseness and dryness makes evaporation difficult. A leading question in connection with cultivation is the depth to which the soil should be stirred for the best results. Many of the early students of the subject found that a soil mulch only one half inch in depth was effective in retaining a large part of the soil-moisture which noncultivated soils would lose by evaporation. Soils differ greatly in the rate of evaporation from their surfaces. Some form a natural mulch when dried, which prevents further water loss. Others form only a thin hard crust, below which lies an active evaporating surface of wet soil. Soils which dry out readily and crumble on top into a natural mulch should be cultivated deeply, for a shallow cultivation does not extend beyond the naturally formed mulch. In fact, on certain calcareous soils, the surfaces of which dry out quickly and form a good protection against evaporation, shallow cultivations often cause a greater evaporation by disturbing the almost perfect natural mulch. Clay or sand soils, which do not so well form a natural mulch, will respond much better to shallow cultivations. In general, however, the deeper the cultivation, the more effective it is in reducing evaporation. Fortier, in the experiments in California to which allusion has already been made, showed the greater value of deep cultivation. During a period of fifteen days, beginning immediately after an irrigation, the soil which had not been mulched lost by evaporation nearly one fourth of the total amount of water that had been added. A mulch 4 inches deep saved about 72 per cent of the evaporation; a mulch 8 inches deep saved about 88 per cent, and a mulch 10 inches deep stopped evaporation almost wholly. It is a most serious mistake for the dry-farmer, who attempts cultivation for soil-moisture conservation, to fail to get the best results simply to save a few cents per acre in added labor.

When to cultivate or till

It has already been shown that the rate of evaporation is greater from a wet than from a dry surface. It follows, therefore, that the critical time for preventing evaporation is when the soil is wettest. After the soil is tolerably dry, a very large portion of the soil-moisture has been lost, which possibly might have been saved by earlier cultivation. The truth of this statement is well shown by experiments conducted by the Utah Station. In one case on a soil well filled with water, during a three weeks’ period, nearly one half of the total loss occurred the first, while only one fifth fell on the third week. Of the amount lost during the first week, over 60 per cent occurred during the first three days. Cultivation should, therefore, be practiced as soon as possible after conditions favorable for evaporation have been established. This means, first, that in early spring, just as soon as the land is dry enough to be worked without causing puddling, the soil should be deeply and thoroughly stirred. Spring plowing, done as early as possible, is an excellent practice for forming a mulch against evaporation. Even when the land has been fall-plowed, spring plowing is very beneficial, though on fall-plowed land the disk harrow is usually used in early spring, and if it is set at rather a sharp angle, and properly weighted, so that it cuts deeply into the ground, it is practically as effective as spring plowing. The chief danger to the dry-farmer is that he will permit the early spring days to slip by until, when at last he begins spring cultivation, a large portion of the stored soil-water has been evaporated. It may be said that deep fall plowing, by permitting the moisture to sink quickly into the lower layers of soil, makes it possible to get upon the ground earlier in the spring. In fact, unplowed land cannot be cultivated as early as that which has gone through the winter in a plowed condition

If the land carries a fall-sown crop, early spring cultivation is doubly important. As soon as the plants are well up in spring the land should be gone over thoroughly several times if necessary, with an iron tooth harrow, the teeth of which are set to slant backward in order not to tear up the plants. The loose earth mulch thus formed is very effective in conserving moisture; and the few plants torn up are more than paid for by the increased water supply for the remaining plants. The wise dry-fanner cultivates his land, whether fallow or cropped, as early as possible in the spring.

Following the first spring plowing, disking, or cultivation, must come more cultivation. Soon after the spring plowing, the land should be disked and. then harrowed. Every device should be used to secure the formation of a layer of loose drying soil over the land surface. The season’s crop will depend largely upon the effectiveness of this spring treatment.

As the season advances, three causes combine to permit the evaporation of soil-moisture.

First, there is a natural tendency, under the somewhat moist conditions of spring, for the soil to settle compactly and thus to restore the numerous capillary connections with the lower soil layers through which water escapes. Careful watch should therefore be kept upon the soil surface, and whenever the mulch is not loose, the disk or harrow should be run over the land.

Secondly, every rain of spring or summer tends to establish connections with the store of moisture in the soil. In fact, late spring and summer rains are often a disadvantage on dry-farms, which by cultural treatment have been made to contain a large store of moisture. It has been shown repeatedly that light rains draw moisture very quickly from soil layers many feet below the surface. The rainless summer is not feared by the dry-farmer whose soils are fertile and rich in moisture. It is imperative that at the very earliest moment after a spring or summer rain the topsoil be well stirred to prevent evaporation. It thus happens that in sections of frequent summer rains, as in the Great Plains area, the farmer has to harrow his land many times in succession, but the increased crop yields invariably justify the added expenditure of effort.

Thirdly, on the summer-fallowed ground weeds start vigorously in the spring and draw upon the soil-moisture, if allowed to grow, fully as heavily as a crop of wheat or corn. The dry-farmer must not allow a weed upon his land. Cultivation must he so continuous as to make weeds an impossibility. The belief that the elements added to the soil by weeds offset the loss of soil-moisture is wholly erroneous. The growth of weeds on a fallow dry-farm is more dangerous than the packed uncared-for topsoil. Many implements have been devised for the easy killing of weeds, but none appear to be better than the plow and the disk which are found on every farm. (See Chapter XV.)

When crops are growing on the land, thorough summer cultivation is somewhat more difficult, but must be practiced for the greatest certainty of crop yields. Potatoes, corn, and similar crops may be cultivated with comparative ease, by the use of ordinary cultivators. With wheat and the other small grains, generally, the damage done to the crop by harrowing late in the season is too great, and reliance is therefore placed on the shading power of the plants to prevent undue evaporation. However, until the wheat and other grains are ten to twelve inches high, it is perfectly safe to harrow them. The teeth should be set backward to diminish the tearing up of the plants, and the implement weighted enough to break the soil crust thoroughly. This practice has been fully tried out over the larger part of the dry-farm territory and found satisfactory.

So vitally important is a permanent soil mulch for the conservation for plant use of the water stored in the soil that many attempts have been made to devise means for the effective cultivation of land on which small grains and grasses are growing. In many places plants have been grown in rows so far apart that a man with a hoe could pass between them. Scofield has described this method as practiced successfully in Tunis. Campbell and others in America have proposed that a drill hole be closed every three feet to form a path wide enough for a horse to travel in and to pull a large spring tooth cultivator’ with teeth so spaced as to strike between the rows of wheat. It is yet doubtful whether, under average conditions, such careful cultivation, at least of grain crops, is justified by the returns. Under conditions of high aridity, or where the store of soil-moisture is low, such treatment frequently stands between crop success and failure, and it is not unlikely that methods will be devised which will permit of the cheap and rapid cultivation between the rows of growing wheat. Meanwhile, the dry-farmer must always remember that the margin under which he works is small, and that his success depends upon the degree to which he prevents small wastes.

Dry-farm potatoes, Rosebud Co., Montana, 1909. Yield, 282 bushels per acre.

The conservation of soil-moisture depends upon the vigorous, unremitting, continuous stirring of the topsoil. Cultivation! cultivation! and more cultivation! must be the war-cry of the dry-farmer who battles against the water thieves of an arid climate.


Water that has entered the soil may be lost in three ways. First, it may escape by downward seepage, whereby it passes beyond the reach of plant roots and often reaches the standing water. In dry-farm districts such loss is a rare occurrence, for the natural precipitation is not sufficiently large to connect with the country drainage, and it may, therefore, be eliminated from consideration. Second, soil-water may be lost by direct evaporation from the surface soil. The conditions prevailing in arid districts favor strongly this manner of loss of soil-moisture. It has been shown, however, in the preceding chapter that the farmer, by proper and persistent cultivation of the topsoil, has it in his power to reduce this loss enough to be almost negligible in the farmer’s consideration. Third, soil-water may be lost by evaporation from the plants themselves. While it is not generally understood, this source of loss is, in districts where dry-farming is properly carried on, very much larger than that resulting either from seepage or from direct evaporation. While plants are growing, evaporation from plants, ordinarily called transpiration, continues. Experiments performed in various arid districts have shown that one and a half to three times more water evaporates from the plant than directly from well-tilled soil. To the present very little has been learned concerning the most effective methods of checking or controlling this continual loss of water. Transpiration, or the evaporation of water from the plants themselves and the means of controlling this loss, are subjects of the deepest importance to the dry-farmer.


To understand the methods for reducing transpiration, as proposed in this chapter, it is necessary to review briefly the manner in which plants take water from the soil. The roots are the organs of water absorption. Practically no water is taken into the plants by the stems or leaves, even under conditions of heavy rainfall. Such small quantities as may enter the plant through the stems and leaves are of very little value in furthering the life and growth of the plant. The roots alone are of real consequence in water absorption. All parts of the roots do not possess equal power of taking up soil-water. In the process of water absorption the younger roots are most active and effective. Even of the young roots, however, only certain parts are actively engaged in water absorption. At the very tips of the young growing roots are numerous fine hairs. These root-hairs, which cluster about the growing point of the young roots, are the organs of the plant that absorb soil-water. They are of value only for limited periods of time, for as they grow older, they lose their power of water absorption. In fact, they are active only when they are in actual process of growth. It follows, therefore, that water absorption occurs near the tips of the growing roots, and whenever a plant ceases to grow the water absorption ceases also. The root-hairs are filled with a dilute solution of various substances, as yet poorly understood, which plays an important tent part in the ab sorption of water and plant-food from the soil.

Owing to their minuteness, the root-hairs are in most cases immersed in the water film that surrounds the soil particles, and the soil-water is taken directly into the roots from the soil-water film by the process known as osmosis. The explanation of this inward movement is complicated and need not be discussed here. It is sufficient to say that the concentration or strength of the solution within the root-hair is of different degree from the soil-water solution. The water tends, therefore, to move from the soil into the root, in order to make the solutions inside and outside of the root of the same concentration. If it should ever occur that the soil-water and the water within the root-hair became the same concentration, that is to say, contained the same substances in the same proportional amounts, there would be no further inward movement of water. Moreover, if it should happen that the soil-water is stronger than the water within the root-hair, the water would tend to pass from the plant into the soil. This is the condition that prevails in many alkali lands of the West, and is the cause of the death of plants growing on such lands.

It is clear that under these circumstances not only water enters the root-hairs, but many of the substances found in solution in the soil-water enter the plant also. Among these are the mineral substances which are indispensable for the proper life and growth of plants. These plant nutrients are so indispensable that if any one of them is absent, it is absolutely impossible for the plant to continue its life functions. The indispensable plant-foods gathered from the soil by the root-hairs, in addition to water, are: potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, nitrogen, and phosphorus,—all in their proper combinations. How the plant uses these substances is yet poorly understood, but we are fairly certain that each one has some particular function in the life of the plant. For instance, nitrogen and phosphorus are probably necessary in the formation of the protein or the flesh-forming portions of the plant, while potash is especially valuable in the formation of starch.

There is a constant movement of the indispensable plant nutrients after they have entered the root-hairs, through the stems and into the leaves. This constant movement of the plant-foods depends upon the fact that the plant consumes in its growth considerable quantities of these substances, and as the plant juices are diminished in their content of particular plant-foods, more enters from the soil solution. The necessary plant-foods do not alone enter the plant but whatever may be in solution in the soil-water enters the plant in variable quantities. Nevertheless, since the plant uses only a few definite substances and leaves the unnecessary ones in solution, there is soon a cessation of the inward movement of the unimportant constituents of the soil solution. This process is often spoken of as selective absorption; that is, the plant, because of its vital activity, appears to have the power of selecting from the soil certain substances and rejecting others.

Movement of water through plant

The soil-water, holding in solution a great variety of plant nutrients, passes from the root-hairs into the adjoining cells and gradually moves from cell to cell throughout the whole plant. In many plants this stream of water does not simply pass from cell to cell, but moves through tubes that apparently have been formed for the specific purpose of aiding the movement of water through the plant. The rapidity of this current is often considerable. Ordinarily, it varies from one foot to six feet per hour, though observations are on record showing that the movement often reaches the rate of eighteen feet per hour. It is evident, then, that in an actively growing plant it does not take long for the water which is in the soil to find its way to the uppermost parts of the plant.

The work of leaves

Whether water passes upward from cell to cell or through especially provided tubes, it reaches at last the leaves, where evaporation takes place. It is necessary to consider in greater detail what takes place in leaves in order that we may more clearly understand the loss due to transpiration. One half or more of every plant is made up of the element carbon. The remainder of the plant consists of the mineral substances taken from the soil (not more than two to 10 per cent of the dry plant) and water which has been combined with the carbon and these mineral substances to form the characteristic products of plant life. The carbon which forms over half of the plant substance is gathered from the air by the leaves and it is evident that the leaves are very active agents of plant growth. The atmosphere consists chiefly of the gases oxygen and nitrogen in the proportion of one to four, but associated with them are small quantities of various other substances. Chief among the secondary constituents of the atmosphere is the gas carbon dioxid, which is formed when carbon burns, that is, when carbon unites with the oxygen of the air. Whenever coal or wood or any carbonaceous substance burns, carbon dioxid is formed. Leaves have the power of absorbing the gas carbon dioxid from the air and separating the carbon from the oxygen. The oxygen is returned to the atmosphere while the carbon is retained to be used as the fundamental substance in the construction by the plant of oils, fats, starches, sugars, protein, and all the other products of plant growth.

This important process known as carbon assimilation is made possible by the aid of countless small openings which exist chicfly on the surfaces of leaves and known as “stomata.” The stomata are delicately balanced valves, exceedingly sensitive to external influences. They are more numerous on the lower side than on the upper side of plants. In fact, there is often five times more on the under side than on the upper side of a leaf. It has been estimated that 150,000 stomata or more are often found per square inch on the under side of the leaves of ordinary cultivated plants. The stomata or breathing-pores are so constructed that they may open and close very readily. In wilted leaves they are practically closed; often they also close immediately after a rain; but in strong sunlight they are usually wide open. It is through the stomata that the gases of the air enter the plant through which the discarded oxygen returns to the atmosphere.

It is also through the stomata that the water which is drawn from the soil by the roots through the stems is evaporated into the air. There is some evaporation of water from the stems and branches of plants, but it is seldom more than a thirtieth or a fortieth of the total transpiration. The evaporation of water from the leaves through the breathing-pores is the so-called transpiration, which is the greatest cause of the loss of soil-water under dry-farm conditions. It is to the prevention of this transpiration that much investigation must be given by future students of dry-farming.


As water evaporates through the breathing-pores from the leaves it necessarily follows that a demand is made upon the lower portions of the plant for more water. The effect of the loss of water is felt throughout the whole plant and is, undoubtedly, one of the chief causes of the absorption of water from the soil. As evaporation is diminished the amount of water that enters the plants is also diminished. Yet transpiration appears to be a process wholly necessary for plant life. The question is, simply, to what extent it may be diminished without injuring plant growth. Many students believe that the carbon assimilation of the plant, which is fundamentally important in plant growth, cannot be continued unless there is a steady stream of water passing through the plant and then evaporating from the leaves.

Of one thing we are fairly sure: if the upward stream of water is wholly stopped for even a few hours, the plant is likely to be so severely injured as to be greatly handicapped in its future growth.

Botanical authorities agree that transpiration is of value to plant growth, first, because it helps to distribute the mineral nutrients necessary for plant growth uniformly throughout the plant; secondly, because it permits an active assimilation of the carbon by the leaves; thirdly, because it is not unlikely that the heat required to evaporate water, in large part taken from the plant itself, prevents the plant from being overheated. This last mentioned value of transpiration is especially important in dry-farm districts, where, during the summer, the heat is often intense. Fourthly, transpiration apparently influences plant growth and development in a number of ways not yet clearly understood.

Conditions influencing transpiration

In general, the conditions that determine the evaporation of water from the leaves are the same as those that favor the direct evaporation of water from soils, although there seems to be something in the life process of the plant, a physiological factor, which permits or prevents the ordinary water-dissipating factors from exercising their full powers. That the evaporation of water from the soil or from a free water surface is not the same as that from plant leaves may be shown in a general way from the fact that the amount of water transpired from a given area of leaf surface may be very much larger or very much smaller than that evaporated from an equal surface of free water exposed to the same conditions. It is further shown by the fact that whereas evaporation from a free water surface goes on with little or no interruption throughout the twenty-four hours of the day, transpiration is virtually at a standstill at night even though the conditions for the rapid evaporation from a free water surface are present.

Some of the conditions influencing the transpiration may be enumerated as follows:—

First, transpiration is influenced by the relative humidity. In dry air, under otherwise similar conditions, plants transpire more water than in moist air though it is to be noted that even when the atmosphere is fully saturated, so that no water evaporates from a free water surface, the transpiration of plants still continues in a small degree. This is explained by the observation that since the life process of a plant produces a certain amount of heat, the plant is always warmer than the surrounding air and that transpiration into an atmosphere fully charged with water vapor is consequently made possible. The fact that transpiration is greater under a low relative humidity is of greatest importance to the dry-farmer who has to contend with the dry atmosphere.

Second, transpiration increases with the increase in temperature; that is, under conditions otherwise the same, transpiration is more rapid on a warm day than on a cold one. The temperature increase of itself, however, is not sufficient to cause transpiration.

Third, transpiration increases with the increase of air currents, which is to say, that on a windy day transpiration is much more rapid than on a quiet day.

Fourth, transpiration increases with the increase of direct sunlight. It is an interesting observation that even with the same relative humidity, temperature, and wind, transpiration is reduced to a minimum during the night and increases manyfold during the day when direct sunlight is available. This condition is again to be noted by the dry-farmer, for the dry-farm districts are characterized by an abundance of sunshine.

Fifth, transpiration is decreased by the presence in the soil-water of large quantities of the substances which the plant needs for its food material. This will be discussed more fully in the next section.

Sixth, any mechanical vibration of the plant seems to have some effect upon the transpiration. At times it is increased and at times it is decreased by such mechanical disturbance.

Seventh, transpiration varies also with the age of the plant. In the young plant it is comparatively small. Just before blooming it is very much larger and in time of bloom it is the largest in the history of the plant. As the plant grows older transpiration diminishes, and finally at the ripening stage it almost ceases.

Eighth, transpiration varies greatly with the crop. Not all plants take water from the soil at the same rate. Very little is as yet known about the relative water requirements of crops on the basis of transpiration. As an illustration, MacDougall has reported that sagebrush uses about one fourth as much water as a tomato plant. Even greater differences exist between other plants. This is one of the interesting subjects yet to be investigated by those who are engaged in the reclamation of dry-farm districts. Moreover, the same crop grown under different conditions varies in its rate of transpiration. For instance, plants grown for some time under arid conditions greatly modify their rate of transpiration, as shown by Spalding, who reports that a plant reared under humid conditions gave off 3.7 times as much water as the same plant reared under arid conditions. This very interesting observation tends to confirm the view commonly held that plants grown under arid conditions will gradually adapt themselves to the prevailing conditions, and in spite of the greater water dissipating conditions will live with the expenditure of less water than would be the case under humid conditions. Further, Sorauer found, many years ago, that different varieties of the same crop possess very different rates of transpiration. This also is an interesting subject that should be more fully investigated in the future.

Ninth, the vigor of growth of a crop appears to have a strong influence on transpiration. It does not follow, however, that the more vigorously a crop grows, the more rapidly does it transpire water, for it is well known that the most luxuriant plant growth occurs in the tropics, where the transpiration is exceedingly low. It seems to be true that under the same conditions, plants that grow most vigorously tend to use proportionately the smallest amount of water.

Tenth, the root system—its depth and manner of growth—influences the rate of transpiration. The more vigorous and extensive the root system, the more rapidly can water be secured from the soil by the plant.

The conditions above enumerated as influencing transpiration are nearly all of a physical character, and it must not be forgotten that they may all be annulled or changed by a physiological regulation. It must be admitted that the subject of transpiration is yet poorly understood, though it is one of the most important subjects in its applications to plant production in localities where water is scaree. It should also be noted that nearly all of the above conditions influencing transpiration are beyond the control of the farmer. The one that seems most readily controlled in ordinary agricultural practice will be discussed in the following section.

Plant-food and transpiration

It has been observed repeatedly by students of transpiration that the amount of water which actually evaporates from the leaves is varied materially by the substances held in solution by the soil-water. That is, transpiration depends upon the nature and concentration of soil solution. This fact, though not commonly applied even at the present time, has really been known for a very long time. Woodward, in 1699, observed that the amount of water transpired by a plant growing in rain water was 192.3 grams; in spring water, 163.6 grams, and in water from the River Thames, 159.5 grams; that is, the amount of water transpired by the plant in the comparatively pure rain water was nearly 20 per cent higher than that used by the plant growing in the notoriously impure water of the River Thames. Sachs, in 1859, carried on an elaborate series of experiments on transpiration in which he showed that the addition of potassium nitrate, ammonium sulphate or common salt to the solution in which plants grew reduced the transpiration; in fact, the reduction was large, varying from 10 to 75 per cent. This was confirmed by a number of later workers, among them, for instance, Buergerstein, who, in 1875, showed that whenever acids were added to a soil or to water in which plants are growing, the transpiration is increased greatly; but when alkalies of any kind are added, transpiration decreases. This is of special interest in the development of dry-farming, since dry-farm soils, as a rule, contain more substances that may be classed as alkalies than do soils maintained under humid conditions. Sour soils are very characteristic of districts where the rainfall is abundant; the vegetation growing on such soils transpires excessively and the crops are consequently more subject to drouth.

The investigators of almost a generation ago also determined beyond question that whenever a complete nutrient solution is presented to plants, that is, a solution containing all the necessary plant-foods in the proper proportions, the transpiration is reduced immensely. It is not necessary that the plant-foods should be presented in a water solution in order to effect this reduction in transpiration; if they are added to the soil on which plants are growing, the same effect will result. The addition of commercial fertilizers to the soil will therefore diminish transpiration. It was further discovered nearly half a century ago that similar plants growing on different soils evaporate different amounts of water from their leaves; this difference, undoubtedly, is due to the conditions in the fertility of the soils, for the more fertile a soil is, the richer will the soil-water be in the necessary plant-foods. The principle that transpiration or the evaporation of water from the plants depends on the nature and concentration of the soil solution is of far-reaching importance in the development of a rational practice of dry-farming.

Transpiration for a pound of dry matter

Is plant growth proportional to transpiration? Do plants that evaporate much water grow more rapidly than those that evaporate less? These questions arose very early in the period characterized by an active study of transpiration. If varying the transpiration varies the growth, there would be no special advantage in reducing the transpiration. From an economic point of view the important question is this: Does the plant when its rate of transpiration is reduced still grow with the same vigor? If that be the case, then every effort should be made by the farmer to control and to diminish the rate of transpiration.

One of the very earliest experiments on transpiration, conducted by Woodward in 1699, showed that it required less water to produce a pound of dry matter if the soil solution were of the proper concentration and contained the elements necessary for plant growth. Little more was done to answer the above questions for over one hundred and fifty years. Perhaps the question was not even asked during this period, for scientific agriculture was just coming into being in countries where the rainfall was abundant. However, Tschaplowitz, in 1878, investigated the subject and found that the increase in dry matter is greatest when the transpiration is the smallest. Sorauer, in researches conducted from 1880 to 1882, determined with almost absolute certainty that less water is required to produce a pound of dry matter when the soil is fertilized than when it is not fertilized. Moreover, he observed that the enriching of the soil solution by the addition of artificial fertilizers enabled the plant to produce dry matter with less water. He further found that if a soil is properly tilled so as to set free plant-food and in that way to enrich the soil solution the water-cost of dry plant substance is decreased. Hellriegel, in 1883, confirmed this law and laid down the law that poor plant nutrition increases the water-cost of every pound of dry matter produced. It was about this time that the Rothamsted Experiment Station reported that its experiments had shown that during periods of drouth the well-tilled and well-fertilized fields yielded good crops, while the unfertilized fields yielded poor crops or crop failures—indicating thereby, since rainfall was the critical factor, that the fertility of the soil is important in determining whether or not with a small amount of water a good crop can be produced. Pagnoul, working in 1895 with fescue grass, arrived at the same conclusion. On a poor clay soil it required 1109 pounds of water to produce one pound of dry matter, while on a rich calcareous soil only 574 pounds were required. Gardner of the United States Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Soils, working in 1908, on the manuring of soils, came to the conclusion that the more fertile the soil the less water is required to produce a pound of dry matter. He incidentally called attention to the fact that in countries of limited rainfall this might be a very important principle to apply in crop production. Hopkins in his study of the soils of Illinois has repeatedly observed, in connection with certain soils, that where the land is kept fertile, injury from drouth is not common, implying thereby that fertile soils will produce dry matter at a lower water-cost. The most recent experiments on this subject, conducted by the Utah Station, confirm these conclusions. The experiments, which covered several years, were conducted in pots filled with different soils. On a soil, naturally fertile, 908 pounds of water were transpired for each pound of dry matter (corn) produced; by adding to this soil an ordinary dressing of manure’ this was reduced to 613 pounds, and by adding a small amount of sodium nitrate it was reduced to 585 pounds. If so large a reduction could be secured in practice, it would seem to justify the use of commercial fertilizers in years when the dry-farm year opens with little water stored in the soil. Similar results, as will be shown below, were obtained by the use of various cultural methods. It may therefore, be stated as a law, that any cultural treatment which enables the soil-water to acquire larger quantities of plant-food also enables the plant to produce dry matter with the use of a smaller amount of water. In dry-farming, where the limiting factor is water, this principle must he emphasized in every cultural operation.

Methods of controlling transpiration

It would appear that at present the only means possessed by the farmer for controlling transpiration and making possible maximum crops with the minimum amount of water in a properly tilled soil is to keep the soil as fertile as is possible. In the light of this principle the practices already recommended for the storing of water and for the prevention of the direct evaporation of water from the soil are again emphasized. Deep and frequent plowing, preferably in the fall so that the weathering of the winter may be felt deeply and strongly, is of first importance in liberating plant-food. Cultivation which has been recommended for the prevention of the direct evaporation of water is of itself an effective factor in setting free plant-food and thus in reducing the amount of water required by plants. The experiments at the Utah Station, already referred to, bring out very strikingly the value of cultivation in reducing the transpiration. For instance, in a series of experiments the following results were obtained. On a sandy loam, not cultivated, 603 pounds of water were transpired to produce one pound of dry matter of corn; on the same soil, cultivated, only 252 pounds were required. On a clay loam, not cultivated, 535 pounds of water were transpired for each pound of dry matter, whereas on the cultivated soil only 428 pounds were necessary. On a clay soil, not cultivated, 753 pounds of water were transpired for each pound of dry matter; on the cultivated soil, only 582 pounds. The farmer who faithfully cultivates the soil throughout the summer and after every rain has therefore the satisfaction of knowing that he is accomplishing two very important things: he is keeping the moisture in the soil, and he is making it possible for good crops to be grown with much less water than would otherwise be required. Even in the case of a peculiar soil on which ordinary cultivation did not reduce the direct evaporation, the effect upon the transpiration was very marked. On the soil which was not cultivated, 451 pounds of water were required to produce one pound of dry matter (corn), while on the cultivated soils, though the direct evaporation was no smaller, the number of pounds of water for each pound of dry substance was as low as 265.

One of the chief values of fallowing lies in the liberation of the plant-food during the fallow year, which reduces the quantity of water required the next year for the full growth of crops. The Utah experiments to which reference has already been made show the effect of the previous soil treatment upon the water requirements of crops. One half of the three types of soil had been cropped for three successive years, while the other half had been left bare. During the fourth year both halves were planted to corn. For the sandy loam it was found that, on the part that had been cropped previously, 659 pounds of water were required for each pound of dry matter produced, while on the part that had been bare only 573 pounds were required. For the clay loam 889 pounds on the cropped part and 550 on the previously bare part were required for each pound of dry matter. For the clay 7466 pounds on the cropped part and 1739 pounds on the previously bare part were required for each pound of dry matter. These results teach clearly and emphatically that the fertile condition of the soil induced by fallowing makes it possible to produce dry matter with a smaller amount of water than can be done on soils that are cropped continuously. The beneficial effects of fallowing are therefore clearly twofold: to store the moisture of two seasons for the use of one crop; and to set free fertility to enable the plant to grow with the least amount of water. It is not yet fully understood what changes occur in fallowing to give the soil the fertility which reduces the water needs of the plant. The researches of Atkinson in Montana, Stewart and Graves in Utah, and Jensen in South Dakota make it seem probable that the formation of nitrates plays an important part in the whole process. If a soil is of such a nature that neither careful, deep plowing at the right time nor constant crust cultivation are sufficient to set free an abundance of plant-food, it may be necessary to apply manures or commercial fertilizers to the soil. While the question of restoring soil fertility has not yet come to be a leading one in dry-farming, yet in view of what has been said in this chapter it is not impossible that the time will come when the farmers must give primary attention to soil fertility in addition to the storing and conservation of soil-moisture. The fertilizing of lands with proper plant-foods, as shown in the last sections, tends to check transpiration and makes possible the production of dry matter at the lowest water-cost.

The recent practice in practically all dry-farm districts, at least in the intermountain and far West, to use the header for harvesting bears directly upon the subject considered in this chapter. The high stubble which remains contains much valuable plant-food, often gathered many feet below the surface by the plant roots. When this stubble is plowed under there is a valuable addition of the plant-food to the upper soil. Further, as the stubble decays, acid substances are produced that act upon the soil grains to set free the plant-food locked up in them. The plowing under of stubble is therefore of great value to the dry-farmer. The plowing under of any other organic substance has the same effect. In both cases fertility is concentrated near the surface, which dissolves in the soil-water and enables the crop to mature with the Ieast quantity of water.

The lesson then to be learned from this chapter is, that it is not aufficient for the dry-farmer to store an abundance of water in the soil and to prevent that water from evaporating directly from the soil; but the soil must be kept in such a state of high fertility that plants are enabled to utilize the stored moisture in the most economical manner. Water storage, the prevention of evaporation, and the maintenance of soil fertility go hand in hand in the development of a successful system of farming without irrigation.


The soil treatment prescribed in the preceding chapters rests upon (1) deep and thorough plowing, done preferably in the fall; (2) thorough cultivation to form a mulch over the surface of the land, and (3) clean summer fallowing every other year under low rainfall or every third or fourth year under abundant rainfall.

Students of dry-farming all agree that thorough cultivation of the topsoil prevents the evaporation of soil-moisture, but some have questioned the value of deep and fall plowing and the occasional clean summer fallow. It is the purpose of this chapter to state the findings of practical men with reference to the value of plowing and fallowing in producing large crop yields under dry-farm conditions.

It will be shown in Chapter XVIII that the first attempts to produce crops without irrigation under a limited rainfall were made independently in many diverse places. California, Utah, and the Columbia Basin, as far as can now be learned, as well as the Great Plains area, were all independent pioneers in the art of dry-farming. It is a most significant fact that these diverse localities, operating under different conditions as to soil and climate, have developed practically the same system of dry-farming. In all these places the best dry-farmers practice deep plowing wherever the subsoil will permit it; fall plowing wherever the climate will permit it; the sowing of fall grain wherever the winters will permit it, and the clean summer fallow every other year, or every third or fourth year. H. W. Campbell, who has been the leading exponent of dry-farming in the Great Plains area, began his work without the clean summer fallow as a part of his system, but has long since adopted it for that section of the country. It is scarcely to be believed that these practices, developed laboriously through a long succession of years in widely separated localities, do not rest upon correct scientific principles. In any case, the accumulated experience of the dry-farmers in this country confirms the doctrines of soil tillage for dry-farms laid down in the preceding chapters.

At the Dry-Farming Congresses large numbers of practical farmers assemble for the purpose of exchanging experiences and views. The reports of the Congress show a great difference of opinion on minor matters and a wonderful unanimity of opinion on the more fundamental questions. For instance, deep plowing was recommended by all who touched upon the subject in their remarks; though one farmer, who lived in a locality the subsoil of which was very inert, recommended that the depth of plowing should be increased gradually until the full depth is reached, to avoid a succession of poor crop years while the lifeless soil was being vivified. The states of Utah, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan of Canada all specifically declared through one to eight representatives from each state in favor of deep plowing as a fundamental practice in dry-farming. Fall plowing, wherever the climatic conditions make it possible, was similarly advocated by all the speakers. Farmers in certain localities had found the soil so dry in the fall that plowing was difficult, but Campbell insisted that even in such places it would be profitable to use power enough to break up the land before the winter season set in. Numerous speakers from the states of Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, and a number of the Great Plains states, as well as from the Chinese Empire, declared themselves as favoring fall plowing. Scareely a dissenting voice was raised.

In the discussion of the clean summer fallow as a vital principle of dry-farming a slight difference of opinion was discovered. Farmers from some of the localities insisted that the clean summer fallow every other year was indispensable; others that one in three years was sufficient; and others one in four years, and a few doubtful the wisdom of it altogether. However, all the speakers agreed that clean and thorough cultivation should be practiced faithfully during the spring, and fall of the fallow year. The appreciation of the fact that weeds consume precious moisture and fertility seemed to be general among the dry-farmers from all sections of the country. The following states, provinces, and countries declared themselves as being definitely and emphatically in favor of clean summer fallowing:

California, Utah, Nevada, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, Nebraska, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Russia, Turkey, the Transvaal, Brazil, and Australia. Each of these many districts was represented by one to ten or more representatives. The only state to declare somewhat vigorously against it was from the Great Plains area, and a warning voice was heard from the United States Department of Agriculture. The recorded practical experience of the farmers over the whole of the dry-farm territory of the United States leads to the conviction that fallowing must he accepted as a practice which resulted in successful dry-farming. Further, the experimental leaders in the dry-farm movement, whether working under private, state, or governmental direction, are, with very few exceptions, strongly in favor of deep fall plowing and clean summer fallowing as parts of the dry-farm system.

The chief reluctance to accept clean summer fallowing as a principle of dry-farming appears chicfly among students of the Great Plains area. Even there it is admitted by all that a wheat crop following a fallow year is larger and better than one following wheat. There seem, however, to be two serious reasons for objecting to it. First, a fear that a clean summer fallow, practiced every second, third, or fourth year, will cause a large diminution of the organic matter in the soil, resulting finally in complete crop failure; and second, a belief that a hoed crop, like corn or potatoes, exerts the same beneficial effect.

It is undoubtedly true that the thorough tillage involved in dry-farming exposes to the action of the elements the organic matter of the soil and thereby favors rapid oxidation. For that reason the different ways in which organic matter may be supplied regularly to dry-farms are pointed out in Chapter XIV. It may also be observed that the header harvesting system employed over a large part of the dry-farm territory leaves the large header stubble to be plowed under, and it is probable that under such methods more organic matter is added to the soil during the year of cropping than is lost during the year of fallowing. It may, moreover, be observed that thorough tillage of a crop like corn or potatoes tends to cause a loss of the organic matter of the soil to a degree nearly as large as is the case when a fallow field is well cultivated. The thorough stirring of the soil under an arid or semiarid climate, which is an essential feature of dry-farming, will always result in a decrease in organic matter. It matters little whether the soil is fallow or in crop during the process of cultivation, so far as the result is concerned.

A serious matter connected with fallowing in the Great Plains area is the blowing of the loose well-tilled soil of the fallow fields, which results from the heavy winds that blow so steadily over a large part of the western slope of the Mississippi Valley. This is largely avoided when crops are grown on the land, even when it is well tilled.

The theory, recently proposed, that in the Great Plains area, where the rains come chicfly in summer, the growing of hoed crops may take the place of the summer fallow, is said to be based on experimental data not yet published. Careful and conscientious experimenters, as Chilcott and his co-laborers, indicate in their statements that in many cases the yields of wheat, after a hoed crop, have been larger than after a fallow year. The doctrine has, therefore, been rather widely disseminated that fallowing has no place in the dry-farming of the Great Plains area and should be replaced by the growing of hoed crops. Chilcott, who is the chief exponent of this doctrine, declares, however, that it is only with spring-grown crops and for a succession of normal years that fallowing may be omitted, and that fallowing must be resorted to as a safeguard or temporary expedient to guard against total loss of crop where extreme drouth is anticipated; that is, where the rainfall falls below the average. He further explains that continuous grain cropping, even with careful plowing and spring and fall tillage, is unsuccessful; but holds that certain rotations of crops, including grain and a hoed crop every other year, are often more profitable than grain alternating with clean summer fallow. He further believes that the fallow year every third or fourth year is sufficient for Great Plains conditions. Jardine explains that whenever fall grain is grown in the Great Plains area, the fallow is remarkably helpful, and in fact because of the dry winters is practically indispensable.

This latter view is confirmed by the experimental results obtained by Atkinson and others at the Montana Experiment Stations, which are conducted under approximately Great Plains conditions.

It should be mentioned also that in Saskatchewan, in the north end of the Great Plains area, and which is characteristic, except for a lower annual temperature, of the whole area, and where dry-farming has been practiced for a quarter of a century, the clean summer fallow has come to be an established practice.

This recent discussion of the place of fallowing in the agriculture of the Great Plains area illustrates what has been said so often in this volume about the adapting of principles to local conditions. Wherever the summer rainfall is sufficient to mature a crop, fallowing for the purpose of storing moisture in the soil is unnecessary; the only value of the fallow year under such conditions would be to set free fertility. In the Great Plains area the rainfall is somewhat higher than elsewhere in the dry-farm territory and most of it comes in summer; and the summer precipitation is probably enough in average years to mature crops, providing soil conditions are favorable. The main considerations, then, are to keep the soils open for the reception of water and to maintain the soils in a sufficiently fertile condition to produce, as explained in Chapter IX, plants with a minimum amount of water. This is accomplished very largely by the year of hoed crop, when the soil is as well stirred as under a clean fallow.

The dry-farmer must never forget that the critical element in dry-farming is water and that the annual rainfall will in the very nature of things vary from year to year, with the result that the dry year, or the year with a precipitation below the average, is sure to come. In somewhat wet years the moisture stored in the soil is of comparatively little consequence, but in a year of drouth it will be the main dependence of the farmer. Now, whether a crop be hoed or not, it requires water for its growth, and land which is continuously cropped even with a variety of crops is likely to be so largely depleted of its moisture that, when the year of drouth comes, failure will probably result.

The precariousness of dry-farming must be done away with. The year of drouth must be expected every year. Only as certainty of crop yield is assured will dry-farming rise to a respected place by the side of other branches of agriculture. To attain such certainty and respect clean summer fallowing every second, third, or fourth year, according to the average rainfall, is probably indispensable; and future investigations, long enough continued, will doubtless confirm this prediction. Undoubtedly, a rotation of crops, including hoed crops, will find an important place in dry-farming, but probably not to the complete exclusion of the clean summer fallow.

Jethro Tull, two hundred years ago, discovered that thorough tillage of the soil gave crops that in some cases could not be produced by the addition of manure, and he came to the erroneous conclusion that “tillage is manure.” In recent days we have learned the value of tillage in conserving moisture and in enabling plants to reach maturity with the least amount of water, and we may be tempted to believe that “tillage is moisture.” This, like Tull’s statement, is a fallacy and must be avoided. Tillage can take the place of moisture only to a limited degree. Water is the essential consideration in dry-farming, else there would be no dry-farming.


The careful application of the principles of soil treatment discussed in the preceding chapters will leave the soil in good condition for sowing, either in the fall or spring. Nevertheless, though proper dry-farming insures a first-class seed-bed, the problem of sowing is one of the most difficult in the successful production of crops without irrigation. This is chiefly due to the difficulty of choosing, under somewhat rainless conditions, a time for sowing that will insure rapid and complete germination and the establishmcnt of a root system capable of producing good plants. In some respects fewer definite, reliable principles can be laid down concerning sowing than any other principle of important application in the practice of dry-farming. The experience of the last fifteen years has taught that the occasional failures to which even good dry-farmers have been subjected have been caused almost wholly by uncontrollable unfavorable conditions prevailing at the time of sowing.

Conditions of germination

Three conditions determine germination: (1) heat, (2) oxygen, and (3) water. Unless these three conditions are all favorable, seeds cannot germinate properly. The first requisite for successful seed germination is a proper degree of heat. For every kind of seed there is a temperature below which germination does not occur; another, above which it does not occur, and another, the best, at which, providing the other factors are favorable, germination will go on most rapidly. The following table, constructed by Goodale, shows the latest, highest, and best germination temperatures for wheat, barley, and corn. Other seeds germinate approximately within the same ranges of temperature:—

Germination Temperatures (Degrees Farenheit)

       Lowest Highest Best
Wheat 41 108 84
Barley 41 100 84
Corn 49 115 91

Germination occurs within the considerable range between the highest and lowest temperatures of this table, though the rapidity of germination decreases as the temperature recedes from the best. This explains the early spring and late fall germination when the temperature is comparatively low. If the temperature falls below the lowest required for germination, dry seeds are not injured, and even a temperature far below the freezing point of water will not affect seeds unfavorably if they are not too moist. The warmth of the soil, essential to germination, cannot well be controlled by the farmer; and planting must, therefore, be done in seasons when, from past experience, it is probable that the temperature is and will remain in the neighborhood of the best degree for germination. More heat is required to raise the temperature of wet soils; therefore, seeds will generally germinate more slowly in wet than in dry soils, as is illustrated in the rapid germination often observed in well-tilled dry-farm soils. Consequently, it is safer at a low temperature to sow in dry soils than in wet ones. Dark soils absorb heat more rapidly than lighter colored ones, and under the same conditions of temperature germination is therefore more likely to go on rapidly in dark colored soils. Over the dry-farm territory the soils are generally light colored, which would tend to delay germination. The incorporation of organic matter with the soil, which tends to darken the soil, has a slight though important bearing on germination as well as on the general fertility of the soil, and should be made an important dry-farm practice. Meanwhile, the temperature of the soil depends almost wholly upon the prevailing temperature conditions in the district and is not to any material degree under the control of the farmer.

A sufficient supply of oxygen in the soil is indispensable to germination. Oxygen, as is well known, forms about one fifth of the atmosphere and is the active principle in combustion and in tile changes in the animal body occasioned by respiration. Oxygen should be present in the soil air in approximately the proportion in which it is found in the atmosphere. Germination is hindered by a larger or smaller proportion than is found in the atmosphere. The soil must be in such a condition that the air can easily enter or leave the upper soil layer; that is, the soil must be somewhat loose. In order that the seeds may have access to the necessary oxygen, then, sowing should not be done in wet or packed soils, nor should the sowing implements be such as to press the soil too closely around the seeds. Well-fallowed soil is in an ideal condition for admitting oxygen.

If the temperature is right, germination begins by the forcible absorption of water by the seed from the surrounding soil. The force of this absorption is very great, ranging from four hundred to five hundred pounds per square inch, and continues until the seed is completely saturated. The great vigor with which water is thus absorbed from the soil explains how seeds are able to secure the necessary water from the thin water film surrounding the soil grains. The following table, based upon numerous investigations conducted in Germany and in Utah, shows the maximum percentages of water contained by seeds when the absorption is complete. These quantities are reached only when water is easily accessible:—

Percentage of Water contained by Seeds at Saturation

       German Utah
Rye 58 —
Wheat 57 52
Oats 58 43
Barley 56 44
Corn 44 57
Beans 95 88
Lucern 78 67

Germination itself does not go on freely until this maximum saturation has been reached. Therefore, if the moisture in the soil is low, the absorption of water is made difficult and germination is retarded. This shows itself in a decreased percentage of germination. The effect upon germination of the percentage of water in the soil is well shown by some of the Utah experiments, as follows:—

Effect of Varying Amounts of Water on Percentage of Germination

Percent water in soil 7.5 10 12.5 15 17.5 20 22.5 25
Wheat in sandy loam 0.0 98 94 86 82 82 82 6
Wheat in clay 30 48 84 94 84 82 86 58
Beans in sandy loam 0 0 20 46 66 18 8 9
Beans in clay 0 0 6 20 22 32 30 36
Lucern in Sandy loam 0 18 68 54 54 8 8 9
Lucern in clay 8 8 54 48 50 32 15 14

In a sandy soil a small percentage of water will cause better germination than in a clay soil. While different seeds vary in their power to abstract water from soils, yet it seems that for the majority of plants, the best percentage of soil-water for germination purposes is that which is in the neighborhood of the maximum field capacity of soils for water, as explained in Chapter VII. Bogdanoff has estimated that the best amount of water in the soil for germination purposes is about twice the maximum percentage of hygroscopic water. This would not be far from the field-water capacity as described in the preceding chapter.

During the absorption of water, seeds swell considerably, in many cases from two to three times their normal size. This has the very desirable effect of crowding the seed walls against the soil particles and thus, by establishing more points of contact, enabling the seed to absorb moisture with greater facility. As seeds begin to absorb water, heat is also produced. In many cases the temperature surrounding the seeds is increased one degree on the Centigrade scale by the mere process of water absorption. This favors rapid germination. Moreover, the fertility of the soil has a direct influence upon germination. In fertile soils the germination is more rapid and more complete than in infertile soils. Especially active in favoring direct germination are the nitrates. When it is recalled that the constant cultivation and well-kept summer fallow of dry-farming develop large quantities of nitrates in the soil, it will be understood that the methods of dry-farming as already outlined accelerate germination very greatly.

It scareely need be said that the soil of the seed-bed should be fine, mellow, and uniform in physical texture so that the seeds can be planted evenly and in close contact with the soil particles. All the requisite conditions for germination are best met by the conditions prevailing in a well-kept summer fallowed soil.

Time to sow

In the consideration of the time to sow, the first question to be disposed of by the dry-farmer is that of fall as against spring sowing. The small grains occur as fall and spring varieties, and it is vitally important to determine which season, under dry-farm conditions, is the best for sowing.

The advantages of fall sowing are many. As stated, successful germination is favored by the presence of an abundance of fertility, especially of nitrates, in the soil. In summer-fallowed land nitrates are always found in abundance in the fall, ready to stimulate the seed into rapid germination and the young plants into vigorous growth. During the late fall and winter months the nitrates disappear, at least in part, anti from the point of view of fertility the spring is not so desirable as the fall for germination. More important, grain sown in the fall under favorable conditions will establish a good root system which is ready for use and in action in the early spring as soon as the temperature is right and long before the farmer can go out on the ground with his implements. As a result, the crop has the use of the early spring moisture, which under the conditions of spring sowing is evaporated into the air. Where the natural precipitation is light and the amount of water stored in the soil is not large, the gain resulting from the use of the early spring moisture. often decides the question in favor of fall sowing.

The disadvantages of fall sowing are also many. The uncertainty of the fall rains must first be considered. In ordinary practice, seed sown in the fall does not germinate until a rain comes, unless indeed sowing is done immediately after a rain. The fall rains are uncertain as to quantity. In many cases they are so light that they suffice only to start germination and not to complete it and give the plants the proper start. Such incomplete germination frequently causes the total loss of the crop. Even if the stand of the fall crop is satisfactory, there is always the danger of winter-killing to be reckoned with. The real cause of winter-killing is not yet clearly understood, though it seems that repeated thawing and freezing, drying winter winds, accompanied by dry cold or protracted periods of intense cold, destroy the vitality of the seed and young root system. Continuous but moderate cold is not ordinarily very injurious. The liability to winter-killing is, therefore, very much greater wherever the winters are open than in places where the snow covers the ground the larger part of the winter. It is also to be kept in mind that some varieties are very resistant to winter-killing, while others require well-covered winters. Fall sowing is preferable wherever the bulk of the precipitation comes in winter and spring and where the winters are covered for some time with snow and the summers are dry. Under such conditions it is very important that the crop make use of the moisture stored in the soil in the early spring. Wherever the precipitation comes largely in late spring and summer, the arguments in favor of fall sowing are not so strong, and in such localities spring sowing is often more desirable than fall sowing. In the Great Plains district, therefore, spring sowing is usually recommended, though fall-sown crops nearly always, even there, yield the larger crops. In the intermountain states, with wet winters and dry summers, fall sowing has almost wholly replaced spring sowing. In fact, Farrell reports that upon the Nephi (Utah) substation the average of six years shows about twenty bushels of wheat from fall-sown seed as against about thirteen bushels from spring-sown seed. Under the California climate, with wet winters and a winter temperature high enough for plant growth, fall sowing is also a general practice. Wherever the conditions are favorable, fall sowing should be practiced, for it is in harmony with the best principles of water conservation. Even in districts where the precipitation comes chiefly in the summer, it may be found that fall sowing, after all, is preferable.

The right time to sow in the fall can be fixed only with great difficulty, for so much depends upon the climatic conditions. In fact the practice varies in accordance with differences in fall precipitation and early fall frosts. Where numerous fall rains maintain the soil in a fairly moist condition and the temperature is not too low, the problem is comparatively simple. In such districts, for latitudes represented by the dry-farm sections of the United States, a good time for fall planting is ordinarily from the first of September to the middle of October. If sown much earlier in such districts, the growth is likely to be too rank and subject to dangerous injury by frosts, and as suggested by Farrell the very large development of the root system in the fall may cause, the following summer, a dangerously large growth of foliage; that is, the crop may run to straw at the expense of the grain. If sown much later, the chances are that the crop will not possess sufficient vitality to withstand the cold of late fall and winter. In localities where the late summer and the early fall are rainless, it is much more difficult to lay down a definite rule covering the time of fall sowing. The dry-farmers in such places usually sow at any convenient time in the hope that an early rain will start the process of germination and growth. In other cases planting is delayed until the arrival of the first fall rain. This is an certain and usually unsatisfactory practice, since it often happens that the sowing is delayed until too late in the fall for the best results.

In districts of dry late summer and fall, the greatest danger in depending upon the fall rains for germination lies in the fact that the precipitation is often so small that it initiates germination without being sufficient to complete it. This means that when the seed is well started in germination, the moisture gives out. When another slight rain comes a little later, germination is again started and possibly again stopped. In some seasons this may occur several times, to the permanent injury of the crop. Dry-farmers try to provide against this danger by using an unusually large amount of seed, assuming that a certain amount will fail to come up because of the repeated partial germinations. A number of investigators have demonstrated that a seed may start to germinate, then be dried, and again be started to germinate several times in succession without wholly destroying the vitality of the seed.

In these experiments wheat and other seeds were allowed to germinate and dry seven times in succession. With each partial germination the percentage of total germination decreased until at the seventh germination only a few seeds of wheat, barley, and oats retained their power. This, however, is practically the condition in dry-farm districts with rainless summers and falls, where fall seeding is practiced. In such localities little dependence should be placed on the fall rains and greater reliance placed on a method of soil treatment that will insure good germination. For this purpose the summer fallow has been demonstrated to be the most desirable practice. If the soil has been treated according to the principles laid down in earlier chapters, the fallowed land will, in the fall, contain a sufficient amount of moisture to produce complete germination though no rains may fall. Under such conditions the main consideration is to plant the seed so deep that it may draw freely upon the stored soil-moisture. This method makes fall germination sure in districts where the natural precipitation is not to be depended upon.

When sowing is done in the spring, there are few factors to consider. Whenever the temperature is right and the soil has dried out sufficiently so that agricultural implements may be used properly, it is usually safe to begin sowing. The customs which prevail generally with regard to the time of spring sowing may be adopted in dry-farm practices also.

Depth of seeding

The depth to which seed should be planted in the soil is of importance in a system of dry-farming. The reserve materials in seeds are used to produce the first roots and the young plants. No new nutriment beyond that stored in the soil can be obtained by the plant until the leaves are above the ground able to gather Carleton from the atmosphere. The danger of deep planting lies, therefore, in exhausting the reserve materials of the seeds before the plant has been able to push its leaves above the ground. Should this occur, the plant will probably die in the soil. On the other hand, if the seed is not planted deeply enough, it may happen that the roots cannot be sent down far enough to connect with the soil-water reservoir below. Then, the root system will not be strong and deep, but will have to depend for its development upon the surface water, which is always a dangerous practice in dry-farming. The rule as to the depth of seeding is simply: Plant as deeply as is safe. The depth to which seeds may be safely placed depends upon the nature of the soil, its fertility, its physical condition, and the water that it contains. In sandy soils, planting may be deeper than in clay soils, for it requires less energy for a plant to push roots, stems, and leaves through the loose sandy soil than through the more compact clay soil; in a dry soil planting may be deeper than in wet soils; likewise, deep planting is safer in a loose soil than in one firmly compacted; finally, where the moist soil is considerable distance below the surface, deeper planting may be practiced than when the moist soil is near the surface. Countless experiments have been conducted on the subject of depth of seeding. In a few cases, ordinary agricultural seeds planted eight inches deep have come up and produced satisfactory plants. However, the consensus of opinion is that from one to three inches are best in humid districts, but that, everything considered, four inches is the best depth under dry-farm conditions. Under a low natural precipitation, where the methods of dry-farming are practiced, it is always safe to plant deeply, for such a practice will develop and strengthen the root system, which is one big step toward successful dry-farming.

Quantity to sow

Numerous dry-farm failures may be charged wholly to ignorance concerning the quantity of seed to sow. In no other practice has the custom of humid countries been followed more religiously by dry-farmers, and failure has nearly always resulted. The discussions in this volume have brought out the fact that every plant of whatever character requires a large amount of water for its growth. From the first day of its growth to the day of its maturity, large amounts of water are taken from the soil through the plant and evaporated into the air through the leaves. When the large quantities of seed employed in humid countries have been sown on dry lands, the result has usually been an excellent stand early in the season, with a crop splendid in appearance up to early summer. .A luxuriant spring crop reduces, however, the water content of the soil so greatly that when the heat of the summer arrives, there is not sufficient water left in the soil to support the final development and ripening. A thick stand in early spring is no assurance to the dry-farmer of a good harvest. On the contrary, it is usually the field with a thin stand in spring that stands up best through the summer and yields most at the time of harvest. The quantity of seed sown should vary with the soil conditions: the more fertile the soil is, the more seed may be used; the more water in the soil, the more seed may be sown; as the fertility or the water content diminishes, the amount of seed should likewise be diminished. Under dry-farm conditions the fertility is good, but the moisture is low. As a general principle, therefore, light seeding should be practiced on dry-farms, though it should be sufficient to yield a crop that will shade the ground well. If the sowing is done early, in fall or spring, less seed may be used than if the sowing is late, because the early sowing gives a better chance for root development, which results, ordinarily, in more vigorous plants that consume more moisture than the smaller and weaker plants of later sowing. If the winters are mild and well covered with snow, less seed may be used than in districts where severe or open winters cause a certain amount of winter-killing. On a good seed-bed of fallowed soil less seed may be used than where the soil has not been carefully tilled and is somewhat rough and lumpy and unfavorable for complete germination. The yield of any crop is not directly proportional to the amount sown, unless all factors contributing to germination are alike. In the case of wheat and other grains, thin seeding also gives a plant a better chance for stooling, which is Nature’s method of adapting the plant to the prevailing moisture and fertility conditions. When plants are crowded, stooling cannot occur to any marked degree, and the crop is rendered helpless in attempts to adapt itself to surrounding conditions.

In general the rule may be laid down that a little more than one half as much seed should be used in dry-farm districts with an annual rainfall of about fifteen inches than is used in humid districts. That is, as against the customary five pecks of wheat used per acre in humid countries about three pecks or even two pecks should be used on dry-farms. Merrill recommends the seeding of oats at the rate of about three pecks per acre; of barley, about three pecks; of rye, two pecks; of alfalfa, six pounds; of corn, two kernels to the hill, and other crops in the same proportion. No invariable rule can be laid down for perfect germination. A small quantity of seed is usually sufficient; but where germination frequently fails in part, more seed must be used. If the stand is too thick at the beginning of the growing season, it must be harrowed out. Naturally, the quantity of seed to be used should be based on the number of kernels as well as on the weight. For instance, since the larger the individual wheat kernels the fewer in a bushel, fewer plants would be produced from a bushel of large than from a bushel of small seed wheat. The size of the seed in determining the amount for sowing is often important and should be determined by some simple method, such as counting the seeds required to fill a small bottle.

Method of sowing

There should really be no need of discussing the method of sowing were it not that even at this day there are farmers in the dry-farm district who sow by broadcasting and insist upon the superiority of this method. The broadcasting of seed has no place in any system of scientific agriculture, least of all in dry-farming, where success depends upon the degree with which all conditions are controlled. In all good dry-farm practice seed should be placed in rows, preferably by means of one of the numerous forms of drill seeders found upon the market. The advantages of the drill are almost self-evident. It permits uniform distribution of the seed, which is indispensable for success on soils that receive limited rainfall. The seed may be placed at an even depth, which is very necessary, especially in fall sowing, where the seed depends for proper germination upon the moisture already stored in the soil. The deep seeding often necessary under dry-farm conditions makes the drill indispensable. Moreover, Hunt has explained that the drill furrows themselves have definite advantages. During the winter the furrows catch the snow, and because of the protection thus rendered, the seed is less likely to be heaved out by repeated freezing and thawing. The drill furrow also protects to a certain extent against the drying action of winds and in that way, though the furrows are small, they aid materially in enabling the young plant to pass through the winter successfully. The rains of fall and spring are accumulated in the furrows and made easily accessible to plants. Moreover, many of the drills have attachments whereby the soil is pressed around the seed and the topsoil afterwards stirred to prevent evaporation. This permits of a much more rapid and complete germination. The drill, the advantages of which were taught two hundred years ago by Jethro Tull, is one of the most valuable implements of modern agriculture. On dry-farms it is indispensable. The dry-farmer should make a careful study of the drills on the market and choose such as comply with the principles of the successful prosecution of dry-farming. Drill culture is the only method of sowing that can be permitted if uniform success is desired.

The care of the crop

Excepting the special treatment for soil-moisture conservation, dry-farm crops should receive the treatment usually given crops growing under humid conditions. The light rains that frequently fall in autumn sometimes form a crust on the top of the soil, which hinders the proper germination and growth of the fall-sown crop. It may be necessary, therefore, for the farmer to go over the land in the fall with a disk or more preferably with a corrugated roller.

Ordinarily, however, after fall sowing there is no further need of treatment until the following spring. The spring treatment is of considerably more importance, for when the warmth of spring and early summer begins to make itself felt, a crust forms over many kinds of dry-farm soils. This is especially true where the soil is of the distinctively arid kind and poor in organic matter. Such a crust should be broken early in order to give the young plants a chance to develop freely. This may be accomplished, as above stated, by the use of a disk, corrugated roller, or ordinary smoothing harrow.

When the young grain is well under way, it may be found to be too thick. If so, the crop may be thinned by going over the field with a good irontooth harrow with the teeth so set as to tear out a portion of the plants. This treatment may enable the remaining plants to mature with the limited amount of moisture in the soil. Paradoxically, if the crop seems to be too thin in the spring, harrowing may also be of service. In such a case the teeth should be slanted backwards and the harrowing done simply for the purpose of stirring the soil without injury to the plant, to conserve the moisture stored in the soil and to accelerate the formation of nitrates.—The conserved moisture and added fertility will strengthen the growth and diminish the water requirements of the plants, and thus yield a larger crop. The iron-tooth harrow is a very useful implement on the dry-farm when the crops are young. After the plants are up so high that the harrow cannot be used on them no special care need be given them, unless indeed they are cultivated crops like corn or potatoes which, of course, as explained in previous chapters, should receive continual cultivation.


The methods of harvesting crops on dry-farms are practically those for farms in humid districts. The one great exception may be the use of the header on the grain farms of the dry-farm sections. The header has now become well-nigh general in its use. Instead of cutting and binding the grain, as in the old method, the heads are simply cut off and piled in large stacks which later are threshed. The high straw which remains is plowed under in the fall and helps to supply the soil with organic matter. The maintenance of dry-farms for over a generation without the addition of manures has been made possible by the organic matter added to the soil in the decay of the high vigorous straw remaining after the header. In fact, the changes occurring in the soil in connection with the decaying of the header stubble appear to have actually increased the available fertility. Hundreds of Utah dry wheat farms during the last ten or twelve years have increased in fertility, or at least in productive power, due undoubtedly to the introduction of the header system of harvesting. This system of harvesting also makes the practice of fallowing much more effective, for it helps maintain the organic matter which is drawn upon by the fallow seasons. The header should be used wherever practicable. The fear has been expressed that the high header straw plowed under will make the soil so loose as to render proper sowing difficult and also, because of the easy circulation of air in the upper soil layers, cause a large loss of soil-moisture. This fear has been found to be groundless, for wherever the header straw has been plowed under; especially in connection with fallowing, the soil has been benefited.

Rapidity and economy in harvesting are vital factors in dry-farming, and new devices are constantly being offered to expedite the work. Of recent years the combined harvester and thresher has come into general use. It is a large header combined with an ordinary threshing machine. The grain is headed and threshed in one operation and the sacks dropped along the path of the machine. The straw is scattered over the field where it belongs.

All in all, the question of sowing, care of crop, and harvesting may be answered by the methods that have been so well developed in countries of abundant rainfall, except as new methods may be required to offset the deficiency in the rainfall which is the determining condition of dry-farming.


The work of the dry-farmer is only half done when the soil has been properly prepared, by deep plowing, cultivation, fallowing, for the planting of the crop. The choice of the crop, its proper seeding, and its correct care and harvesting are as important as rational soil treatment in the successful pursuit of dry-farming. It is true that in general the kinds of crops ordinarily cultivated in humid regions are grown also on arid lands, but varieties especially adapted to the prevailing dry-farm conditions must be used if any certainty of harvest is desired. Plants possess a marvelous power of adaptation to environment, and this power becomes stronger as successive generations of plants are grown under the given conditions. Thus, plants which have been grown for long periods of time in countries of abundant rainfall and characteristic humid climate and soil yield well under such conditions, but usually suffer and die or at best yield scantily if planted in hot rainless countries with deep soils. Yet, such plants, if grown year after year under arid conditions, become accustomed to warmth and dryness and in time will yield perhaps nearly as well or it may be better in their new surroundings. The dry-farmer who looks for large harvests must use every care to secure varieties of crops that through generations of breeding have become adapted to the conditions prevailing on his farm. Home-grown seeds, if grown properly, are therefore of the highest value. In fact, in the districts where dry-farming has been practiced longest the best yielding varieties are, with very few exceptions, those that have been grown for many successive years on the same lands. The comparative newness of the attempts to produce profitable crops in the present dry-farming territory and the consequent absence of home-grown seed has rendered it wise to explore other regions of the world, with similar climatic conditions, but long inhabited, for suitable crop varieties. The United States Department of Agriculture has accomplished much good work in this direction. The breeding of new varieties by scientific methods is also important, though really valuable results cannot be expected for many years to come. When results do come from breeding experiments, they will probably be of the greatest value to the dry-farmer. Meanwhile, it must be acknowledged that at the present, our knowledge of dry-farm crops is extremely limited. Every year will probably bring new additions to the list and great improvements of the crops and varieties now recommended. The progressive dry-farmer should therefore keep in close touch with state and government workers concerning the best varieties to use.

Moreover, while the various sections of the dry-farming territory are alike in receiving a small amount of rainfall, they are widely different in other conditions affecting plant growth, such as soils, winds, average temperature, and character and severity of the winters. Until trials have been made in all these varying localities, it is not safe to make unqualified recommendations of any crop or crop variety. At the present we can only say that for dry-farm purposes we must have plants that will produce the maximum quantity of dry matter with the minimum quantity of water; and that their periods of growth must be the shortest possible. However, enough work has been done to establish some general rules for the guidance of the dry-farmer in the selection of crops. Undoubtedly, we have as yet had only a glimpse of the vast crop possibilities of the dry-farming territory in the United States, as well as in other countries.


Wheat is the leading dry-farm crop. Every prospect indicates that it will retain its preëminence. Not only is it the most generally used cereal, but the world is rapidly learning to depend more and more upon the dry-farming areas of the world for wheat production. In the arid and semiarid regions it is now a commonly accepted doctrine that upon the expensive irrigated lands should be grown fruits, vegetables, sugar beets, and other intensive crops, while wheat, corn, and other grains and even much of the forage should be grown as extensive crops upon the non-irrigated or dry-farm lands. It is to be hoped that the time is near at hand when it will be a rarity to see grain grown upon irrigated soil, providing the climatic conditions permit the raising of more extensive crops.

In view of the present and future greatness of the wheat crop on semiarid lands, it is very important to secure the varieties that will best meet the varying dry-farm conditions. Much has been done to this end, but more needs to be done. Our knowledge of the best wheats is still fragmentary. This is even more true of other dry-farm crops. According to Jardine, the dry-farm wheats grown at present in the United States may be classificd as follows:—

I. Hard spring wheats: (a) Common (b) Durum

II. Winter wheats: (a) Hard wheats (Crimean) (b) Semihard wheats (Intermountain) (c) Soft wheats (Pactfic)

The common varieties of hard _spring wheats _are grown principally in districts where winter wheats have not as yet been successful; that is, in the Dakotas, northwestern Nebraska, and other localities with long winters and periods of alternate thawing and severe freezing. The superior value of winter wheat has been so clearly demonstrated that attempts are being made to develop in every locality winter wheats that can endure the prevailing climatic conditions. Spring wheats are also grown in a scattering way and in small quantities over the whole dry-farm territory. The two most valuable varieties of the common hard spring wheat are Blue Stem and Red Fife, both well-established varieties of excellent milling qualities, grown in immense quantities in the Northeastern corner of the dry-farm territory of the United States and commanding the best prices on the markets of the world. It is notable that Red Fife originated in Russia, the country which has given us so many good dry-farm crops.

The durum wheats or macaroni wheats, as they are often called, are also spring wheats which promise to displace all other spring varieties because of their excellent yields under extreme dry-farm conditions. These wheats, though known for more than a generation through occasional shipments from Russia, Algeria, and Chile, were introduced to the farmers of the United States only in 1900, through the explorations and enthusiastic advocacy of Carleton of the United States Department of Agriculture. Since that time they have been grown in nearly all the dryfarm states and especially in the Great Plains area. Wherever tried they have yielded well, in some cases as much as the old established winter varieties. The extreme hardness of these wheats made it difficult to induce the millers operating mills fitted for grinding softer wheats to accept them for flourmaking purposes. This prejudice has, however, gradually vanished, and to-day the durum wheats are in great demand, especially for blending with the softer wheats and for the making of macaroni. Recently the popularity of the durum wheats among the farmers has been enhanced, owing to the discovery that they are strongly rust resistant.

The _winter wheats, _as has been repeatedly suggested in preceding chapters, are most desirable for dry-farm purposes, wherever they can be grown, and especially in localities where a fair precipitation occurs in the winter and spring. The hard winter wheats are represented mainly by the Crimean group, the chief members of which are Turkey, Kharkow, and Crimean. These wheats also originated in Russia and are said to have been brought to the United States a generation ago by Mennonite colonists. At present these wheats are grown chiefly in the central and southern parts of the Great Plains area and in Canada, though they are rapidly spreading over the intermountain country. These are good milling wheats of high gluten content and yielding abundantly under dry-farm conditions. It is quite clear that these wheats will soon displace the older winter wheats formerly grown on dry-farms. Turkey wheat promises to become the leading dry-farm wheat. The semisoft winter wheats are grown chiefly in the intermountain country. They are represented by a very large number of varieties, all tending toward softness and starchiness. This may in part be due to climatic, soil, and irrigation conditions, but is more likely a result of inherent qualities in the varieties used. They are rapidly being displaced by hard varieties.

The group of soft winter wheats includes numerous varieties grown extensively in the famous wheat districts of California, Oregon, Washington, and northern Idaho. The main varieties are Red Russian and Palouse Blue Stem, in Washington and Idaho, Red Chaff and Foise in Oregon, and Defiance, Little Club, Sonora, and White Australian in California. These are all soft, white, and rather poor in gluten. It is believed that under given climatic, soil, and cultural conditions, all wheat varieties will approach one type, distinctive of the conditions in question, and that the California wheat type is a result of prevailing unchangeable conditions. More researeh is needed, however, before definite principles can be laid down concerning the formation of distinctive wheat types in the various dry-farm sections. Under any condition, a change of seed, keeping improvement always in view, should be baneficial.

Jardine has reminded the dry-farmers of the United States that before the production of wheat on the dry-farms can reach its full possibilities under any acreage, sufficient quantities must be grown of a few varieties to affect the large markets. This is especially important in the intermountain country where no uniformity exists, but the warning should be heeded also by the Pacific coast and Great Plains wheat areas. As soon as the best varieties are found they should displace the miscellaneous collection of wheat varieties now grown. The individual farmer can be a law unto himself no more in wheat growing than in fruit growing, if he desires to reap the largest reward of his efforts. Only by uniformity of kind and quality and large production will any one locality impress itself upon the markets and create a demand. The changes now in progress by the dry-farmers of the United States indicate that this lesson has been taken to heart. The principle is equally important for all countries where dry-farming is practiced.

Other small grains

_Oats _is undoubtedly a coming dry-farm crop. Several varieties have been found which yield well on lands that receive an average annual rainfall of less than fifteen inches. Others will no doubt be discovered or developed as special attention is given to dry-farm oats. Oats occurs as spring and winter varieties, but only one winter variety has as yet found place in the list of dry-farm crops. The leading; spring varieties of oats are the Sixty-Day, Kherson, Burt, and Swedish Select. The one winter variety, which is grown chiefly in Utah, is the Boswell, a black variety originally brought from England about 1901.

_Barley, _like the other common grains, occurs in varieties that grow well on dry-farms. In comparison with wheat very little seareh has been made for dry-farm barleys, and, naturally, the list of tested varieties is very small. Like wheat and oats, barley occurs in spring and winter varieties, but as in the case of oats only one winter variety has as yet found its way into the approved list of dry-farm crops. The best dry-farm spring barleys are those belonging to the beardless and hull-less types, though the more common varieties also yield well, especially the six-rowed beardless barley. The winter variety is the Tennessee Winter, which is already well distributed over the Great Plains district.

_Rye _is one of the surest dry-farm crops. It yields good crops of straw and grain, both of which are valuable stock foods. In fact, the great power of rye to survive and grow luxuriantly under the most trying dry-farm conditions is the chief objection to it. Once started, it is hard to eradicate. Properly cultivated and used either as a stock feed or as green manure, it is very valuable. Rye occurs as both spring and winter varieties. The winter varieties are usually most satisfactory.

Carleton has recommended _emmer _as a crop peculiarly adapted to semiarid conditions. Emmer is a species of wheat to the berries of which the chaff adheres very closely. It is highly prized as a stock feed. In Russia and Germany it is grown in very large quantities. It is especially adapted to arid and semiarid conditions, but will probably thrive best where the winters are dry and summers wet. It exists as spring and winter varieties. is with the other small grains, the success of emmer will depend largely upon the satisfactory development of winter varieties.


Of all crops yet tried on dry-farms, corn is perhaps the most uniformly successful under extreme dry conditions. If the soil treatment and planting have been right, the failures that have been reported may invariably be traced to the use of seed which had not been acclimated. The American Indians grow corn which is excellent for dry-farm purposes; many of the western farmers have likewise produced strains that use the minimum of moisture, and, moreover, corn brought from humid sections adapts itself to arid conditions in a very few years. Escobar reports a native corn grown in Mexico with low stalks and small ears that well endures desert conditions. In extremely dry years corn does not always produce a profitable crop of seed, but the crop as a whole, for forage purposes, seldom fails to pay expenses and leave a margin for profit. In wetter years there is a corresponding increase of the corn crop. The dryfarming territory does not yet realize the value of corn as a dry-farm crop. The known facts concerning corn make it safe to predict, however, that its dry farm acreage will increase rapidly, and that in time it will crowd the wheat crop for preëminence.


Among dry-farm crops not popularly known are the sorghums, which promise to become excellent yielders under arid conditions. The sorghums are supposed to have come grown the tropical sections of the globe, but they are now scattered over the earth in all climes. The sorghums have been known in the United States for over half a century, but it was only when dry-farming began to develop so tremendously that the drouth-resisting power of the sorghums was recalled. According to Ball, the sorghums fall into the following classes:—


1. Broom corns 2. Sorgas or sweet sorghums 3. Kafirs 4. Durras

The broom corns are grown only for their brush, and are not considered in dry-farming; the sorgas for forage and sirups, and are especially adapted for irrigation or humid conditions, though they are said to endure dry-farm conditions better than corn. The Kafirs are dry-farm crops and are grown for grain and forage. This group includes Red Kafir, White Kafir, Black-hulled White Kafir, and White Milo, all of which are valuable for dry-farming. The Durras are grown almost exclusively for seed and include Jerusalem corn, Brown Durra, and Milo. The work of Ball has made Milo one of the most important dry-farm crops. As improved, the crop is from four to four and a half feet high, with mostly erect heads, carrying a large quantity of seeds. Milo is already a staple crop in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and New Mexico. It has further been shown to be adapted to conditions in the Dakotas, Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and Idaho. It will probably be found, in some varietal form, valuable over the whole dry-farm territory where the altitude is not too high and the average temperature not too low.

It has yielded an average of forty bushels of seed to the acre.

Lucern or alfalfa

Next to human intelligence and industry, alfalfa has probably been the chief factor in the development of the irrigated West. It has made possible a rational system of agriculture, with the live-stock industry and the maintenance of soil fertility as the central considerations. Alfalfa is now being recognized as a desirable crop in humid as well as in irrigated sections, and it is probable that alfalfa will soon become the chief hay crop of the United States. Originally, lucern came from the hot dry countries of Asia, where it supplied feed to the animals of the first historical peoples. Moreover, its long; tap roots, penetrating sometimes forty or fifty feet into the ground, suggest that lucern may make ready use of deeply stored soil-moisture. On these considerations, alone, lucern should prove itself a crop well suited for dry-farming. In fact, it has been demonstrated that where conditions are favorable, lucern may be made to yield profitable crops under a rainfall between twelve and fifteen inches. Alfalfa prefers calcareous loamy soils; sandy and heavy clay soils are not so well adapted for successful alfalfa production. Under dry-farm conditions the utmost care must be used to prevent too thick seeding. The vast majority of alfalfa failures on dry-farms have resulted from an insufficient supply of moisture for the thickly planted crop. The alfalfa field does not attain its maturity until after the second year, and a crop which looks just right the second year will probably be much too thick the third and fourth years. From four to six pounds of seed per acre are usually ample. Another main cause of failure is the common idea that the lucern field needs little or no cultivation, when, in fact, the alfalfa field should receive as careful soil treatment as the wheat field. Heavy, thorough disking in spring or fall, or both, is advisable, for it leaves the topsoil in a condition to prevent evaporation and admit air. In Asiatic and North African countries, lucern is frequently cultivated between rows throughout the hot season. This has been tried by Brand in this country and with very good results. Since the crop should always be sown with a drill, it is comparatively easy to regulate the distance between the rows so that cultivating implements may be used. If thin seeding and thorough soil stirring are practiced, lucern usually grows well, and with such treatment should become one of the great dry-farm crops. The yield of hay is not large, but sufficient to leave a comfortable margin of profit. Many farmers find it more profitable to grow dry-farm lucern for seed. In good years from fifty to one hundred and fifty dollars may be taken from an acre of lucern seed. However, at the present, the principles of lucern seed production are not well established, and the seed crop is uncertain.

Alfalfa is a leguminous crop and gathers nitrogen from the air. It is therefore a good fertilizer. The question of soil fertility will become more important with the passing of the years, and the value of lucern as a land improver will then be more evident than it is to-day.

Other leguminous crops

The group of leguminous or pod-bearing crops is of great importance; first, because it is rich in nitrogenous substances which are valuable animal foods, and, secondly, because it has the power of gathering nitrogen from the air, which can be used for maintaining the fertility of the soil. Dry-farming will not be a wholly safe practice of agriculture until suitable leguminous crops are found and made part of the crop system. It is notable that over the whole of the dry-farm territory of this and other countries wild leguminous plants flourish. That is, nitrogen-gathering plants are at work on the deserts. The farmer upsets this natural order of things by cropping the land with wheat and wheat only, so long as the land will produce profitably. The leguminous plants native to dry-farm areas have not as yet been subjected to extensive economic study, and in truth very little is known concerning leguminous plants adapted to dry-farming.

In California, Colorado, and other dry-farm states the field pea has been grown with great profit. Indeed it has been found much more profitable than wheat production. The field bean, likewise, has been grown successfully under dry-farm conditions, under a great variety of climates. In Mexico and other southern climates, the native population produce large quantities of beans upon their dry lands.

Shaw suggests that sanfoin, long famous for its service to European agriculture, may be found to be a profitable dry-farm crop, and that sand vetch promises to become an excellent dry-farm crop. It is very likely, however, that many of the leguminous crops which have been developed under conditions of abundant rainfall will be valueless on dry-farm lands. Every year will furnish new and more complete information on this subject. Leguminous plants will surely become important members of the association of dry-farm crops.

Trees and shrubs

So far, trees cannot be said to be dry-farm crops, though facts are on record that indicate that by the application of correct dry-farm principles trees may be made to grow and yield profitably on dry-farm lands. Of course, it is a well-known fact that native trees of various kinds are occasionally found growing on the deserts, where the rainfall is very light and the soil has been given no care. Examples of such vegetation are the native cedars found throughout the Great Basin region and the mesquite tree in Arizona and the Southwest. Few farmers in the arid region have as yet undertaken tree culture without the aid of irrigation.

At least one peach orchard is known in Utah which grows under a rainfall of about fifteen inches without irrigation and produces regularly a small crop of most delicious fruit. Parsons describes his Colorado dry-farm orchard in which, under a rainfall of almost fourteen inches, he grows, with great profit, cherries, plums, and apples. A number of prospering young orchards are growing without irrigation in the Great Plains area. Mason discovered a few years ago two olive orchards in Arizona and the Colorado desert which, planted about fourteen years previously, were thriving under an annual rainfall of eight and a half and four and a half inches, respectively. These olive orchards had been set out under canals which later failed. Such attested facts lead to the thought that trees may yet take their place as dry-farm crops. This hope is strengthened when it is recalled that the great nations of antiquity, living in countries of low rainfall, grew profitably and without irrigation many valuable trees, some of which are still cultivated in those countries. The olive industry, for example, is even now being successfully developed by modern methods in Asiatic and African sections, where the average annual rainfall is under ten inches. Since 1881, under French management, the dry-farm olive trees around Tunis have increased from 45,000 to 400,000 individuals. Mason and also Aaronsohn suggest as trees that do well in the arid parts of the old world the so-called “Chinese date” or JuJube tree, the sycamore fig, and the Carob tree, which yields the “St. John’s Bread” so dear to childhood.

Of this last tree, Aaronsolm says that twenty trees to the acre, under a rainfall of twelve inches, will produce 8000 pounds of fruit containing 40 per cent of sugar and 7 to 8 per cent of protein. This surpasses the best harvest of alfalfa. Kearnley, who has made a special study of dry-land olive culture in northern Africa, states that in his belief a large variety of fruit trees may be found which will do well under arid and semiarid conditions, and may even yield more profit than the grains.

It is also said that many shade and ornamental and other useful plants can be grown on dry-farms; as, for instance, locust, elm, black walnut, silverpoplar, catalpa, live oak, black oak, yellow pine, red spruce, Douglas fir, and cedar.

The secret of success in tree growing on dry-farms seems to lie, first, in planting a few trees per acre,—the distance apart should be twice the ordinary distance,—and, secondly, in applying vigorously and unceasingly the established principles of soil cultivation. In a soil stored deeply with moisture and properly cultivated, most plants will grow. If the soil has not been carefully fallowed before planting, it may be necessary to water the young trees slightly during the first two seasons.

Small fruits have been tried on many farms with great success. Plums, currants, and gooseberries have all been successful. Grapes grow and yield well in many dry-farm districts, especially along the warm foothills of the Great Basin. Tree growing on dry-farm lands is not yet well established and, therefore, should be undertaken with great care. Varieties accustomed to the climatic environment should be chosen, and the principles outlined in the preceding pages should be carefully used.


In recent years, potatoes have become one of the best dry-farm crops. Almost wherever tried on lands under a rainfall of twelve inches or more potatoes have given comparatively large yields. To-day, the growing of dry-farm potatoes is becoming an important industry. The principles of light seeding and thorough cultivation are indispensable for success. Potatoes are well adapted for use in rotations, where summer fallowing is not thought desirable. Macdonald enumerates the following as the best varieties at present used on dry-farms: Ohio, Mammoth, Pearl, Rural New Yorker, and Burbank.


A further list of dry-farm crops would include representatives of nearly all economic plants, most of them tried in small quantity in various localities. Sugar beets, vegetables, bulbous plants, etc., have all been grown without irrigation under dry-farm conditions. Some of these will no doubt be found to be profitable and will then be brought into the commercial scheme of dry-farming.

Meanwhile, the crop problems of dry-farming demand that much careful work be done in the immediate future by the agencies having such work in charge. The best varieties of crops already in profitable use need to be determined. More new plants from all parts of the world need to be brought to this new dry-farm territory and tried out. Many of the native plants need examination with a view to their economic use. For instance, the sego lily bulbs, upon which the Utah pioneers subsisted for several seasons of famine, may possibly be made a cultivated crop. Finally, it remains to be said that it is doubtful wisdom to attempt to grow the more intensive crops on dry-farms. Irrigation and dry-farming will always go together. They are supplementary systems of agriculture in arid and semiarid regions. On the irrigated lands should be grown the crops that require much labor per acre and that in return yield largely per acre. New crops and varieties should besought for the irrigated farms. On the dry-farms should be grown the crops that can be handled in a large way and at a small cost per acre, and that yield only moderate acre returns. By such cooperation between irrigation and dry-farming will the regions of the world with a scanty rainfall become the healthiest, wealthiest, happiest, and most populous on earth.


The acre-yields of crops on dry-farms, even under the most favorable methods of culture, are likely to be much smaller than in humid sections with fertile soils. The necessity for frequent fallowing or resting periods over a large portion of the dry-farm territory further decreases the average annual yield. It does not follow from this condition that dry-farming is less profitable than humid-or irrigation-farming, for it has been fully demonstrated that the profit on the investment is as high under proper dry-farming as under any other similar generally adopted system of farming in any part of the world. Yet the practice of dry-farming would appear to be, and indeed would be, much more desirable could the crop yield be increased. The discovery of any condition which will offset the small annual yields is, therefore, of the highest importance to the advancement of dry-farming. The recognition of the superior quality of practically all crops grown without irrigation under a limited rainfall has done much to stimulate faith in the great profitableness of dry-farming. As the varying nature of the materials used by man for food, clothing, and shelter has become more clearly understood, more attention has been given to the valuation of commercial products on the basis of quality as well as of quantity. Sugar beets, for instance, are bought by the sugar factories under a guarantee of a minimum sugar content; and many factories of Europe vary the price paid according to the sugar contained by the beets. The millers, especially in certain parts of the country where wheat has deteriorated, distinguish carefully between the flour-producing qualities of wheats from various sections and fix the price accordingly. Even in the household, information concerning the real nutritive value of various foods is being sought eagerly, and foods let down to possess the highest value in the maintenance of life are displacing, even at a higher cost, the inferior products. The quality valuation is, in fact, being extended as rapidly as the growth of knowledge will permit to the chief food materials of commerce. As this practice becomes fixed the dry-farmer will be able to command the best market prices for his products, for it is undoubtedly true that from the point of view of quality, dry-farm food products may be placed safely in competition with any farm products on the markets of the world.

Proportion of plant parts

It need hardly be said, after the discussions in the preceding chapters, that the nature of plant growth is deeply modified by the arid conditions prevailing in dry-farming. This shows itself first in the proportion of the various plant parts, such as roots, stems, leaves, and seeds. The root systems of dry-farm crops are generally greatly developed, and it is a common observation that in adverse seasons the plants that possess the largest and most vigorous roots endure best the drouth and burning heat. The first function of the leaves is to gather materials for the building and strengthening of the roots, and only after this has been done do the stems lengthen and the leaves thicken. Usually, the short season is largely gone before the stem and leaf growth begins, and, consequently, a somewhat dwarfed appearance is characteristic of dry-farm crops. The size of sugar beets, potato tubers, and such underground parts depends upon the available water and food supply when the plant has established a satisfactory root and leaf system. If the water and food are scarce, a thin beet results; if abundant, a well-filled beet may result.

Dry-farming is characterized by a somewhat short season. Even if good growing weather prevails, the decrease of water in the soil has the effect of hastening maturity. The formation of flowers and seed begins, therefore, earlier and is completed more quickly under arid than under humid conditions. Moreover, and resulting probably from the greater abundance of materials stored in the root system, the proportion of heads to leaves and stems is highest in dry-farm crops. In fact, it is a general law that the proportion of heads to straw in grain crops increases as the water supply decreases. This is shown very well even under humid or irrigation conditions when different seasons or different applications of irrigation water are compared. For instance, Hall quotes from the Rothamsted experiments to the effect that in 1879, which was a wet year (41 inches), the wheat crop yielded 38 pounds of grain for every 100 pounds of straw; whereas, in 1893, which was a dry year (23 inches), the wheat crop yielded 95 pounds of grain to every 100 pounds of straw. The Utah station likewise has established the same law under arid conditions. In one series of experiments it was shown as an average of three years’ trial that a field which had received 22.5 inches of irrigation water produced a wheat crop that gave 67 pounds of grain to every 100 pounds of straw; while another field which received only 7.5 inches of irrigation water produced a crop that gave 100 pounds of grain for every 100 pounds of straw. Since wheat is grown essentially for the grain, such a variation is of tremendous importance. The amount of available water affects every part of the plant. Thus, as an illustration, Carleton states that the per cent of meat in oats grown in Wisconsin under humid conditions was 67.24, while in North Dakota, Kansas, and Montana, under arid and semiarid conditions, it was 71.51. Similar variations of plant parts may be observed as a direct result of varying the amount of available water. In general then, it may be said that the roots of dry-farm crops are well developed; the parts above ground somewhat dwarfed; the proportion of seed to straw high, and the proportion of meat or nutritive materials in the plant parts likewise high.

The water in dry-farm crops

One of the constant constituents of all plants and plant parts is water. Hay, flour, and starch contain comparatively large quantities of water, which can be removed only by heat. The water in green plants is often very large. In young lucern, for instance, it reaches 85 per cent, and in young peas nearly 90 per cent, or more than is found in good cow’s milk. The water so held by plants has no nutritive value above ordinary water. It is, therefore, profitable for the consumer to buy dry foods. In this particular, again, dry-farm crops have a distinct advantage: During growth there is not perhaps a great difference in the water content of plants, due to climatic differences, but after harvest the drying-out process goes on much more completely in dry-farm than in humid districts. Hay, cured in humid regions, often contains from 12 to 20 per cent of water; in arid climates it contains as little as 5 per cent and seldom more than 12 per cent. The drier hay is naturally more valuable pound for pound than the moister hay, and a difference in price, based upon the difference in water content, is already being felt in certain sections of the West.

The moisture content of dry-farm wheat, the chief dry-farm crop, is even more important. According to Wiley the average water content of wheat for the United States is 10.62 per cent, ranging from 15 to 7 per cent. Stewart and Greaves examined a large number of wheats grown on the dry-farms of Utah and found that the average per cent of water in the common bread varieties was 8.46 and in the durum varieties 8.89. This means that the Utah dry-farm wheats transported to ordinary humid conditions would take up enough water from the air to increase their weight one fortieth, or 2.2 per cent, before they reached the average water content of American wheats. In other words, 1,000,000 bushels of Utah dry-farm wheat contain as much nutritive matter as 1,025,000 bushels of wheat grown and kept under humid conditions. This difference should be and now is recognized in the prices paid. In fact, shrewd dealers, acquainted with the dryness of dry-farm wheat, have for some years bought wheat from the dry-farms at a slightly increased price, and trusted to the increase in weight due to water absorption in more humid climates for their profits. The time should be near at hand when grains and similar products should be purchased upon the basis of a moisture test.

While it is undoubtedly true that dry-farm crops are naturally drier than those of humid countries, yet it must also be kept in mind that the driest dry-farm crops are always obtained where the summers are hot and rainless. In sections where the precipitation comes chiefly in the spring and summer the difference would not be so great. Therefore, the crops raised on the Great Plains would not be so dry as those raised in California or in the Great Basin. Yet, wherever the annual rainfall is so small as to establish dry-farm conditions, whether it comes in the winter or summer, the cured crops are drier than those produced under conditions of a much higher rainfall, and dry farmers should insist that, so far as possible in the future, sales be based on dry matter.

The nutritive substances in crops

The dry matter of all plants and plant parts consists of three very distinct classes of substances: First, ash or the mineral constituents. Ash is used by the body in building bones and in supplying the blood with compounds essential to the various life processes. Second, protein or the substances containing the element nitrogen. Protein is used by the body in making blood, muscle, tendons, hair, and nails, and under certain conditions it is burned within the body for the production of heat. Protein is perhaps the most important food constituent. Third, non-nitrogenous substances, including fats, woody fiber, and nitrogen-free extract, a name given to the group of sugars, starehes, and related substances. These substances are used by the body in the production of fat, and are also burned for the production of heat. Of these valuable food constituents protein is probably the most important, first, because it forms the most important tissues of the body and, secondly, because it is less abundant than the fats, starches, and sugars. Indeed, plants rich in protein nearly always command the highest prices.

The composition of any class of plants varies considerably in different localities and in different seasons. This may be due to the nature of the soil, or to the fertilizer applied, though variations in plant composition resulting from soil conditions are comparatively small. The greater variations are almost wholly the result of varying climate and water supply. As far as it is now known the strongest single factor in changing the composition of plants is the amount of water available to the growing plant.

Variations due to varying water supply

The Utah station has conducted numerous experiments upon the effect of water upon plant composition. The method in every case has been to apply different amounts of water throughout the growing season on contiguous plats of uniform land. [Lengthy table deleated from this edition.] Even a casual study of . . . [the results show] that the quantity of water used influenced the composition of the plant parts. The ash and the fiber do not appear to be greatly influenced, but the other constituents vary with considerable regularity with the variations in the amount of irrigation water. The protein shows the greatest variation. As the irrigation water is increased, the percentage of protein decreases. In the case of wheat the variation was over 9 per cent. The percentage of fat and nitrogen-free extract, on the other hand, becomes larger as the water increases. That is, crops grown with little water, as in dry-farming, are rich in the important flesh-and blood-forming substance protein, and comparatively poor in fat, sugar, stareh, and other of the more abundant heat and fat-producing substances. This difference is of tremendous importance in placing dry-farming products on the food markets of the world. Not only seeds, tubers, and roots show this variation, but the stems and leaves of plants grown with little water are found to contain a higher percentage of protein than those grown in more humid climates.

The direct effect of water upon the composition of plants has been observed by many students. For instance, Mayer, working in Holland, found that, in a soil containing throughout the season 10 per cent of water, oats was produced containing 10.6 per cent of protein; in soil containing 30 per cent of water, the protein percentage was only 5.6 per cent, and in soil containing 70 per cent of water, it was only 5.2 per cent. Carleton, in a study of analyses of the same varieties of wheat grown in humid and semi-arid districts of the United States, found that the percentage of protein in wheat from the semiarid area was 14.4 per cent as against 11.94 per cent in the wheat from the humid area. The average protein content of the wheat of the United States is a little more than 12 per cent; Stewart and Greaves found an average of 16.76 per cent of protein in Utah dry-farm wheats of the common bread varieties and 17.14 per cent in the durum varieties. The experiments conducted at Rothamsted, England, as given by Hall, confirm these results. For example, during 1893, a very dry year, barley kernels contained 12.99 per cent of protein, while in 1894, a wet, though free-growing year, the barley contained only 9.81 per cent of protein. Quotations might be multiplied confirming the principle that crops grown with little water contain much protein and little heat-and fat-producing substances.

Climate and composition

The general climate, especially as regards the length of the growing season and naturally including the water supply, has a strong effect upon the composition of plants. Carleton observed that the same varieties of wheat grown at Nephi, Utah, contained 16.61 per cent protein; at Amarillo, Texas, 15.25 per cent; and at McPherson, Kansas, a humid station, 13.04 per cent. This variation is undoubtedly due in part to the varying annual precipitation but, also, and in large part, to the varying general climatic conditions at the three stations.

An extremely interesting and important experiment, showing the effect of locality upon the composition of wheat kernels, is reported by LeClerc and Leavitt. Wheat grown in 1905 in Kansas was planted in 1906 in Kansas, California, and Texas In 1907 samples of the seeds grown at these three points were planted side by side at each of the three states All the crops from the three localities were analyzed separately each year.

The results are striking and convincing. The original seed grown in Kansas in 1905 contained 16.22 per cent of protein. The 1906 crop grown from this seed in Kansas contained 19.13 per cent protein; in California, 10.38 percent; and in Texas, 12.18 percent. In 1907 the crop harvested in Kansas from the 1906 seed from these widely separated places and of very different composition contained uniformly somewhat more than 22 per cent of protein; harvested in California, somewhat more than 11 per cent; and harvested in Texas, about 18 per cent. In short, the composition of wheat kernels is independent of the composition of the seed or the nature of the soil, but depends primarily upon the prevailing climatic conditions, including the water supply. The weight of the wheat per bushel, that is, the average size and weight of the wheat kernel, and also the hardness or flinty character of the kernels, were strongly affected by the varying climatic conditions. It is generally true that dry-farm grain weighs more per bushel than grain grown under humid conditions; hardness usually accompanies a high protein content and is therefore characteristic of dry-farm wheat. These notable lessons teach the futility of bringing in new seed from far distant places in the hope that better and larger crops may be secured. The conditions under which growth occurs determine chiefly the nature of the crop. It is a common experience in the West that farmers who do not understand this principle send to the Middle West for seed corn, with the result that great crops of stalks and leaves with no ears are obtained. The only safe rule for the dry-farmer to follow is to use seed which has been grown for many years under dry-farm conditions.

A reason for variation in composition

It is possible to suggest a reason for the high protein content of dry-farm crops. It is well known that all plants secure most of their nitrogen early in the growing period. From the nitrogen, protein is formed, and all young plants are, therefore, very rich in protein. As the plant becomes older, little more protein is added, but more and more carbon is taken from the air to form the fats, starches, sugars, and other non-nitrogenous substances. Consequently, the proportion or percentage of protein becomes smaller as the plant becomes older. The impelling purpose of the plant is to produce seed. Whenever the water supply begins to give out, or the season shortens in any other way, the plant immediately begins to ripen. Now, the essential effect of dry-farm conditions is to shorten the season; the comparatively young plants, yet rich in protein, begin to produce seed; and at harvest, seed, and leaves, and stalks are rich in the flesh-and blood-forming element of plants. In more humid countries plants delay the time of seed production and thus enable the plants to store up more carbon and thus reduce the percent of protein. The short growing season, induced by the shortness of water, is undoubtedly the main reason for the higher protein content and consequently higher nutritive value of all dry-farm crops.

Nutritive value of dry-farm hay, straw, and flour

All the parts of dry-farm crops are highly nutritious. This needs to be more clearly understood by the dry-farmers. Dry-farm hay, for instance, because of its high protein content, may be fed with crops not so rich in this element, thereby making a larger profit for the farmer. Dry-farm straw often has the feeding value of good hay, as has been demonstrated by analyses and by feeding tests conducted in times of hay scarcity. Especially is the header straw of high feeding value, for it represents the upper and more nutritious ends of the stalks. Dry-farm straw, therefore, should be carefully kept and fed to animals instead of being scattered over the ground or even burned as is too often the case. Only few feeding experiments having in view the relative feeding value of dry-farm crops have as yet been made, but the few on record agree in showing the superior value of dry-farm crops, whether fed singly or in combination.

The differences in the chemical composition of plants and plant products induced by differences in the water-supply and climatic environment appear in the manufactured products, such as flour, bran, and shorts. Flour made from Fife wheat grown on the dry-farms of Utah contained practically 16 per cent of protein, while flour made from Fife wheat grown in Lorraine and the Middle West is reported by the Maine Station as containing from 13.03 to 13.75 per cent of protein. Flour made from Blue Stem wheat grown on the Utah dry-farms contained 15.52 per cent of protein; from the same variety grown in Maine and in the Middle West 11.69 and 11.51 per cent of protein respectively. The moist and dry gluten, the gliadin and the glutenin, all of which make possible the best and most nourishing kinds of bread, are present in largest quantity and best proportion in flours made from wheats grown under typical dry-farm conditions. The by-products of the milling process, likewise, are rich in nutritive elements.

Future Needs

It has already been pointed out that there is a growing tendency to purchase food materials on the basis of composition. New discoveries in the domains of plant composition and animal nutrition and the improved methods of rapid and accurate valuation will accelerate this tendency. Even now, manufacturers of food products print on cartons and in advertising matter quality reasons for the superior food values of certain articles. At least one firm produces two parallel sets of its manufactured foods, one for the man who does hard physical labor, and the other for the brain worker. Quality, as related to the needs of the body, whether of beast or man, is rapidly becoming the first question in judging any food material. The present era of high prices makes this matter even more important.

In view of this condition and tendency, the fact that dry-farm products are unusually rich in the most valuable nutritive materials is of tremendous importance to the development of dry-farming. The small average yields of dry-farm crops do not look so small when it is known that they command higher prices per pound in competition with the larger crops of more humid climates. More elaborate investigations should be undertaken to determine the quality of crops grown in different dry-farm districts. As far as possible each section, great or small, should confine itself to the growing of a variety of each crop yielding well and possessing the highest nutritive value. In that manner each section of the great dry-farm territory would soon come to stand for some dependable special quality that would compel a first-class market. Further, the superior feeding value of dry-farm products should be thoroughly advertised among the consumers in order to create a demand on the markets for a quality valuation. A few years of such systematic honest work would do much to improve the financial basis of dry-farming.


All plants when carefully burned leave a portion of ash, ranging widely in quantity, averaging about 5 per cent, and often exceeding 10 per cent of the dry weight of the plant. This plant ash represents inorganic substances taken from the soil by the roots. In addition, the nitrogen of plants, averaging about 2 per cent and often amounting to 4 per cent, which, in burning, passes off in gaseous form, is also usually taken from the soil by the plant roots. A comparatively large quantity of the plant is, therefore, drawn directly from the soil. Among the ash ingredients are many which are taken up by the plant simply because they are present in the soil; others, on the other hand, as has been shown by numerous classical investigations, are indispensable to plant growth. If any one of these indispensable ash ingredients be absent, it is impossible for a plant to mature on such a soil. In fact, it is pretty well established that, providing the physical conditions and the water supply are satisfactory, the fertility of a soil depends largely upon the amount of available ash ingredients, or plant-food.

A clear distinction must be made between the_ total _and _available _plant-food. The essential plant-foods often occur in insoluble combinations, valueless to plants; only the plant-foods that are soluble in the soil-water or in the juices of plant roots are of value to plants. It is true that practically all soils contain all the indispensable plant-foods; it is also true, however, that in most soils they are present, as available plant-foods, in comparatively small quantities. When crops are removed from the land year after year, without any return being made, it naturally follows that under ordinary conditions the amount of available plant-food is diminished, with a strong probability of a corresponding diminution in crop-producing power. In fact, the soils of many of the older countries have been permanently injured by continuous cropping, with nothing returned, practiced through centuries. Even in many of the younger states, continuous cropping to wheat or other crops for a generation or less has resulted in a large decrease in the crop yield.

Practice and experiment have shown that such diminishing fertility may be retarded or wholly avoided, first, by so working or cultivating the soil as to set free much of the insoluble plant-food and, secondly, by returning to the soil all or part of the plant-food taken away. The recent development of the commercial fertilizer industry is a response to this truth. It may be said that, so far as the agricultural soils of the world are now known, only three of the essential plant-foods are likely to be absent, namely, potash, phosphoric acid, and nitrogen; of these, by far the most important is nitrogen. The whole question of maintaining the supply of plant-foods in the soil concerns itself in the main with the supply of these three substances.

The persistent fertility of dry-farms

In recent years, numerous farmers and some investigators have stated that under dry-farm conditions the fertility of soils is not impaired by cropping without manuring. This view has been taken because of the well-known fact that in localities where dry-farming has been practiced on the same soils from twenty-five to forty-five years, without the addition of manures, the average crop yield has not only failed to diminish, but in most cases has increased. In fact, it is the almost unanimous testimony of the oldest dry-farmers of the United States, operating under a rainfall from twelve to twenty inches, that the crop yields have increased as the cultural methods have been perfected. If any adverse effect of the steady removal of plant-foods has occurred, it has been wholly overshadowed by other factors. The older dry-farms in Utah, for instance, which are among the oldest of the country, have never been manured, yet are yielding better to-day than they did a generation ago. Strangely enough, this is not true of the irrigated farms, operating under like soil and climatic conditions. This behavior of crop production under dry-farm conditions has led to the belief that the question of soil fertility is not an important one to dry-farmers. Nevertheless, if our present theories of plant nutrition are correct, it is also true that, if continuous cropping is practiced on our dry-farm soils without some form of manuring, the time must come when the productive power of the soils will be injured and the only recourse of the farmer will be to return to the soils some of the plant-food taken from it.

The view that soil fertility is not diminished by dry-farming appears at first sight to be strengthened by the results obtained by investigators who have made determinations of the actual plant-food in soils that have long been dry-farmed. The sparsely settled condition of the dry-farm territory furnishes as yet an excellent opportunity to compare virgin and dry-farmed lands and which frequently may be found side by side in even the older dry-farm sections. Stewart found that Utah dry-farm soils, cultivated for fifteen to forty years and never manured, were in many cases richer in nitrogen than neighboring virgin lands. Bradley found that the soils of the great dry-farm wheat belt of Eastern Oregon contained, after having been farmed for a quarter of a century, practically as much nitrogen as the adjoining virgin lands. These determinations were made to a depth of eighteen inches. Alway and Trumbull, on the other hand, found in a soil from Indian Head, Saskatchewan, that in twenty-five years of cultivation the total amount of nitrogen had been reduced about one third, though the alternation of fallow and crop, commonly practiced in dry-farming, did not show a greater loss of soil nitrogen than other methods of cultivation. It must be kept in mind that the soil of Indian Head contains from two to three times as much nitrogen as is ordinarily found in the soils of the Great Plains and from three to four times as much as is found in the soils of the Great Basin and the High Plateaus. It may be assumed, therefore, that the Indian Head soil was peculiarly liable to nitrogen losses. Headden, in an investigation of the nitrogen content of Colorado soils, has come to the conclusion that arid conditions, like those of Colorado, favor the direct accumulation of nitrogen in soils. All in all, the undiminished crop yield and the composition of the cultivated fields lead to the belief that soil-fertility problems under dry-farm conditions are widely different from the old well-known problems under humid conditions.

Reasons for dry-farming fertility

It is not really difficult to understand why the yields and, apparently, the fertility of dry-farms have continued to increase during the period of recorded dry-farm history—nearly half a century.

First, the intrinsic fertility of arid as compared with humid soils is very high. (See Chapter V.) The production and removal of many successive bountiful crops would not have as marked an effect on arid as on humid soils, for both yield and composition change more slowly on fertile soils. The natural extraordinarily high fertility of dry-farm soils explains, therefore, primarily and chiefly, the increasing yields on dry-farm soils that receive proper cultivation.

The intrinsic fertility of arid soils is not alone sufficient to explain the increase in plant-food which undoubtedly occurs in the upper foot or two of cultivated dry-farm lands. In seeking a suitable explanation of this phenomenon it must be recalled that the proportion of available plant-food in arid soils is very uniform to great depths, and that plants grown under proper dry-farm conditions are deep rooted and gather much nourishment from the lower soil layers. As a consequence, the drain of a heavy crop does not fall upon the upper few feet as is usually the case in humid soils. The dry-farmer has several farms, one upon the other, which permit even improper methods of farming to go on longer than would be the case on shallower soils.

The great depth of arid soils further permits the storage of rain and snow water, as has been explained in previous chapters, to depths of from ten to fifteen feet. As the growing season proceeds, this water is gradually drawn towards the surface, and with it much of the plant-food dissolved by the water in the lower soil layers. This process repeated year after year results in a concentration in the upper soil layers of fertility normally distributed in the soil to the full depth reach by the soil-moisture. At certain seasons, especially in the fall, this concentration may be detected with greatest certainty. In general, the same action occurs in virgin lands, but the methods of dry-farm cultivation and cropping which permit a deeper penetration of the natural precipitation and a freer movement of the soil-water result in a larger quantity of plant-food reaching the upper two or three feet from the lower soil depths. Such concentration near the surface, when it is not excessive, favors the production of increased yields of crops.

The characteristic high fertility and great depth of arid soils are probably the two main factors explaining the apparent increase of the fertility of dry-farms under a system of agriculture which does not include the practice of manuring. Yet, there are other conditions that contribute largely to the result. For instance, every cultural method accepted in dry-farming, such as deep plowing, fallowing, and frequent cultivation, enables the weathering forces to act upon the soil particles. Especially is it made easy for the air to enter the soil. Under such conditions, the plant-food unavailable to plants because of its insoluble condition is liberated and made available. The practice of dry-farming is of itself more conducive to such accumulation of available plant food than are the methods of humid agriculture.

Further, the annual yield of any crop under conditions of dry-farming is smaller than under conditions of high rainfall. Less fertility is, therefore, removed by each crop and a given amount of available fertility is sufficient to produce a large number of crops without showing signs of deficiency. The comparatively small annual yield of dry-farm crops is emphasized in view of the common practice of summer fallowing, which means that the land is cropped only every other year or possibly two years out of three. Under such conditions the yield in any one year is cut in two to give an annual yield.

The use of the header wherever possible in harvesting dry-farm grain also aids materially in maintaining soil fertility. By means of the header only the heads of the grain are clipped off: the stalks are left standing. In the fall, usually, this stubble is plowed under and gradually decays. In the earlier dry-farm days farmers feared that under conditions of low rainfall, the stubble or straw plowed under would not decay, but would leave the soil in a loose dry condition unfavorable for the growth of plants. During the last fifteen years it has been abundantly demonstrated that if the correct methods of dry farming are followed, so that a fair balance of water is always found in the soil, even in the fall, the heavy, thick header stubble may be plowed into the soil with the certainty that it will decay and thus enrich the soil. The header stubble contains a very large proportion of the nitrogen that the crop has taken from the soil and more than half of the potash and phosphoric acid. Plowing under the header stubble returns all this material to the soil. Moreover, the bulk of the stubble is carbon taken from the air. This decays, forming various acid substances which act on the soil grains to set free the fertility which they contain. At the end of the process of decay humus is formed, which is not only a storehouse of plant-food, but effective in maintaining a good physical condition of the soil. The introduction of the header in dry-farming was one of the big steps in making the practice certain and profitable.

Finally, it must be admitted that there are a great many more or less poorly understood or unknown forces at work in all soils which aid in the maintenance of soil-fertility. Chief among these are the low forms of life known as bacteria. Many of these, under favorable conditions, appear to have the power of liberating food from the insoluble soil grains. Others have the power when settled on the roots of leguminous or pod-bearing plants to fix nitrogen from the air and convert it into a form suitable for the need of plants. In recent years it has been found that other forms of bacteria, the best known of which is azotobacter, have the power of gathering nitrogen from the air and combining it for the plant needs without the presence of leguminous plants. These nitrogen-gathering bacteria utilize for their life processes the organic matter in the soil, such as the decaying header stubble, and at the same time enrich the soil by the addition of combined nitrogen. Now, it so happens that these important bacteria require a soil somewhat rich in lime, well aerated and fairly dry and warm. These conditions are all met on the vast majority of our dry-farm soils, under the system of culture outlined in this volume. Hall maintains that to the activity of these bacteria must be ascribed the large quantities of nitrogen found in many virgin soils and probably the final explanation of the steady nitrogen supply for dry farms is to be found in the work of the azatobacter and related forms of low life. The potash and phosphoric acid supply can probably be maintained for ages by proper methods of cultivation, though the phosphoric acid will become exhausted long before the potash. The nitrogen supply, however, must come from without. The nitrogen question will undoubtedly soon be the one before the students of dry-farm fertility. A liberal supply of organic matter In the soil with cultural methods favoring the growth of the nitrogen-gathering bacteria appears at present to be the first solution of the nitrogen question. Meanwhile, the activity of the nitrogen-gathering bacteria, like azotobacter, is one of our best explanations of the large presence of nitrogen in cultivated dry-farm soils.

To summarize, the apparent increase in productivity and plant-food content of dry-farm soils can best be explained by a consideration of these factors: (1) the intrinsically high fertility of the arid soils; (2) the deep feeding ground for the deep root systems of dry-farm crops; (3) the concentration of the plant food distributed throughout the soil by the upward movement of the natural precipitation stored in the soil; (4) the cultural methods of dry-farming which enable the weathering agencies to liberate freely and vigorously the plant-food of the soil grains; (5) the small annual crops; (6) the plowing under of the header straw, and (7) the activity of bacteria that gather nitrogen directly from the air.

Methods of conserving soil-fertility

In view of the comparatively small annual crops that characterize dry-farming it is not wholly impossible that the factors above discussed, if properly applied, could liberate the latent plant-food of the soil and gather all necessary nitrogen for the plants. Such an equilibrium, could it once be established, would possibly continue for long periods of time, but in the end would no doubt lead to disaster; for, unless the very cornerstone of modern agricultural science is unsound, there will be ultimately a diminution of crop producing power if continuous cropping is practiced without returning to the soil a goodly portion of the elements of soil fertility taken from it. The real purpose of modern agricultural researeh is to maintain or increase the productivity of our lands; if this cannot be done, modern agriculture is essentially a failure. Dry-farming, as the newest and probably in the future one of the greatest divisions of modern agriculture, must from the beginning seek and apply processes that will insure steadiness in the productive power of its lands. Therefore, from the very beginning dry-farmers must look towards the conservation of the fertility of their soils.

The first and most rational method of maintaining the fertility of the soil indefinitely is to return to the soil everything that is taken from it. In practice this can be done only by feeding the products of the farm to live stock and returning to the soil the manure, both solid and liquid, produced by the animals. This brings up at once the much discussed question of the relation between the live stock industry and dry-farming. While it is undoubtedly true that no system of agriculture will be wholly satisfactory to the farmer and truly beneficial to the state, unless it is connected definitely with the production of live stock, yet it must be admitted that the present prevailing dry-farm conditions do not always favor comfortable animal life. For instance, over a large portion of the central area of the dry-farm territory the dry-farms are at considerable distances from running or well water. In many cases, water is hauled eight or ten miles for the supply of the men and horses engaged in farming. Moreover, in these drier districts, only certain crops, carefully cultivated, will yield profitably, and the pasture and the kitchen garden are practical impossibilities from an economic point of view. Such conditions, though profitable dry-farming is feasible, preclude the existence of the home and the barn on or even near the farm. When feed must be hauled many miles, the profits of the live stock industry are materially reduced and the dry-farmer usually prefers to grow a crop of wheat, the straw of which may be plowed under the soil to the great advantage of the following crop. In dry-farm districts where the rainfall is higher or better distributed, or where the ground water is near the surface, there should be no reason why dry-farming and live stock should not go hand in hand. Wherever water is within reach, the homestead is also possible. The recent development of the gasoline motor for pumping purposes makes possible a small home garden wherever a little water is available. The lack of water for culinary purposes is really the problem that has stood between the joint development of dry-farming and the live stock industry. The whole matter, however, looks much more favorable to-day, for the efforts of the Federal and state governments have succeeded in discovering numerous subterranean sources of water in dry-farm districts. In addition, the development of small irrigation systems in the neighborhood of dry-farm districts is helping the cause of the live stock industry. At the present time, dry-farming and the live stock industry are rather far apart, though undoubtedly as the desert is conquered they will become more closely associated. The question concerning the best maintenance of soil-fertility remains the same; and the ideal way of maintaining fertility is to return to the soil as much as is possible of the plant-food taken from it by the crops, which can best be accomplished by the development of the business of keeping live stock in connection with dry-farming.

If live stock cannot be kept on a dry-farm, the most direct method of maintaining soil-fertility is by the application of commercial fertilizers. This practice is followed extensively in the Eastern states and in Europe. The large areas of dry-farms and the high prices of commercial fertilizers will make this method of manuring impracticable on dry-farms, and it may be dismissed from thought until such a day as conditions, especially with respect to price of nitrates and potash, are materially changed.

Nitrogen, which is the most important plant-food that may be absent from dry-farm soils, may be secured by the proper use of leguminous crops. All the pod-bearing plants commonly cultivated, such as peas, beans, vetch, clover, and lucern, are able to secure large quantities of nitrogen from the air through the activity of bacteria that live and grow on the roots of such plants. The leguminous crop should be sown in the usual way, and when it is well past the flowering stage should be plowed into the ground. Naturally, annual legumes, such as peas and beans, should be used for this purpose. The crop thus plowed under contains much nitrogen, which is gradually changed into a form suitable for plant assimilation. In addition, the acid substances produced in the decay of the plants tend to liberate the insoluble plant-foods and the organic matter is finally changed into humus. In order to maintain a proper supply of nitrogen in the soil the dry-farmer will probably soon find himself obliged to grow, every five years or oftener, a crop of legumes to be plowed under.

Non-leguminous crops may also be plowed under for the purpose of adding organic matter and humus to the soil, though this has little advantage over the present method of heading the grain and plowing under the high stubble. The header system should be generally adopted on wheat dry-farms. On farms where corn is the chief crop, perhaps more importance needs to be given to the supply of organic matter and humus than on wheat farms. The occasional plowing under of leguminous crops would he the most satisfactory method. The persistent application of the proper cultural methods of dry-farming will set free the most important plant-foods, and on well-cultivated farms nitrogen is the only element likely to be absent in serious amounts.

The rotation of crops on dry-farms is usually advocated in districts like the Great Plains area, where the annual rainfall is over fifteen inches and the major part of the precipitation comes in spring and summer. The various rotations ordinarily include one or more crops of small grains, a hoed crop like corn or potatoes, a leguminous crop, and sometimes a fallow year. The leguminous crop is grown to secure a fresh supply of nitrogen; the hoed crop, to enable the air and sunshine to act thoroughly on the soil grains and to liberate plant-food, such as potash and phosphoric acid; and the grain crops to take up plant-food not reached by the root systems of the other plants. The subject of proper rotation of crops has always been a difficult one, and very little information exists on it as practiced on dry-farms. Chilcott has done considerable work on rotations in the Great Plains district, hut he frankly admits that many years of trial will he necessary for the elucidation of trustworthy principles. Some of the best rotations found by Chilcott up to the present are:—


Rosen states that rotation is very commonly practiced in the dry sections of southern Russia, usually including an occasional Summer fallow. As a type of an eight-year rotation practiced at the Poltava Station, the following is given: (1) Summer tilled and manured; (2) winter wheat; (3) hoed crop; (4) spring wheat; (5) summer fallow; (6) winter rye; (7) buckwheat or an annual legume; (8) oats. This rotation, it may be observed, includes the grain crop, hoed crop, legume, and fallow every four years.

As has been stated elsewhere, any rotation in dry-farming which does not include the summer fallow at least every third or fourth year is likely to be dangerous In years of deficient rainfall.

This review of the question of dry-farm fertility is intended merely as a forecast of coming developments. At the present time soil-fertility is not giving the dry-farmers great concern, but as in the countries of abundant rainfall the time will come when it will be equal to that of water conservation, unless indeed the dry-farmers heed the lessons of the past and adopt from the start proper practices for the maintenance of the plant-food stored in the soil. The principle explained in Chapter IX, that the amount of water required for the production of one pound of water diminishes as the fertility increases, shows the intimate relationship that exists between the soil-fertility and the soil-water and the importance of maintaining dry-farm soils at a high state of fertility.


Cheap land and relatively small acre yields characterize dry-farming. Consequently Iarger areas must be farmed for a given return than in humid farming, and the successful pursuit of dry-farming compels the adoption of methods that enable a man to do the largest amount of effective work with the smallest expenditure of energy. The careful observations made by Grace, in Utah, lead to the belief that, under the conditions prevailing in the intermountain country, one man with four horses and a sufficient supply of machinery can farm 160 acres, half of which is summer-fallowed every year; and one man may, in favorable seasons under a carefully planned system, farm as much as 200 acres. If one man attempts to handle a larger farm, the work is likely to be done in so slipshod a manner that the crop yield decreases and the total returns are no larger than if 200 acres had been well tilled.

One man with four horses would be unable to handle even 160 acres were it not for the possession of modern machinery; and dry-farming, more than any other system of agriculture, is dependent for its success upon the use of proper implements of tillage. In fact, it is very doubtful if the reclamation of the great arid and semiarid regions of the world would have been possible a few decades ago, before the invention and introduction of labor-saving farm machinery. It is undoubtedly further a fact that the future of dry-farming is closely bound up with the improvements that may be made in farm machinery. Few of the agricultural implements on the market to-day have been made primarily for dry-farm conditions. The best that the dry-farmer can do is to adapt the implements on the market to his special needs. Possibly the best field of investigation for the experiment stations and inventive minds in the arid region is farm mechanics as applied to the special needs of dry-farming.

Clearing and breaking

A large portion of the dry-farm territory of the United States is covered with sagebrush and related plants. It is always a difficult and usually an expensive problem to clear sagebrush land, for the shrubs are frequently from two to six feet high, correspondingly deep-rooted, with very tough wood. When the soil is dry, it is extremely difficult to pull out sagebrush, and of necessity much of the clearing must be done during the dry season. Numerous devices have been suggested and tried for the purpose of clearing sagebrush land. One of the oldest and also one of the most effective devices is two parallel railroad rails connected with heavy iron chains and used as a drag over the sagebrush land. The sage is caught by the two rails and torn out of the ground. The clearing is fairly complete, though it is generally necessary to go over the ground two or three times before the work is completed. Even after such treatment a large number of sagebrush clumps, found standing over the field, must be grubbed up with the hoe. Another and effective device is the so-called “mankiller.” This implement pulls up the sage very successfully and drops it at certain definite intervals. It is, however, a very dangerous implement and frequently results in injury to the men who work it. Of recent years another device has been tried with a great deal of success. It is made like a snow plow of heavy railroad irons to which a number of large steel knives have been bolted. Neither of these implements is wholly satisfactory, and an acceptable machine for grubbing sagebrush is yet to be devised. In view of the large expense attached to the clearing of sagebrush land such a machine would be of great help in the advancement of dry-farming.

Away from the sagebrush country the virgin dry-farm land is usually covered with a more or less dense growth of grass, though true sod is seldom found under dry-farm conditions. The ordinary breaking plow, characterized by a long sloping moldboard, is the best known implement for breaking all kinds of sod. (See Fig. 7a a.) Where the sod is very light, as on the far western prairies, the more ordinary forms of plows may be used. In still other sections, the dry-farm land is covered with a scattered growth of trees, frequently pinion pine and cedars, and in Arizona and New Mexico the mesquite tree and cacti are to be removed. Such clearing has to be done in accordance with the special needs of the locality.


Plowing, or the turning over of the soil to a depth of from seven to ten inches for every crop, is a fundamental operation of dry-farming. The plow, therefore, becomes one of the most important implements on the dry-farm. Though the plow as an agricultural implement is of great antiquity, it is only within the last one hundred years that it has attained its present perfection. It is a question even to-day, in the minds of a great many students, whether the modern plow should not be replaced by some machine even more suitable for the proper turning and stirring of the soil. The moldboard plow is, everything considered, the most satisfactory plow for dry-farm purposes. A plow with a moldboard possessing a short abrupt curvature is generally held to be the most valuable for dry-farm purposes, since it pulverizes the soil most thoroughly, and in dry-farming it is not so important to turn the soil over as to crumble and loosen it thoroughly. Naturally, since the areas of dry-farms are very large, the sulky or riding plow is the only kind to be used. The same may be said of all other dry-farm implements. As far as possible, they should be of the riding kind since in the end it means economy from the resulting saving of energy.

The disk plow has recently come into prominent use throughout the land. It consists, as is well known, of one or more large disks which are believed to cause a smaller draft, as they cut into the ground, than the draft due to the sliding friction upon the moldboard. Davidson and Chase say, however, that the draft of a disk plow is often heavier in proportion to the work done and the plow itself is more clumsy than the moldboard plow. For ordinary dry-farm purposes the disk plow has no advantage over the modern moldboard plow. Many of the dry-farm soils are of a heavy clay and become very sticky during certain seasons of the year. In such soils the disk plow is very useful. It is also true that dry-farm soils, subjected to the intense heat of the western sun become very hard. In the handling of such soils the disk plow has been found to be most useful. The common experience of dry-farmers is that when sagebrush lands have been the first plowing can be most successfully done with the disk plow, but that after. the first crop has been harvested, the stubble land can be best handled with the moldboard plow. All this, however, is yet to be subjected to further tests.

While subsoiling results in a better storage reservoir for water and consequently makes dry-farming more secure, yet the high cost of the practice will probably never make it popular. Subsoiling is accomplished in two ways: either by an ordinary moldboard plow which follows the plow in the plow furrow and thus turns the soil to a greater depth, or by some form of the ordinary subsoil plow. In general, the subsoil plow is simply a vertical piece of cutting iron, down to a depth of ten to eighteen inches, at the bottom of which is fastened a triangular piece of iron like a shovel, which, when pulled through the ground, tends to loosen the soil to the full depth of the plow.

The subsoil plow does not turn the soil; it simply loosens the soil so that the air and plant roots can penetrate to greater depths.

In the choice of plows and their proper use the dryfarmer must be guided wholly by the conditions under which he is working. It is impossible at the present time to lay down definite laws stating what plows are best for certain soils. The soils of the arid region are not well enough known, nor has the relationship between the plow and the soil been sufficiently well established. As above remarked, here is one of the great fields for investigation for both scientific and practical men for years to come.

Making and maintaining a soil-mulch

After the land has been so well plowed that the rains can enter easily, the next operation of importance in dry-farming is the making and maintaining of a soil-mulch over the ground to prevent the evaporation of water from the soil. For this purpose some form of harrow is most commonly used. The oldest and best-known harrow is the ordinary smoothing harrow, which is composed of iron or steel teeth of various shapes set in a suitable frame. (See Fig. 79.) For dry-farm purposes the implement must be so made as to enable the farmer to set the harrow teeth to slant backward or forward. It frequently happens that in the spring the grain is too thick for the moisture in the soil, and it then becomes necessary to tear out some of the young plants. For this purpose the harrow teeth are set straight or forward and the crop can then be thinned effectively. At other times it may be observed in the spring that the rains and winds have led to the formation of a crust over the soil, which must be broken to let the plants have full freedom of growth and development. This is accomplished by slanting the harrow teeth backward, and the crust may then be broken without serious injury to the plants. The smoothing harrow is a very useful implement on the dry-farm. For following the plow, however, a more useful implement is the disk harrow, which is a comparatively recent invention. It consists of a series of disks which may be set at various angles with the line of traction and thus be made to turn over the soil while at the same time pulverizing it. The best dry-farm practice is to plow in the fall and let the soil lie in the rough during the winter months. In the spring the land is thoroughly disked and reduced to a fine condition. Following this the smoothing harrow is occasionally used to form a more perfect mulch. When seeding is to be done immediately after plowing, the plow is followed by the disk harrow, and that in turn is followed by the smoothing harrow. The ground is then ready for seeding. The disk harrow is also used extensively throughout the summer in maintaining a proper mulch. It does its work more effectively than the ordinary smoothing harrow and is, therefore, rapidly displacing all other forms of harrows for the purpose of maintaining a layer of loose soil over the dry-farm. There are several kinds of disk harrows used by dry-farmers. The full disk is, everything considered, the most useful. The cutaway harrow is often used in cultivating old alfalfa land; the spade disk harrow has a very limited application in dry-farming; and the orchard disk harrow is simply a modlfication of the full disk harrow whereby the farmer is able to travel between the rows of trees and so to cultivate the soil under the branches of the trees without injuring the leaves or fruit.

One of the great difficulties in dry-farming concerns itself with the prevention of the growth of weeds or volunteer crops. As has been explained in previous chapters, weeds require as much water for their growth as wheat or other useful crops. During the fallow season, the farmer is likely to be overtaken by the weeds and lose much of the value of the fallow by losing soil-moisture through the growth of weeds. Under the most favorable conditions weeds are difficult to handle. The disk harrow itself is not effective. The smoothing harrow is of less value. There is at the present time great need for some implement that will effectively destroy young weeds and prevent their further growth. Attempts are being made to invent such implements, but up to the present without great success. Hogenson reports the finding of an implement on a western dry-farm constructed by the farmer himself which for a number of years has shown itself of high efficiency in keeping the dry-farm free from weeds. Several improved modifications of this implement have been made and tried out on the famous dry-farm district at Nephi, Utah, and with the greatest success. Hunter reports a similar implement in common use on the dry-farms of the Columbia Basin. Spring tooth harrows are also used in a small way on the dry-farms.

They have no special advantage over the smoothing harrow or the disk harrow, except in places where the attempt is made to cultivate the soil between the rows of wheat. The curved knife tooth harrow is scareely ever used on dry-farms. It has some value as a pulverizer, but does not seem to have any real advantage over the ordinary disk harrow.

Cultivators for stirring the land on which crops are growing are not used extensively on dry-farms. Usually the spring tooth harrow is employed for this work. In dry-farm sections, where corn is grown, the cultivator is frequently used throughout the season. Potatoes grown on dry-farms should be cultivated throughout the season, and as the potato industry grows in the dry-farm territory there will be a greater demand for suitable cultivators. The cultivators to be used on dry-farms are all of the riding kind. They should be so arranged that the horse walking between two rows carries a cultivator that straddles several rows of plants and cultivates the soil between. Disks, shovels, or spring teeth may be used on cultivators. There is a great variety on the market, and each farmer will have to choose such as meet most definitely his needs.

The various forms of harrows and cultivators are of the greatest importance in the development of dry-farming. Unless a proper mulch can be kept over the soil during the fallow season, and as far as possible during the growing season, first-class crops cannot be fully respected.

The roller is occasionally used in dry-farming, especially in the uplands of the Columbia Basin. It is a somewhat dangerous implement to use where water conservation is important, since the packing resulting from the roller tends to draw water upward from the lower soil layers to be evaporated into the air. Wherever the roller is used, therefore, it should be followed immediately by a harrow. It is valuable chiefly in the localities where the soil is very loose and light and needs packing around the seeds to permit perfect germination.

Subsurface packing

The subsurface packer invented by Campbell is [shown in Figure 83—not shown—ed.]. The wheels of this machine eighteen inches in diameter, with rims one inch thick at the inner part, beveled two and a half inches to a sharp outer edge, are placed on a shaft, five inches apart. In practice about five hundred pounds of weight are added.

This machine, according to Campbell, crowds a one-inch wedge into every five inches of soil with a lateral and a downward pressure and thus packs firmly the soil near the bottom of the plow-furrow. Subsurface packing aims to establish full capillary connection between the plowed upper soil and the undisturbed lower soil-layer; to bring the moist soil in close contact with the straw or organic litter plowed under and thus to hasten decomposition, and to provide a firm seed bed.

The subsurface packer probably has some value where the plowed soil containing the stubble is somewhat loose; or on soils which do not permit of a rapid decay of stubble and other organic matter that may be plowed under from season to season. On such soils the packing tendency of the subsurface packer may help prevent loss of soil water, and may also assist in furnishing a more uniform medium through which plant roots may force their way. For all these purposes, the disk is usually equally efficient.


It has already been indicated in previous chapters that proper sowing is one of the most important operations of the dry-farm, quite comparable in importance with plowing or the maintaining of a mulch for retaining soil-moisture. The old-fashioned method of broadcasting has absolutely no place on a dry-farm. The success of dry-farming depends entirely upon the control that the farmer has of all the operations of the farm. By broadcasting, neither the quantity of seed used nor the manner of placing the seed in the ground can be regulated. Drill culture, therefore, introduced by Jethro Tull two hundred years ago, which gives the farmer full control over the process of seeding, is the only system to be used. The numerous seed drills on the market all employ the same principles. Their variations are few and simple. In all seed drills the seed is forced into tubes so placed as to enable the seed to fall into the furrows in the ground. The drills themselves are distinguished almost wholly by the type of the furrow opener and the covering devices which are used. The seed furrow is opened either by a small hoe or a so-called shoe or disk. At the present time it appears that the single disk is the coming method of opening the seed furrow and that the other methods will gradually disappear. As the seed is dropped into the furrow thus made it is covered by some device at the rear of the machine. One of the oldest methods as well as one of the most satisfactory is a series of chains dragging behind the drill and covering the furrow quite completely. It is, however, very desirable that the soil should be pressed carefully around the seed so that germination may begin with the least difficulty whenever the temperature conditions are right. Most of the drills of the day are, therefore, provided with large light wheels, one for each furrow, which press lightly upon the soil and force the soil into intimate contact with the seed The weakness of such an arrangement is that the soil along the drill furrows is left somewhat packed, which leads to a ready escape of the soil-moisture. Many of the drills are so arranged that press wheels may be used at the pleasure of the farmer. The seed drill is already a very useful implement and is rapidly being made to meet the special requirements of the dry-farmer. Corn planters are used almost exclusively on dry-farms where corn is the leading crop. In principle they are very much the same as the press drills. Potatoes are also generally planted by machinery. Wherever seeding machinery has been constructed based upon the principles of dry-farming, it is a very advantageous adjunct to the dry-farm.


The immense areas of dry-farms are harvested almost wholly by the most modern machinery. For grain, the harvester is used almost exclusively in the districts where the header cannot be used, but wherever conditions permit, the header is and should be used. It has been explained in previous chapters how valuable the tall header stubble is when plowed under as a means of maintaining the fertility of the soil. Besides, there is an ease in handling the header which is not known with the harvester. There are times when the header leads to some waste as, for instance, when the wheat is very low and heads are missed as the machine passes over the ground. In many sections of the dry-farm territory the climatic conditions are such that the wheat cures perfectly while still standing. In such places the combined harvester and thresher is used. The header cuts off the heads of the grain, which are passed up into the thresher, and bags filled with threshed grain are dropped along the path of the machine, while the straw is scattered over the ground. Wherever such a machine can be used, it has been found to be economical and satisfactory. Of recent years corn stalks have been used to better advantage than in the past, for not far from one half of the feeding value of the corn crop is in the stalks, which up to a few years ago were very largely wasted. Corn harvesters are likewise on the market and are quite generally used. It was manifestly impossible on large places to harvest corn by hand and large corn harvesters have, therefore, been made for this purpose.

Steam and other motive power

Recently numerous persons have suggested that the expense of running a dry-farm could be materially reduced by using some motive power other than horses. Steam, gasoline, and electricity have all been suggested. The steam traction engine is already a fairly well-developed machine and it has been used for plowing purposes on many dry-farms in nearly all the sections of the dry-farm territory. Unfortunately, up to the present it has not shown itself to be very satisfactory. First of all it is to be remembered that the principles of dry-farming require that the topsoil be kept very loose and spongy. The great traction engines have very wide wheels of such tremendous weight that they press down the soil very compactly along their path and in that way defeat one of the important purposes of tillage. Another objection to them is that at present their construction is such as to result in continual breakages. While these breakages in themselves are small and inexpensive, they mean the cessation of all farming operations during the hour or day required for repairs. A large crew of men is thus left more or less idle, to the serious injury of the work and to the great expense of the owner. Undoubtedly, the traction engine has a place in dry-farming, but it has not yet been perfected to such a degree as to make it satisfactory. On heavy soils it is much more useful than on light soils. When the traction engine works satisfactorily, plowing may be done at a cost considerably lower than when horses are employed.

In England, Germany, and other European countries some of the difficulties connected with plowing have been overcome by using two engines on the two opposite sides of a field. These engines move synchronously together and, by means of large cables, plows, harrows, or seeders, are pulled back and forth over the field. This method seems to give good satisfaction on many large estates of the old world. Macdonald reports that such a system is in successful operation in the Transvaal in South Africa and is doing work there at a very knew cost. The large initial cost of such a system will, of course, prohibit its use except on the very large farms that are being established in the dry-farm territory.

Gasoline engines are also being tried out, but up to date they have not shown themselves as possessing superior advantages over the steam engines. The two objections to them are the same as to the steam engine: first, their great weight, which compresses in a dangerous degree the topsoil and, secondly, the frequent breakages, which make the operation slow and expensive.

Over a great part of the West, water power is very abundant and the suggestion has been made that the electric energy which can be developed by means of water power could be used in the cultural operations of the dry-farm. With the development of the trolley car which does not run on rails it would not seem impossible that in favorable localities electricity could be made to serve the farmer in the mechanical tillage of the dry-farm.

The substitution of steam and other energy for horse power is yet in the future. Undoubtedly, it will come, but only as improvements are made in the machines. There is here also a great field for being of high service to the farmers who are attempting to reclaim the great deserts of the world. As stated at the beginning of this chapter, dry-farming would probably have been an impossibilityfifty or a hundred years ago because of the absence of suitable machinery. The future of dry-farming rests almost wholly, so far as its profits are concerned, upon the development of new and more suitable machinery for the tillage of the soil in accordance with the established principles of dry-farming.

Finally, the recommendations made by Merrill may here be inserted. A dry-farmer for best work should be supplied with the following implements in addition to the necessary wagons and hand tools:—

One Plow.
One Disk.
One Smoothing Harrow.
One Drill Seeder.
One Harvester or Header.
One Mowing Machine.


Irrigation-farming and dry-farming are both systems of agriculture devised for the reclamation of countries that ordinarily receive an annual rainfall of twenty inches or less. Irrigation-farming cannot of itself reclaim the arid regions of the world, for the available water supply of arid countries when it shall have been conserved in the best possible way cannot be made to irrigate more than one fifth of the thirsty land. This means that under the highest possible development of irrigation, at least in the United States, there will be five or six acres of unirrigated or dry-farm land for every acre of irrigated land. Irrigation development cannot possibly, therefore, render the dry-farm movement valueless. On the other hand, dry-farming is furthered by the development of irrigation farming, for both these systems of agriculture are characterized by advantages that make irrigation and dry-farming supplementary to each other in the successful development of any arid region.

Under irrigation, smaller areas need to be cultivated for the same crop returns, for it has been amply demonstrated that the acre yields under proper irrigation are very much larger than the best yields under the most careful system of dry-farming. Secondly, a greater variety of crops may be grown on the irrigated farm than on the dry-farm. As has already been shown in this volume, only certain drouth resistant crops can be grown profitably upon dry-farms, and these must be grown under the methods of extensive farming. The longer growing crops, including trees, succulent vegetables, and a variety of small fruits, have not as yet been made to yield profitably under arid conditions without the artificial application of water. Further, the irrigation-farmer is not largely dependent upon the weather and, therefore, carries on this work with a feeling of greater security. Of course, it is true that the dry years affect the flow of water in the canals and that the frequent breaking of dams and canal walls leaves the farmer helpless in the face of the blistering heat. Yet, all in all, a greater feeling of security is possessed by the irrigation farmer than by the dry-farmer.

Most important, however, are the temperamental differences in men which make some desirous of giving themselves to the cultivation of a small area of irrigated land under intensive conditions and others to dry-farming under extensive conditions. In fact, it is being observed in the arid region that men, because of their temperamental differences, are gradually separating into the two classes of irrigation-farmers and dry-farmers. The dry-farms of necessity cover much larger areas than the irrigated farms. The land is cheaper and the crops are smaller. The methods to be applied are those of extensive farming. The profits on the investment also appear to be somewhat larger. The very necessity of pitting intellect against the fierceness of the drouth appears to have attracted many-men to the dry-farms. Gradually the certainty of producing crops on dry-farms from season to season is becoming established, and the essential difference between the two kinds of farming in the arid districts will then he the difference between intensive and extensive methods of culture. Men will be attracted to one or other of these systems of agriculture according to their personal inclinations.

The scarcity of water

For the development of a well-rounded commonwealth in an arid region it is, of course, indispensable that irrigation be practiced, for dry-farming of itself will find it difficult to build up populous cities and to supply the great variety of crops demanded by the modern family. In fact, one of the great problems before those engaged in the development of dry-farming at present is the development of homesteads in the dry-farms. A homestead is possible only where there is a sufficient amount of free water available for household and stock purposes. In the portion of the dry-farm territory where the rainfall approximates twenty inches, this problem is not so very difficult, since ground water may be reached easily. In the drier portions, however, where the rainfall is between ten and fifteen inches, the problem is much more important. The conditions that bring the district under the dry-farm designation imply a scarcity of water. On few dry-farms is water available for the needs of the household and the barns. In the Rocky Mountain states numerous dry-farms have been developed from seven to fifteen miles from the nearest source of water, and the main expense of developing these farms has been the hauling of water to the farms to supply the needs of the men and beasts at work on them. Naturally, it is impossible to establish homesteads on the dry-farms unless at least a small supply of water is available; and dry-farming will never he what it might be unless happy homes can be established upon the farms in the arid regions that grow crops without irrigation. To make a dry-farm homestead possible enough water must be available, first of all, to supply the culinary needs of the household. This of itself is not large and, as will be shown hereafter, may in most cases be obtained. However, in order that the family may possess proper comforts, there should be around the homestead trees, and shrubs, and grasses, and the family garden. To secure these things a certain amount of irrigation water is required. It may be added that dry-farms on which such homesteads are found as a result of the existence of a small supply of irrigation water are much more valuable, in case of sale, than equally good farms without the possibility of maintaining homesteads. Moreover, the distinct value of irrigation in producing a large acre yield makes it desirable for the farmer to use all the water at his disposal for irrigation purposes. No available water should be allowed to flow away unused.

Available surface water

The sources of water for dry-farms fall readily into classes: surface waters and subterranean waters. The surface waters, wherever they may be obtained, are generally the most profitable. The simplest method of obtaining water in an irrigated region is from some irrigation canal. In certain districts of the intermountain region where the dry farms lie above the irrigation canals and the irrigated lands below, it is comparatively easy for the farmers to secure a small but sufficient amount of water from the canal by the use of some pumping device that will force the water through the pipes to the homestead. The dry-farm area that may be so supplied by irrigation canals is, however, very limited and is not to be considered seriously in connection with the problem.

A much more important method, especially in the mountainous districts, is the utilization of the springs that occur in great numbers over the whole dry-farm territory. Sometimes these springs are very small indeed, and often, after development by tunneling into the side of the hill, yield only a trifling flow. Yet, when this water is piped to the homestead and allowed to accumulate in small reservoirs or cisterns, it may be amply sufficient for the needs of the family and the live stock, besides having a surplus for the maintenance of the lawn, the shade trees, and the family garden. Many dry-farmers in the intermountain country have piped water seven or eight miles from small springs that were considered practically worthless and thereby have formed the foundations for small village communities.

Of perhaps equal importance with the utilization of the naturally occurring springs is the proper conservation of the flood waters. As has been stated before, arid conditions allow a very large loss of the natural precipitation as run-off. The numerous gullies that characterize so many parts of the dry-farm territory are evidences of the number and vigor of the flood waters. The construction of small reservoirs in proper places for the purpose of catching the flood waters will usually enable the farmer to supply himself with all the water needed for the homestead. Such reservoirs may already be found in great numbers scattered over the whole western America. As dry-farming increases their numbers will also increase.

When neither canals, nor springs, nor flood waters are available for the supply of water, it is yet possible to obtain a limited supply by so arranging the roof gutters on the farm buildings that all the water that falls on the roofs is conducted through the spouts into carefully protected cisterns or reservoirs. A house thirty by thirty feet, the roof of which is so constructed that all that water that falls upon it is carried into a cistern will yield annually under a a rainfall of fifteen inches a maximum amount of water equivalent to about 8800 gallons. Allowing for the unavoidable waste due to evaporation, this will yield enough to supply a household and some live stock with the necessary water. In extreme cases this has been found to be a very satisfactory practice, though it is the one to be resorted to only in case no other method is available.

It is indispensable that some reservoir be provided to hold the surface water that may be obtained until the time it may be needed. The water coming constantly from a spring in summer should be applied to crops only at certain definite seasons of the year. The flood waters usually come at a time when plant growth is not active and irrigation is not needed.

The rainfall also in many districts comes most largely at seasons of no or little plant growth. Reservoirs must, therefore, be provided for the storing of the water until the periods when it is demanded by crops. Cement-lined cisterns are quite common, and in many places cement reservoirs have been found profitable. In other places the occurrence of impervious clay has made possible the establishment and construction of cheap reservoirs. The skillful and permanent construction of reservoirs is a very important subject. Reservoir building should be undertaken only after a careful study of the prevailing conditions and under the advice of the state or government officials having such work in charge. In general, the first cost of small reservoirs is usually somewhat high, but in view of their permanent service and the value of the water to the dry-farm they pay a very handsome interest on the investment. It is always a mistake for the dry-farmer to postpone the construction of a reservoir for the storing of the small quantities of water that he may possess, in order to save a little money. Perhaps the greatest objection to the use of the reservoirs is not their relatively high cost, but the fact that since they are usually small and the water shallow, too large a proportion of the water, even under favorable conditions, is lost by evaporation. It is ordinarily assumed that one half of the water stored in small reservoirs throughout the year is lost by direct evaporation.

Available subterranean water

Where surface waters are not readily available, the subterranean water is of first importance. It is generally known that, underlying the earth’s surface at various depths, there is a large quantity of free water. Those living in humid climates often overestimate the amount of water so held in the earth’s crust, and it is probably true that those living in arid regions underestimate the quantity of water so found. The fact of the matter seems to be that free water is found everywhere under the earth’s surface. Those familiar with the arid West have frequently been surprised by the frequency with which water has been found at comparatively shallow depths in the most desert locations. Various estimates have been made as to the quantity of underlying water. The latest calculation and perhaps the most reliable is that made by Fuller, who, after a careful analysis of the factors involved, concludes that the total free water held in the earth’s crust is equivalent to a uniform sheet of water over the entire surface of the earth ninety-six feet in depth. A quantity of water thus held would be equivalent to about one hundredth part of the whole volume of the ocean. Even though the thickness of the water sheet under arid soils is only half this figure there is an amount, if it could be reached, that would make possible the establishment of homesteads over the whole dry-farm territory. One of the main efforts of the day is the determination of the occurrence of the subterranean waters in the dry-farm territory.

Ordinary dug wells frequently reach water at comparatively shallow depths. Over the cultivated Utah deserts water is often found at a depth of twenty-five or thirty feet, though many wells dug to a depth of one hundred and seventy-five and two hundred feet have failed to reach water. It may be remarked in this connection that even where the distance to the water is small, the piped well has been found to be superior to the dug well. Usually, water is obtained in the dry-farm territory by driving pipes to comparatively great depths, ranging from one hundred feet to over one thousand feet. At such depths water is nearly always found. Often the geological conditions are such as to force the water up above the surface as artesian wells, though more often the pressure is simply sufficient to bring the water within easy pumping distance of the surface. In connection with this subject it must be said that many of the subterranean waters of the dry-farm territory are of a saline character. The amount of substances held in solution varies largely, but frequently is far above the limits of safety for the use of man or beast or plants. The dry-farmer who secures a well of this type should, therefore, be careful to have a proper examination made of the constituents of the water before ordinary use is made of it.

Now, as has been said, the utilization of the subterranean waters of the land is one of the living problems of dry-farming. The tracing out of this layer of water is very difficult to accomplish and cannot be done by individuals. It is a work that properly belongs to the state and national government. The state of Utah, which was the pioneer in appropriating money for dry-farm experiments, also led the way in appropriating money for the securing of water for the dry-farms from subterranean sources. The world has been progressing in Utah since 1905, and water has been secured in the most unpromising localities. The most remarkable instance is perhaps the finding of water at a depth of about five hundred and fifty feet in the unusually dry Dog Valley located some fifteen miles west of Nephi.

Pumping water

The use of small quantities of water on the dry-farms carries with it, in most cases, the use of small pumping plants to store and to distribute the water properly. Especially, whenever subterranean sources of water are used and the water pressure is not sufficient to throw the water above the ground, pumping must be resorted to. The pumping of water for agricultural purposes is not at all new. According to Fortier, two hundred thousand acres of land are irrigated with water pumped from driven wells in the state of California alone. Seven hundred and fifty thousand acres are irrigated by pumping in the United States, and Mead states that there are thirteen million acres of land in India which are irrigated by water pumped from subterranean sources. The dry-farmer has a choice among several sources of power for the operation of his pumping plant. In localities where winds are frequent and of sufficient strength windmills furnish cheap and effective power, especially where the lift is not very great. The gasoline engine is in a state of considerable perfection and may be used economically where the price of gasoline is reasonable. Engines using crude oil may be most desirable in the localities where oil wells have been found. As the manufacture of alcohol from the waste products of the farms becomes established, the alcohol-burning engine could become a very important one. Over nearly the whole of the dry-farm territory coal is found in large quantities, and the steam engine fed by coal is an important factor in the pumping of water for irrigation purposes. Further, in the mountainous part of the dry-farm territory water Power is very abundant. Only the smallest fraction of it has as yet been harnessed for the generation of the electric current. As electric generation increases, it should be comparatively easy for the farmer to secure sufficient electric power to run the pump. This has already become an established practice in districts where electric power is available.

During the last few years considerable work has been done to determine the feasibility of raising water for irrigation by pumping. Fortier reports that successful results have been obtained in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. He declares that a good type of windmill located in a district where the average wind movement is ten miles per hour can lift enough water twenty feet to irrigate five acres of land. Wherever the water is near the surface this should be easy of accomplishment. Vernon, Lovett, and Scott, who worked under New Mexico conditions, have reported that crops can be produced profitably by the use of water raised to the surface for irrigation. Fleming and Stoneking, who conducted very careful experiments on the subject in New Mexico, found that the cost of raising through one foot a quantity of water corresponding to a depth of one foot over one acre of land varied from a cent and an eighth to nearly twenty-nine cents, with an average of a little more than ten cents. This means that the cost of raising enough water to cover one acre to a depth of one foot through a distance of forty feet would average $4.36. This includes not only the cost of the fuel and supervision of the pump but the actual deterioration of the plant. Smith investigated the same problem under Arizona conditions and found that it cost approximately seventeen cents to raise one acre foot of water to a height of one foot. A very elaborate investigation of this nature was conducted in California by Le Conte and Tait. They studied a large number of pumping plants in actual operation under California conditions, and determined that the total cost of raising one acre foot of water one foot was, for gasoline power, four cents and upward; for electric power, seven to sixteen cents, and for steam, four cents and upward. Mead has reported observations on seventy-two windmills near Garden City, Kansas, which irrigated from one fourth to seven acres each at a cost of seventy-five cents to $6 per acre. All in all, these results justify the belief that water may be raised profitably by pumping for the purpose of irrigating crops. When the very great value of a little water on a dry-farm is considered, the figures here given do not seem at all excessive. It must be remarked again that a reservoir of some sort is practically indispensable in connection with a pumping plant if the irrigation water is to be used in the best way.

The use of small quantities of water in irrigation

Now, it is undoubtedly true that the acre cost of water on dry-farms, where pumping plants or similar devices must be used with expensive reservoirs, is much higher than when water is obtained from gravity canals. It is, therefore, important that the costly water so obtained be used in the most economical manner. This is doubly important in view of the fact that the water supply obtained on dry-farms is always small and insufficient for all that the farmer would like to do. Indeed, the profit in storing and pumping water rests largely upon the economical application of water to crops. This necessitates the statement of one of the first principles of scientific irrigation practices, namely, that the yield of a crop under irrigation is not proportional to the amount of water applied in the form of irrigation water. In other words, the water stored in the soil by the natural precipitation and the water that falls during the spring and summer can either mature a small crop or bring a crop near maturity. A small amount of water added in the form of irrigation water at the right time will usually complete the work and produce a well-matured crop of large yield. Irrigation should only be supplemented to the natural precipitation. As more irrigation water is added, the increase in yield becomes smaller in proportion to the amount of water employed. This is clearly shown by the following table, which is taken from some of the irrigation experiments carried on at the Utah Station:—

Effect of Varying Irrigations on Crop Yields Per Acre

Depth of Water Wheat Corn Alfalfa Potatoes Sugar Beets Applied (Inches) (Bushels) (Bushels) (Pounds) (Bushels) (Tons) 5.0 40 194 25 7.5 41 65 10.0 41 80 213 26 15.0 46 78 253 27 25.0 49 77 10,056 258 35.0 55 9,142 291 26 50 60 84 13,061

The soil was a typical arid soil of great depth and had been so cultivated as to contain a large quantity of the natural precipitation. The first five inches of water added to the precipitation already stored in the soil produced forty bushels of wheat. Doubling this amount of irrigation water produced only forty-one bushels of wheat. Even with an irrigation of fifty inches, or ten times that which produced forty bushels, only sixty bushels of wheat, or an increase of one half, were produced. A similar variation may be observed in the case of the other crops. The first lesson to be drawn from this important principle of irrigation is that if the soil be so treated as to contain at planting time the largest proportion of the natural precipitation,—that is, if the ordinary methods of dry-farming be employed,—crops will be produced with a very small amount of irrigation water. Secondly, it follows that it would be a great deal better for the farmer who raises wheat, for instance, to cover ten acres of land with water to a depth of five inches than to cover one acre to a depth of fifty inches, for in the former case four hundred bushels and in the second sixty bushels of wheat would be produced. The farmer who desires to utilize in the most economical manner the small amount of water at his disposal must prepare the land according to dry-farm methods and then must spread the water at his disposal over a larger area of land. The land must be plowed in the fall if the conditions permit, and fallowing should be practiced wherever possible. If the farmer does not wish to fallow his family garden he can achieve equally good results by planting the rows twice as far apart as is ordinarily the case and by bringing the irrigation furrows near the rows of plants. Then, to make the best use of the water, he must carefully cover the irrigation furrow with dry dirt immediately after the water has been applied and keep the whole surface well stirred so that evaporation will be reduced to a minimum. The beginning of irrigation wisdom is always the storage of the natural precipitation. When that is done correctly, it is really remarkable how far a small amount of irrigation water may be made to go.

Under conditions of water scarcity it is often found profitable to carry water to the garden in cement or iron pipes so that no water may be lost by seepage or evaporation during the conveyance of the water from the reservoir to the garden. It is also often desirable to convey water to plants through pipes laid under the ground, perforated at various intervals to allow the water to escape and soak into the soil in the neighborhood of the plant roots. All such refined methods of irrigation should be carefully investigated by the who wants the largest results from his limited water supply. Though such methods may seem cumbersome and expensive at first, yet they will be found, if properly arranged, to be almost automatic in their operation and also very profitable.

Forbes has reported a most interesting experiment dealing with the economical use of a small water supply under the long season and intense water dissipating conditions of Arizona. The source of supply was a well, 90 feet deep. A 3 by 14-inch pump cylinder operated by a 12-foot geared windmill lifted the water into a 5000-gallon storage reservoir standing on a support 18 feet high. The water was conveyed from this reservoir through black iron pipes buried 1 or 2 feet from the trees to be watered. Small holes in the pipe 332 inch in diameter allowed the water to escape at desirable intervals. This irrigation plant was under expert observation for considerable time, and it was found to furnish sufficient water for domestic use for one household, and irrigated in addition 61 olive trees, 2 cottonwoods, 8 pepper trees, 1 date palm, 19 pomegranates, 4 grapevines, 1 fig tree, 9 eucalyptus trees, 1 ash, and 13 miscellancous, making a total of 87 useful trees, mainly fruit-bearing, and 32 vines and bushes. (See Fig. 95.) If such a result can be obtained with a windmill and with water ninety feet below the surface under the arid conditions of Arizona, there should be little difficulty in securing sufficient water over the larger portions of the dry-farm territory to make possible beautiful homesteads.

The dry-farmer should carefully avoid the temptation to decry irrigation practices. Irrigation and dry-farming of necessity must go hand in hand in the development of the great arid regions of the world. Neither can well stand alone in the building of great commonwealths on the deserts of the earth.


The great nations of antiquity lived and prospered in arid and semiarid countries. In the more or less rainless regions of China, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Egypt, Mexico, and Peru, the greatest cities and the mightiest peoples flourished in ancient days. Of the great civilizations of history only that of Europe has rooted in a humid climate. As Hilgard has suggested, history teaches that a high civilization goes hand in hand with a soil that thirsts for water. To-day, current events point to the arid and semiarid regions as the chief dependence of our modern civilization.

In view of these facts it may be inferred that dry-farming is an ancient practice. It is improbable that intelligent men and women could live in Mesopotamia, for example, for thousands of years without discovering methods whereby the fertile soils could be made to produce crops in a small degree at least without irrigation. True, the low development of implements for soil culture makes it fairly certain that dry-farming in those days was practiced only with infinite labor and patience; and that the great ancient nations found it much easier to construct great irrigation systems which would make crops certain with a minimum of soil tillage, than so thoroughly to till the soil with imperfect implements as to produce certain yields without irrigation. Thus is explained the fact that the historians of antiquity speak at length of the wonderful irrigation systems, but refer to other forms of agriculture in a most casual manner. While the absence of agricultural machinery makes it very doubtful whether dry-farming was practiced extensively in olden days, yet there can be little doubt of the high antiquity of the practice.

Kearney quotes Tunis as an example of the possible extent of dry-farming in early historical days. Tunis is under an average rainfall of about nine inches, and there are no evidences of irrigation having been practiced there, yet at El Djem are the ruins of an amphitheater large enough to accommodate sixty thousand persons, and in an area of one hundred square miles there were fifteen towns and forty-five villages. The country, therefore, must have been densely populated. In the seventh century, according to the Roman records, there were two million five hundred thousand acres of olive trees growing in Tunis and cultivated without irrigation. That these stupendous groves yielded well is indicated by the statement that, under the Caesar’s Tunis was taxed three hundred thousand gallons of olive oil annually. The production of oil was so great that from one town it was piped to the nearest shipping port. This historical fact is borne out by the present revival of olive culture in Tunis, mentioned in Chapter XII.

Moreover, many of the primitive peoples of to-day, the Chinese, Hindus, Mexicans, and the American Indians, are cultivating large areas of land by dry-farm methods, often highly perfected, which have been developed generations ago, and have been handed down to the present day. Martin relates that the Tarahumari Indians of northern Chihuahua, who are among the most thriving aboriginal tribes of northern Mexico, till the soil by dry-farm methods and succeed in raising annually large quantities of corn and other crops. A crop failure among them is very uncommon. The early American explorers, especially the Catholic fathers, found occasional tribes in various parts of America cultivating the soil successfully without irrigation. All this points to the high antiquity of agriculture without irrigation in arid and semiarid countries.

Modern dry-farming in the United States

The honor of having originated modern dry-farming belongs to the people of Utah. On July 24th, 1847, Brigham Young with his band of pioneers entered Great Salt Lake Valley, and on that day ground was plowed, potatoes planted, and a tiny stream of water led from City Creek to cover this first farm. The early endeavors of the Utah pioneers were devoted almost wholly to the construction of irrigation systems. The parched desert ground appeared so different from the moist soils of Illinois and Iowa, which the pioneers had cultivated, as to make it seem impossible to produce crops without irrigation. Still, as time wore on, inquiring minds considered the possibility of growing crops without irrigation; and occasionally when a farmer was deprived of his supply of irrigation water through the breaking of a canal or reservoir it was noticed by the community that in spite of the intense heat the plants grew and produced small yields.

Gradually the conviction grew upon the Utah pioneers that farming without irrigation was not an impossibility; but the small population were kept so busy with their small irrigated farms that no serious attempts at dry-farming were made during the first seven or eight years. The publications of those days indicate that dry-farming must have been practiced occasionally as early as 1854 or 1855.

About 1863 the first dry-farm experiment of any consequence occurred in Utah. A number of emigrants of Scandinavian descent had settled in what is now known as Bear River City, and had turned upon their farms the alkali water of Malad Creek, and naturally the crops failed. In desperation the starving settlers plowed up the sagebrush land, planted grain, and awaited results. To their surprise, fair yields of grain were obtained, and since that day dry-farming has been an established practice in that portion of the Great Salt Lake Valley. A year or two later, Christopher Layton, a pioneer who helped to build both Utah and Arizona, plowed up land on the famous Sand Ridge between Salt Lake City and Ogden and demonstrated that dry-farm wheat could be grown successfully on the deep sandy soil which the pioneers had held to be worthless for agricultural purposes. Since that day the Sand Ridge has been famous as a dry-farm district, and Major J. W. Powell, who saw the ripened fields of grain in the hot dry sand, was moved upon to make special mention of them in his volume on the “Arid Lands of Utah,” published in 1879.

About this time, perhaps a year or two later, Joshua Salisbury and George L. Farrell began dry-farm experiments in the famous Cache Valley, one hundred miles north of Salt Lake City. After some years of experimentation, with numerous failures these and other pioneers established the practice of dry-farming in Cache Valley, which at present is one of the most famous dry-farm sections in the United States. In Tooele County, Just south of Salt Lake City, dry-farming was practiced in 1877—how much earlier is not known. In the northern Utah counties dry-farming assumed proportions of consequence only in the later ’70′s and early ’80′s. During the ’80′s it became a thoroughly established and extensive business practice in the northern part of the state.

California, which was settled soon after Utah, began dry-farm experiments a little later than Utah. The available information indicates that the first farming without irrigation in California began in the districts of somewhat high precipitation. As the population increased, the practice was pushed away from the mountains towards the regions of more limited rainfall. According to Hilgard, successful dry-farming on an extensive scale has been practiced in California since about 1868. Olin reports that moisture-saving methods were used on the Californian farms as early as 1861. Certainly, California was a close second in originating dry-farming.

The Columbia Basin was settled by Mareus Whitman near Walla Walla in 1836, but farming did not gain much headway until the railroad pushed through the great Northwest about 1880. Those familiar with the history of the state of Washington declare that dry-farming was in successful operation in isolated districts in the late ’70′s. By 1890 it was a well-established practice, but received a serious setback by the financial panic of 1892-1893. Really successful and extensive dry-farming in the Columbia Basin began about 1897. The practice of summer fallow had begun a year or two before. It is interesting to note that both in California and Washington there are districts in which dry-farming has been practiced successfully under a precipitation of about ten inches whereas in Utah the limit has been more nearly twelve inches.

In the Great Plains area the history of dry-farming Is hopelessly lost in the greater history of the development of the eastern and more humid parts of that section of the country. The great influx of settlers on the western slope of the Great Plains area occurred in the early ’80′s and overflowed into eastern Colorado and Wyoming a few years later. The settlers of this region brought with them the methods of humid agriculture and because of the relatively high precipitation were not forced into the careful methods of moisture conservation that had been forced upon Utah, California, and the Columbia Basin. Consequently, more failures in dry-farming are reported from those early days in the Great Plains area than from the drier sections of the far West Dry-farming was practiced very successfully in the Great Plains area during the later ’80′s. According to Payne, the crops of 1889 were very good; in 1890, less so; in 1891, better; in 1892 such immense crops were raised that the settlers spoke of the section as God’s country; in 1893, there was a partial failure, and in 1894 the famous complete failure, which was followed in 1895 by a partial failure. Since that time fair crops have been produced annually. The dry years of 1893-1895 drove most of the discouraged settlers back to humid sections and delayed, by many years, the settlement and development of the western side of the Great Plains area. That these failures and discouragements were due almost entirely to improper methods of soil culture is very evident to the present day student of dry-farming. In fact, from the very heart of the section which was abandoned in 1893-1895 come reliable records, dating back to 1886, which show successful crop production every year. The famous Indian Head experimental farm of Saskatchewan, at the north end of the Great Plains area, has an unbroken record of good crop yields from 1888, and the early ’90′s were quite as dry there as farther south. However, in spite of the vicissitudes of the section, dry-farming has taken a firm hold upon the Great Plains area and is now a well-established practice.

The curious thing about the development of dry-farming in Utah, California, Washington, and the Great Plains is that these four sections appear to have originated dry-farming independently of each other. True, there was considerable communication from 1849 onward between Utah and California, and there is a possibility that some of the many Utah settlers who located in California brought with them accounts of the methods of dry-farming as practiced in Utah. This, however, cannot be authenticated. It is very unlikely that the farmers of Washington learned dry-farming from their California or Utah neighbors, for until 1880 communication between Washington and the colonies in California and Utah was very difficult, though, of course, there was always the possibility of accounts of agricultural methods being carried from place to place by the moving emigrants. It is fairly certain that the Great Plains area did not draw upon the far West for dry-farm methods. The climatic conditions are considerably different and the Great Plains people always considered themselves as living in a very humid country as compared with the states of the far West. It may be concluded, therefore, that there were four independent pioneers in dry-farming in United States. Moreover, hundreds, probably thousands, of individual farmers over the semiarid region have practiced dry-farming thirty to fifty years with methods by themselves.

Although these different dry-farm sections were developed independently, yet the methods which they have finally adopted are practically identical and include deep plowing, unless the subsoil is very lifeless; fall plowing; the planting of fall grain wherever fall plowing is possible; and clean summer fallowing. About 1895 the word began to pass from mouth to mouth that probably nearly all the lands in the great arid and semiarid sections of the United States could be made to produce profitable crops without irrigation. At first it was merely a whisper; then it was talked aloud, and before long became the great topic of conversation among the thousands who love the West and wish for its development. Soon it became a National subject of discussion. Immediately after the close of the nineteenth century the new awakening had been accomplished and dry-farming was moving onward to conquer the waste places of the earth.

H. W. Campbell

The history of the new awakening in dry-farming cannot well be written without a brief account of the work of H. W. Campbell who, in the public mind, has become intimately identified with the dry-farm movement. H. W. Campbell came from Vermont to northern South Dakota in 1879, where in 1882 he harvested a banner crop,—twelve thousand bushels of wheat from three hundred acres. In 1883, on the same farm he failed completely. This experience led him to a study of the conditions under which wheat and other crops may be produced in the Great Plains area. A natural love for investigation and a dogged persistence have led him to give his life to a study of the agricultural problems of the Great Plains area. He admits that his direct inspiration came from the work of Jethro Tull, who labored two hundred years ago, and his disciples. He conceived early the idea that if the soil were packed near the bottom of the plow furrow, the moisture would be retained better and greater crop certainty would result. For this purpose the first subsurface packer was invented in 1885. Later, about 1895, when his ideas had crystallized into theories, he appeared as the publisher of Campbell’s “Soil Culture and Farm Journal.” One page of each issue was devoted to a succinct statement of the “Campbell Method.” It was in 1898 that the doctrine of summer tillage was begun to be investigated by him.

In view of the crop failures of the early ’90′s and the gradual dry-farm awakening of the later ’90′s, Campbell’s work was received with much interest. He soon became identified with the efforts of the railroads to maintain demonstration farms for the benefit of intending settlers. While Campbell has long been in the service of the railroads of the semiarid region, yet it should be said in all fairness that the railroads and Mr. Campbell have had for their primary object the determination of methods whereby the farmers could be made sure of successful crops.

Mr. Campbell’s doctrines of soil culture, based on his accumulated experience, are presented in Campbell’s “Soil Culture Manual,” the first edition of which appeared about 1904 and the latest edition, considerably extended, was published in 1907. The 1907 manual is the latest official word by Mr. Campbell on the principles and methods of the “Campbell system.” The essential features of the system may be summarized as follows: The storage of water in the soil is imperative for the production of crops in dry years. This may be accomplished by proper tillage. Disk the land immediately after harvest; follow as soon as possible with the plow; follow the plow with the subsurface packer; and follow the packer with the smoothing harrow. Disk the land again as early as possible in the spring and stir the soil deeply and carefully after every rain. Sow thinly in the fall with a drill. If the grain is too thick in the spring, harrow it out. To make sure of a crop, the land should be “summer tilled,” which means that clean summer fallow should be practiced every other year, or as often as may be necessary.

These methods, with the exception of the subsurface packing, are sound and in harmony with the experience of the great dry-farm sections and with the principles that are being developed by scientific investigation. The “Campbell system” as it stands to-day is not the system first advocated by him. For instance, in the beginning of his work he advocated sowing grain in April and in rows so far apart that spring tooth harrows could be used for cultivating between the rows. This method, though successful in conserving moisture, is too expensive and is therefore superseded by the present methods. Moreover, his farm paper of 1896, containing a full statement of the “Campbell method,” makes absolutely no mention of “summer tillage,” which is now the very keystone of the system. These and other facts make it evident that Mr. Campbell has very properly modified his methods to harmonize with the best experience, but also invalidate the claim that he is the author of the dry-farm system. A weakness of the “Campbell system” is the continual insistence upon the use of the subsurface packer. As has already been shown, subsurface packing is of questionable value for successful crop production, and if valuable, the results may be much more easily and successfully obtained by the use of the disk and harrow and other similar implements now on the market. Perhaps the one great weakness in the work of Campbell is that he has not explained the principles underlying his practices. His publications only hint at the reasons. H. W. Campbell, however, has done much to popularize the subject of dry-farming and to prepare the way for others. His persistence in his work of gathering facts, writing, and speaking has done much to awaken interest in dry-farming. He has been as “a voice in the wilderness” who has done much to make possible the later and more systematic study of dry-farming. High honor should be shown him for his faith in the semiarid region, for his keen observation, and his persistence in the face of difficulties. He is justly entitled to be ranked as one of the great workers in behalf of the reclamation, without irrigation, of the rainless sections of the world.

The experiment stations

The brave pioneers who fought the relentless dryness of the Great American Desert from the memorable entrance of the Mormon pioneers into the valley of the Great Salt Lake in 1847 were not the only ones engaged in preparing the way for the present day of great agricultural endeavor. Other, though perhaps more indirect, forces were also at work for the future development of the semiarid section. The Morrill Bill of 1862, making it possible for agricultural colleges to be created in the various states and territories, indicated the beginning of a public feeling that modern methods should be applied to the work of the farm. The passage in 1887 of the Hatch Act, creating agricultural experiment stations in all of the states and territories, finally initiated a new agricultural era in the United States. With the passage of this bill, stations for the application of modern science to crop production were for the first time authorized in the regions of limited rainfall, with the exception of the station connected with the University of California, where Hilgard from 1872 had been laboring in the face of great difficulties upon the agricultural problems of the state of California. During the first few years of their existence, the stations were busy finding men and problems. The problems nearest at hand were those that had been attacked by the older stations founded under an abundant rainfall and which could not be of vital interest to arid countries. The western stations soon began to attack their more immediate problems, and it was not long before the question of producing crops without irrigation on the great unirrigated stretches of the West was discussed among the station staffs and plans were projected for a study of the methods of conquering the desert.

The Colorado Station was the first to declare its good intentions in the matter of dry-farming, by inaugurating definite experiments. By the action of the State Legislature of 1893, during the time of the great drouth, a substation was established at Cheyenne Wells, near the west border of the state and within the foothills of the Great Plains area. From the summer of 1894 until 1900 experiments were conducted on this farm. The experiments were not based upon any definite theory of reclamation, and consequently the work consisted largely of the comparison of varieties, when soil treatment was the all-important problem to be investigated. True in 1898, a trial of the “Campbell method” was undertaken. By the time this Station had passed its pioneer period and was ready to enter upon more systematic investigation, it was closed. Bulletin 59 of the Colorado Station, published in 1900 by J. E. Payne, gives a summary of observations made on the Cheyenne Wells substation during seven years. This bulletin is the first to deal primarily with the experimental work relating to dry-farming in the Great Plains area. It does not propose or outline any system of reclamation. Several later publications of the Colorado Station deal with the problems peculiar to the Great Plains.

At the Utah Station the possible conquest of the sagebrush deserts of the Great Basin without irrigation was a topic of common conversation during the years 1894 and 1895. In 1896 plans were presented for experiments on the principles of dry-farming. Four years later these plans were carried into effect. In the summer of 1901, the author and L. A. Merrill investigated carefully the practices of the dry-farms of the state. On the basis of these observations and by the use of the established principles of the relation of water to soils and plants, a theory of dry-farming was worked out which was published in Bulletin 75 of the Utah Station in January, 1902. This is probably the first systematic presentation of the principles of dry-farming. A year later the Legislature of the state of Utah made provision for the establishment and maintenance of six experimental dry-farms to investigate in different parts of the state the possibility of dry-farming and the principles underlying the art. These stations, which are still maintained, have done much to stimulate the growth of dry-farming in Utah. The credit of first undertaking and maintaining systematic experimental work in behalf of dry-farming should be assigned to the state of Utah. Since dry-farm experiments began in Utah in 1901, the subject has been a leading one in the Station and the College. A large number of men trained at the Utah Station and College have gone out as investigators of dry-farming under state and Federal direction.

The other experiment stations in the arid and semi-arid region were not slow to take up the work for their respective states. Fortier and Linfield, who had spent a number of years in Utah and had become somewhat familiar with the dry-farm practices of that state, initiated dry-farm investigations in Montana, which have been prosecuted with great vigor since that time. Vernon, under the direction of Foster, who had spent four years in Utah as Director of the Utah Station, initiated the work in New Mexico. In Wyoming the experimental study of dry-farm lands began by the private enterprise of H. B. Henderson and his associates. Later V. T. Cooke was placed in charge of the work under state auspices, and the demonstration of the feasibility of dry-farming in Wyoming has been going on since about 1907. Idaho has also recently undertaken dry-farm investigations. Nevada, once looked upon as the only state in the Union incapable of producing crops without irrigation, is demonstrating by means of state appropriations that large areas there are suitable for dry-farming. In Arizona, small tracts in this sun-baked state are shown to be suitable for dry-farm lands. The Washington Station is investigating the problems of dry-farming peculiar to the Columbia Basin, and the staff of the Oregon Station is carrying on similar work. In Nebraska, some very important experiments dry-farming are being conducted. In North Dakota there were in 1910 twenty-one dry-farm demonstration farms. In South Dakota, Kansas, and Texas, provisions are similarly made for dry-farm investigations. In fact, up and down the Great Plains area there are stations maintained by the state or Federal government for the purpose of determining the methods under which crops can be produced without irrigation.

At the head of the Great Plains area at Saskatchewan one of the oldest dry-farm stations in America is located (since 1888). In Russia several stations are devoted very largely to the problems of dry land agriculture. To be especially mentioned for the excellence of the work done are the stations at Odessa, Cherson, and Poltava. This last-named Station has been established since 1886.

In connection with the work done by the experiment stations should be mentioned the assistance given by the railroads. Many of the railroads owning land along their respective lines are greatly benefited in the selling of these lands by a knowledge of the methods whereby the lands may be made productive. However, the railroads depend chiefly for their success upon the increased prosperity of the population along their lines and for the purpose of assisting the settlers in the arid West considerable sums have been expended by the railroads in cooperation with the stations for the gathering of information of value in the reclamation of arid lands without irrigation.

It is through the efforts of the experiment stations that the knowledge of the day has been reduced to a science of dry-farming. Every student of the subject admits that much is yet to be learned before the last word has been said concerning the methods of dry-farming in reclaiming the waste places of the earth. The future of dry-farming rests almost wholly upon the energy and intelligence with which the experiment stations in this and other countries of the world shall attack the special problems connected with this branch of agriculture.

The United States Department of Agriculture

The Commissioner of Agriculture of the United States was given a secretaryship in the President’s Cabinet in 1889. With this added dignity, new life was given to the department. Under the direction of J. Sterling Morton preliminary work of great importance was done. Upon the appointment of James Wilson as Secretary of Agriculture, the department fairly leaped into a fullness of organization for the investigation of the agricultural problems of the country. From the beginning of its new growth the United States Department of Agriculture has given some thought to the special problems of the semiarid region, especially that part within the Great Plains. Little consideration was at first given to the far West. The first method adopted to assist the farmers of the plains was to find plants with drouth resistant properties. For that purpose explorers were sent over the earth, who returned with great numbers of new plants or varieties of old plants, some of which, such as the durum wheats, have shown themselves of great value in American agriculture. The Bureaus of Plant Industry, Soils, Weather, and Chemistry have all from the first given considerable attention to the problems of the arid region. The Weather Bureau, long established and with perfected methods, has been invaluable in guiding investigators into regions where experiments could be undertaken with some hope of success. The Department of Agriculture was somewhat slow, however, in recognizing dry-farming as a system of agriculture requiring special investigation. The final recognition of the subject came with the appointment, in 1905, of Chilcott as expert in charge of dry-land investigations. At the present time an office of dry-land investigations has been established under the Bureau of Plant Industry, which cooperates with a number of other divisions of the Bureau in the investigation of the conditions and methods of dry-farming. A large number of stations are maintained by the Department over the arid and semiarid area for the purpose of studying special problems, many of which are maintained in connection with the state experiment stations. Nearly all the departmental experts engaged in dry-farm investigation have been drawn from the service of the state stations and in these stations had received their special training for their work. The United States Department of Agriculture has chosen to adopt a strong conservatism in the matter of dry-farming. It may be wise for the Department, as the official head of the agricultural interests of the country, to use extreme care in advocating the settlement of a region in which, in the past, farmers had failed to make a living, yet this conservatism has tended to hinder the advancement of dry-farming and has placed the departmental investigations of dry-farming in point of time behind the pioneer investigations of the subject.

The Dry-farming Congress

As the great dry-farm wave swept over the country, the need was felt on the part of experts and laymen of some means whereby dry-farm ideas from all parts of the country could be exchanged. Private individuals by the thousands and numerous state and governmental stations were working separately and seldom had a chance of comparing notes and discussing problems. A need was felt for some central dry-farm organization. An attempt to fill this need was made by the people of Denver, Colorado, when Governor Jesse F. McDonald of Colorado issued a call for the first Dry-farming Congress to be held in Denver, January 24, 25, and 26, 1907. These dates were those of the annual stock show which had become a permanent institution of Denver and, in fact, some of those who were instrumental in the calling of the Dry-farming Congress thought that it was a good scheme to bring more people to the stock show. To the surprise of many the Dry-farming Congress became the leading feature of the week. Representatives were present from practically all the states interested in dry-farming and from some of the humid states. Utah, the pioneer dry-farm state, was represented by a delegation second in size only to that of Colorado, where the Congress was held. The call for this Congress was inspired, in part at least, by real estate men, who saw in the dry-farm movement an opportunity to relieve themselves of large areas of cheap land at fairly good prices. The Congress proved, however, to be a businesslike meeting which took hold of the questions in earnest, and from the very first made it clear that the real estate agent was not a welcome member unless he came with perfectly honest methods.

The second Dry-farming Congress was held January 22 to 25, 1908, in Salt Lake City, Utah, under the presidency of Fisher Harris. It was even better attended than the first. The proceedings show that it was a Congress at which the dry-farm experts of the country stated their findings. A large exhibit of dry-farm products was held in connection with this Congress, where ocular demonstrations of the possibility of dry-farming were given any doubting Thomas.

The third Dry-farming Congress was held February 23 to 25, 1909, at Cheyenne, Wyoming, under the presidency of Governor W. W. Brooks of Wyoming. An unusually severe snowstorm preceded the Congress, which prevented many from attending, yet the number present exceeded that at any of the preceding Congresses. This Congress was made notable by the number of foreign delegates who had been sent by their respective countries to investigate the methods pursued in America for the reclamation of the arid districts. Among these delegates were representatives from Canada, Australia, The Transvaal, Brazil, and Russia.

The fourth Congress was held October 26 to 28, 1909, in Billings, Montana, under the presidency of Governor Edwin L. Morris of Montana. The uncertain weather of the winter months had led the previous Congress to adopt a time in the autumn as the date of the annual meeting. This Congress became a session at which many of the principles discussed during the three preceding Congresses were crystallized into definite statements and agreed upon by workers from various parts of the country. A number of foreign representatives were present again. The problems of the Northwest and Canada were given special attention. The attendance was larger than at any of the preceding Congresses.

The fifth Congress will be held under the presidency of Hon. F. W. Mondell of Wyoming at Spokane, Washington, during October, 1910. It promises to exceed any preceding Congress in attendance and interest.

The Dry-farming Congress has made itself one of the most important factors in the development of methods for the reclamation of the desert. Its published reports are the most valuable publications dealing with dry-land agriculture. Only simple justice is done when it is stated that the success of the Dry-farming Congress is due in a large measure to the untiring and intelligent efforts of John T. Burns, who is the permanent secretary of the Congress, and who was a member of the first executive committee.

Nearly all the arid and semiarid states have organized state dry-farming congresses. The first of these was the Utah Dry-farming Congress, organized about two months after the first Congress held in Denver. The president is L. A. Merrill, one of the pioneer dry-farm investigators of the Rockies.

Jethro Tull (see frontispiece)

A sketch of the history of dry-farming would be incomplete without a mention of the life and work of Jethro Tull. The agricultural doctrines of this man, interpreted in the light of modern science, are those which underlie modern dry-farming. Jethro Tull was born in Berkshire, England, 1674, and died in 1741. He was a lawyer by profession, but his health was so poor that he could not practice his profession and therefore spent most of his life in the seclusion of a quiet farm. His life work was done in the face of great physical sufferings. In spite of physical infirmities, he produced a system of agriculture which, viewed in the light of our modern knowledge, is little short of marvelous. The chief inspiration of his system came from a visit paid to south of France, where he observed “near Frontignan and Setts, Languedoc” that the vineyards were carefully plowed and tilled in order to produce the largest crops of the best grapes. Upon the basis of this observation he instituted experiments upon his own farm and finally developed his system, which may be summarized as follows: The amount of seed to be used should be proportional to the condition of the land, especially to the moisture that is in it. To make the germination certain, the seed should be sown by drill methods. Tull, as has already been observed, was the inventor of the seed drill which is now a feature of all modern agriculture. Plowing should be done deeply and frequently; two plowings for one crop would do no injury and frequently would result in an increased yield. Finally, as the most important principle of the system, the soil should be cultivated continually, the argument being that by continuous cultivation the fertility of the soil would be increased, the water would be conserved, and as the soil became more fertile less water would be used. To accomplish such cultivation, all crops should be placed in rows rather far apart, so far indeed that a horse carrying a cultivator could walk between them. The horse-hoeing idea of the system became fundamental and gave the name to his famous book, “The Horse Hoeing Husbandry,” by Jethro Tull, published in parts from 1731 to 1741. Tull held that the soil between the rows was essentially being fallowed and that the next year the seed could be planted between the rows of the preceding year and in that way the fertility could be maintained almost indefinitely. If this method were not followed, half of the soil could lie fallow every other year and be subjected to continuous cultivation. Weeds consume water and fertility and, therefore, fallowing and all the culture must be perfectly clean. To maintain fertility a rotation of crops should be practiced. Wheat should be the main grain crop; turnips the root crop; and alfalfa a very desirable crop.

It may be observed that these teachings are sound and in harmony with the best knowledge of to-day and that they are the very practices which are now being advocated in all dry-farm sections. This is doubly curious because Tull lived in a humid country. However, it may be mentioned that his farm consisted of a very poor chalk soil, so that the conditions under which he labored were more nearly those of an arid country than could ordinarily be found in a country of abundant rainfall. While the practices of Jethro Tull were in themselves very good and in general can be adopted to-day, yet his interpretation of the principles involved was wrong. In view of the limited knowledge of his day, this was only to be expected. For instance, he believed so thoroughly in the value of cultivation of the soil, that he thought it would take the place of all other methods of maintaining soil-fertility. In fact, he declared distinctly that “tillage is manure,” which we are very certain at this time is fallacious. Jethro Tull is one of the great investigators of the world. In recognition of the fact that, though living two hundred years ago in a humid country, he was able to develop the fundamental practices of soil culture now used in dry-farming, the honor has been done his memory of placing his portrait as the frontispiece of this volume.


Locate the dry-farm in a section with an annual precipitation of more than ten inches and, if possible, with small wind movement. One man with four horses and plenty of machinery cannot handle more than from 160 to 200 acres. Farm fewer acres and farm them better.

Select a clay loam soil. Other soils may be equally productive, but are cultivated properly with somewhat more difficulty.

Make sure, with the help of the soil auger, that the soil is of uniform structure to a depth of at least eight feet. If streaks of loose gravel or layers of hardpan are near the surface, water may be lost to the plant roots.

After the land has been cleared and broken let it lie fallow with clean cultivation, for one year. The increase in the first and later crops will pay for the waiting.

Always plow the land early in the fall, unless abundant experience shows that fall plowing is an unwise practice in the locality. Always plow deeply unless the subsoil is infertile, in which case plow a little deeper each year until eight or ten inches are reached Plow at least once for each crop. Spring plowing; if practiced, should be done as early as possible in the season.

Follow the plow, whether in the fall or spring, with the disk and that with the smoothing harrow, if crops are to be sown soon afterward. If the land plowed in the fall is to lie fallow for the winter, leave it in the rough condition, except in localities where there is little or no snow and the winter temperature is high.

Always disk the land in early spring, to prevent evaporation. Follow the disk with the harrow. Harrow, or in some other way stir the surface of the soil after every rain. If crops are on the land, harrow as long as the plants will stand it. If hoed crops, like corn or potatoes, are grown, use the cultivator throughout the season. A deep mulch or dry soil should cover the land as far as possible throughout the summer. Immediately after harvest disk the soil thoroughly.

Destroy weeds as soon as they show themselves. A weedy dry-farm is doomed to failure.

Give the land an occasional rest, that is, a clean summer fallow. Under a rainfall of less than fifteen inches, the land should be summer fallowed every other year; under an annual rainfall of fifteen to twenty inches, the summer fallow should occur every third or fourth year. Where the rainfall comes chiefly in the summer, the summer fallow is less important in ordinary years than where the summers are dry and the winters wet. Only an absolutely clean fallow should be permitted.

The fertility of dry-farm soils must be maintained. Return the manure; plow under green leguminous crops occasionally and practice rotation. On fertile soils plants mature with the least water.

Sow only by the drill method. Wherever possible use fall varieties of crops. Plant deeply—three or four inches for grain. Plant early in the fall, especially if the land has been summer fallowed. Use only about one half as much seed as is recommended for humid-farming.

All the ordinary crops may be grown by dry-farming. Secure seed that has been raised on dry-farms. Look out for new varieties, especially adapted for dry-farming, that may be brought in. Wheat is king in dry-farming; corn a close second. Turkey wheat promises the best.

Stock the dry-farm with the best modern machinery. Dry-farming is possible only because of the modern plow, the disk, the drill seeder, the harvester, the header, and the thresher.

Make a home on the dry-farm. Store the flood waters in a reservoir; or pump the underground waters, for irrigating the family garden. Set out trees, plant flowers, and keep some live stock.

Learn to understand the reasons back of the principles of dry-farming, apply the knowledge vigorously, and the crop cannot fail.

Always farm as if a year of drouth were coming.

Man, by his intelligence, compels the laws of nature to do his bidding, and thus he achieves joy.

“And God blessed them—and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth, and subdue it.”


The Shadow of the Year of Drouth still obscures the hope of many a dry-farmer. From the magazine page and the public platform the prophet of evil, thinking himself a friend of humanity, solemnly warns against the arid region and dry-farming, for the year of drouth, he says, is sure to come again and then will be repeated the disasters of 1893-1895. Beware of the year of drouth. Even successful dry-farmers who have obtained good crops every year for a generation or more are half led to expect a dry year or one so dry that crops will fail in spite of all human effort. The question is continually asked, “Can crop yields reasonably be expected every year, through a succession of dry years, under semiarid conditions, if the best methods of dry-farming be practiced?” In answering this question, it may be said at the very beginning, that when the year of drouth is mentioned in connection with dry-farming, sad reference is always made to the experience on the Great Plains in the early years of the ’90′s. Now the fact of the matter is, that while the years of 1893,1894, and 1895 were dry years, the only complete failure came in 1894. In spite of the improper methods practiced by the settlers, the willing soil failed to yield a crop only one year. Moreover, it should not be forgotten that hundreds of farmers in the driest section during this dry period, who instinctively or otherwise farmed more nearly right, obtained good crops even in 1894. The simple practice of summer fallowing, had it been practiced the year before, would have insured satisfactory crops in the driest year. Further, the settlers who did not take to their heels upon the arrival of the dry year are still living in large numbers on their homesteads and in numerous instances have accumulated comfortable fortunes from the land which has been held up so long as a warning against settlement beyond a humid climate. The failure of 1894 was due as much to a lack of proper agricultural information and practice as to the occurrence of a dry year.

Next, the statement is carelessly made that the recent success in dry-farming is due to the fact that we are now living in a cycle of wet years, but that as soon as the cycle of dry years strikes the country dry-farming will vanish as a dismal failure. Then, again, the theory is proposed that the climate is permanently changing toward wetness or dryness and the past has no meaning in reading the riddle of the future. It is doubtless true that no man may safely predict the weather for future generations; yet, so far as human knowledge goes, there is no perceptible average change in the climate from period to period within historical time; neither are there protracted dry periods followed by protracted wet periods. The fact is, dry and wet years alternate. A succession of somewhat wet years may alternate with a succession of somewhat dry years, but the average precipitation from decade to decade is very nearly the same. True, there will always be a dry year, that is, the driest year of a series of years, and this is the supposedly fearful and fateful year of drouth. The business of the dry-farmer is always to farm so as to be prepared for this driest year whenever it comes. If this be done, the farmer will always have a crop: in the wet years his crop will be large; in the driest year it will be sufficient to sustain him.

So persistent is the half-expressed fear that this driest year makes it impossible to rely upon dry-farming as a permanent system of agriculture that a search has been made for reliable long records of the production of crops in arid and semiarid regions. Public statements have been made by many perfectly reliable men to the effect that crops have been produced in diverse sections over long periods of years, some as long as thirty-five or forty year’s, without one failure having occurred. Most of these statements, however, have been general in their nature and not accompanied by the exact yields from year to year. Only three satisfactory records have been found in a somewhat careful search. Others no doubt exist.

The first record was made by Senator J. G. M. Barnes of Kaysville, Utah. Kaysville is located in the Great Salt Lake Valley, about fifteen miles north of Salt Lake City. The climate is semiarid; the precipitation comes mainly in the winter and early spring; the summers are dry, and the evaporation is large. Senator Barnes purchased ninety acres of land in the spring of 1887 and had it farmed under his own supervision until 1906. He is engaged in commercial enterprises and did not, himself, do any of the work on the farm, but employed men to do the necessary labor. However, he kept a close supervision of the farm and decided upon the practices which should be followed. From seventy-eight to eighty-nine acres were harvested for each crop, with the exception of 1902, when all but about twenty acres was fired by sparks from the passing railroad train. The plowing, harrowing, and weeding were done very carefully. The complete record of the Barnes dry-farm from 1887 to 1905 is shown in the table on the following page.

Record of the Barnes Dry-farm, Salt Lake Valley, Utah (90 acres)

Year Annual Yield When When Rainfall per Acre Plowed Sown (Inches) (Bu.) 1887 11.66 —- May Sept. 1888 13.62 Failure May Sept. 1889 18.46 22.5 —- Volunteer+ 1890 10.38 15.5 —- —- 1891 15.92 Fallow May Fall 1892 14.08 19.3 —- —- 1893 17.35 Fallow May Fall 1894 15.27 26.0 —- —- 1895 11.95 Fallow May Aug. 1896 18.42 22.0 —- —- 1897 16.74 Fallow Spring Fall 1898 16.09 26.0 —- —- 1899 17.57 Fallow May Fall 1900 11.53 23.5 —- —- 1901 16.08 Fallow Spring Fall 1902 11.41 28.9 Sept. Fall 1903 14.62 12.5 —- —- 1904 16.31 Fallow Spring Fall 1905 14.23 25.8 —- —-

+About four acres were sown on stubble.

The first plowing was given the farm in May of 1887, and, with the exception of 1902, the land was invariably plowed in the spring. With fall plowing the yields would undoubtedly have been better. The first sowing was made in the fall of 1887, and fall grain was grown during the whole period of observation. The seed sown in the fall of 1887 came up well, but was winter-killed. This is ascribed by Senator Barnes to the very dry winter, though it is probable that the soil was not sufficiently well stored with moisture to carry the crop through. The farm was plowed again in the spring of 1888, and another crop sown in September of the same year. In the summer of 1889, 22-1/2 bushels of wheat were harvested to the acre. Encouraged by this good crop Mr. Barnes allowed a volunteer crop to grow that fall and the next summer harvested as a result 15-1/2 bushels of wheat to the acre. The table shows that only one crop smaller than this was harvested during the whole period of nineteen years, namely, in 1903, when the same thing was done, and one crop was made to follow another without an intervening fallow period. This observation is an evidence in favor of clean summer fallowing. The largest crop obtained, 28.9 bushels per acre in 1902, was gathered in a year when the next to the lowest rainfall of the whole period occurred, namely, 11.41 inches.

The precipitation varied during the nineteen years from 10.33 inches to 18.46 inches. The variation in yield per acre was considerably less than this, not counting the two crops that were grown immediately after another crop. All in all, the unique record of the Barnes dry-farm shows that through a period of nineteen years, including dry and comparatively wet years, there was absolutely no sign of failure, except in the first year, when probably the soil had not been put in proper condition to support crops. In passing it maybe mentioned that, according to the records furnished by Senator Barnes, the total cost of operating the farm during the nineteen years was $4887.69; the total income was $10,144.83. The difference, $5257.14, is a very fair profit on the investment of $1800—the original cost of the farm.

The Indian Head farm

An equally instructive record is furnished by the experimental farm located at Indian Head in Saskatchewan, Canada, in the northern part of the Great Plains area. According to Alway, the country is in appearance very much like western Nebraska and Kansas; the climate is distinctly arid, and the precipitation comes mainly in the spring and summer. It is the only experimental dry-farm in the Great Plains area with records that go back before the dry years of the early ’90′s. In 1882 the soil of this farm was broken, and it was farmed continuously until 1888, when it was made an experimental farm under government supervision. The following table shows the yields obtained from the year 1891, when the precipitation records were first kept, to 1909:—


Year Annual Bushels of Wheat Bushels of Wheat Bushels of Wheat Rainfall per Acre per Acre per Acre (Inches)+ Experimental Experimental Motherwell’s Farm Farm—Fallow Farm—Stubble 1891 14.03 35 32 30 1892 6.92 28 21 28 1893 10.11 35 22 34 1894 3.90 17 9 24 1895 12.28 41 22 26 1896 10.59 39 29 31 1897 14.62 33 26 35 1898 18.03 32 —- 27 1899 9.44 33 —- 33 1900 11.74 17 5 25 1901 20.22 49 38 51 1902 10.73 38 22 28 1903 15.55 35 15 31 1904 11.96 40 29 35 1905 19.17 42 18 36 1906 13.21 26 13 38 1907 15.03 18 18 15 1908 13.17 29 14 16 1909 13.96 28 15 23

+Snowfall not included. This has varied from 2.3 to 1.3 inches of water.

The annual rainfall shown in the second column does not include the water which fell in the form of snow. According to the records at hand, the annual snow fall varied from 2.3 to 1.3 inches of water, which should be added to the rainfall given in the table. Even with this addition the rainfall shows the district to be of a distinctly semiarid character. It will be observed that the precipitation varied from 3.9 to 20.22 inches, and that during the early ’90′s several rather dry years occurred. In spite of this large variation good crops have been obtained during the whole period of nineteen years. Not one failure is recorded. The lowest yield of 17 bushels per acre came during the very dry year of 1894 and during the somewhat dry year of 1900. Some of the largest yields were obtained in seasons when the rainfall was only near the average. As a record showing that the year of drouth need not be feared when dry-farming is done right, this table is of very high interest. It may be noted, incidentally, that throughout the whole period wheat following a fallow always yielded higher than wheat following the stubble. For the nineteen years, the difference was as 32.4 bushels is to 20.5 bushels.

The Mother well farm

In the last column of the table are shown the annual yields of wheat obtained on the farm of Commissioner Motherwell of the province of Saskatchewan. This private farm is located some twenty-five miles away from Indian Head, and the rainfall records of the experimental farm are, therefore, only approximately accurate for the Motherwell farm. The results on this farm may well be compared to the Barnes results of Utah, since they were obtained on a private farm. During the period of nineteen years good crops were invariably obtained; even during the very dry year of 1894, a yield of twenty-four bushels of wheat to the acre was obtained. Curiously enough, the lowest yields of fifteen and sixteen bushels to the acre were obtained in 1907 and 1908 when the precipitation was fairly good, and must be ascribed to some other factor than that of precipitation. The record of this farm shows conclusively that with proper farming there is no need to fear the year of drouth.

The Utah drouth of 1910

During the year of 1910 only 2.7 inches of rain fell in Salt Lake City from March 1 to the July harvest, and all of this in March, as against 7.18 inches during the same period the preceding year. In other parts of the state much less rain fell; in fact, in the southern part of the state the last rain fell during the last week of December, 1909. The drouth remained unbroken until long after the wheat harvests. Great fear was expressed that the dry-farms could not survive so protracted a period of drouth. Agents, sent out over the various dry-farm districts, reported late in June that wherever clean summer fallowing had been practiced the crops were in excellent condition; but that wherever careless methods had been practiced, the crops were poor or killed. The reports of the harvest in July of 1910 showed that fully 85 per cent of an average crop was obtained in spite of the protracted drouth wherever the soil came into the spring well stored with moisture, and in many instances full crops were obtained.

Over the whole of the dry-farm territory of the United States similar conditions of drouth occurred. After the harvest, however, every state reported that the crops were well up to the average wherever correct methods of culture had been employed.

These well-authenticated records from true semi-arid districts, covering the two chief types of winter and summer precipitation, prove that the year of drouth, or the driest year in a twenty-year period, does not disturb agricultural conditions seriously in localities where the average annual precipitation is not too low, and where proper cultural methods arc followed. That dry-farming is a system of agricultural practice which requires the application of high skill and intelligence is admitted; that it is precarious is denied. The year of drouth is ordinarily the year in which the man failed to do properly his share of the work.


It is difficult to obtain a correct view of the present status of dry-farming, first, because dry-farm surveys are only beginning to be made and, secondly, because the area under dry-farm cultivation is increasing daily by leaps and bounds. All arid and semiarid parts of the world are reaching out after methods of soil culture whereby profitable crops may be produced without irrigation, and the practice of dry-farming, according to modern methods, is now followed in many diverse countries. The United States undoubtedly leads at present in the area actually under dry-farming, but, in view of the immense dry-farm districts in other parts of the world, it is doubtful if the United States will always maintain its supremacy in dry-farm acreage. The leadership in the development of a science of dry-farming will probably remain with the United States for years, since the numerous experiment stations established for the study of the problems of farming without irrigation have their work well under way, while, with the exception of one or two stations in Russia and Canada, no other countries have experiment stations for the study of dry-farming in full operation. The reports of the Dry-farming Congress furnish practically the only general information as to the status of dry-farming in the states and territories of the United States and in the countries of the world.


In the state of California dry-farming has been firmly established for more than a generation. The chief crop of the California dry-farms is wheat, though the other grains, root crops, and vegetables are also grown without irrigation under a comparatively small rainfall. The chief dry-farm areas are found in the Sacramento and the San Joaquin valleys. In the Sacramento Valley the precipitation is fairly large, but in the San Joaquin Valley it is very small. Some of the most successful dry-farms of California have produced well for a long succession of years under a rainfall of ten inches and less. California offers a splendid example of the great danger that besets all dry-farm sections. For a generation wheat has been produced on the fertile Californian soils without manuring of any kind. As a consequence, the fertility of the soils has been so far depleted that at present it is difficult to obtain paying crops without irrigation on soils that formerly yielded bountifully. The living problem of the dry-farms in California is the restoration of the fertility which has been removed from the soils by unwise cropping. All other dry-farm districts should take to heart this lesson, for, though crops may be produced on fertile soils for one, two, or even three generations without manuring, yet the time will come when plant-food must be added to the soil in return for that which has been removed by the crops. Meanwhile, California offers, also, an excellent example of the possibility of successful dry-farming through long periods and under varying climatic conditions. In the Golden State dry-farming is a fully established practice; it has long since passed the experimental stage.

Columbia River Basin

The Columbia River Basin includes the state of Washington, most of Oregon, the northern and central part of Idaho, western Montana, and extends into British Columbia. It includes the section often called the Inland Empire, which alone covers some one hundred and fifty thousand square miles. The chief dry-farm crop of this region is wheat; in fact, western Washington or the “Palouse country” is famous for its wheat-producing powers. The other grains, potatoes, roots, and vegetables are also grown without irrigation. In the parts of this dry-farm district where the rainfall is the highest, fruits of many kinds and of a high quality are grown without irrigation. It is estimated that at least two million acres are being dry-farmed in this district. Dry-farming is fully established in the Columbia River Basin. One farmer is reported to have raised in one year on his own farm two hundred and fifty thousand bushels of wheat. In one section of the district where the rainfall for the last few years has been only about ten or eleven inches, wheat has been produced successfully. This corroborates the experience of California, that wheat may really be grown in localities where the annual rainfall is not above ten inches. The most modern methods of dry-farming are followed by the farmers of the Columbia River Basin, but little attention has been given to soil-fertility, since soils that have been farmed for a generation still appear to retain their high productive powers. Undoubtedly, however, in this district, as in California, the question of soil-fertility will be an important one in the near future. This is one of the great dry-farm districts of the world.

The Great Basin

The Great Basin includes Nevada, the western half of Utah, a small part of southern Oregon and Idaho, and also a part of Southern California. It is a great interior basin with all its rivers draining into salt lakes or dry sinks. In recent geological times the Great Basin was filled with water, forming the great Lake Bonneville which drained into the Columbia River. In fact, the Great Basin is made up of a series of great valleys, with very level floors, representing the old lake bottom. On the bench lands are seen, in many places, the effects of the wave action of the ancient lake. The chief dry-farm crop of this district is wheat, but the other grains, including corn, are also produced successfully. Other crops have been tried with fair success, but not on a commercial scale. Grapevines have been made to grow quite successfully without irrigation on the bench lands. Several small orchards bearing luscious fruit are growing on the deep soils of the Great Basin without the artificial application of water. Though the first dry-farming by modern peoples was probably practiced in the Great Basin, yet the area at present under cultivation is not large, possibly a little more than four hundred thousand acres.

Dry-farming, however, is well established. There are large areas, especially in Nevada, that receive less than ten inches of rainfall annually, and one of the leading problems before the dry-farmers of this district is the determination of the possibility of producing crops upon such lands without irrigation. On the older dry-farms, which have existed in some cases from forty to fifty years, there are no signs of diminution of soil-fertility. Undoubtedly, however, even under the conditions of extremely high fertility prevailing in the Great Basin, the time will soon come when the dry-farmer must make provision for restoring to the soil some of the fertility taken away by crops. There are millions of acres in the Great Basin yet to be taken up and subjected to the will of the dry-farmer.

Colorado and Rio Grande River Basins

The Colorado and Rio Grande River Basins include Arizona and the western part of New Mexico. The chief dry-farm crops of this dry district are wheat, corn, and beans. Other crops have also been grown in small quantities and with some success. The area suitable for dry-farming in this district has not yet been fully determined and, therefore, the Arizona and New Mexico stations are undertaking dry-farm surveys of their respective states. In spite of the fact that Arizona is generally looked upon as one of the driest states of the Union, dry-farming is making considerable headway there. In New Mexico, five sixths of all the homestead applications during the last year were for dry-farm lands; and, in fact, there are several prosperous communities in New Mexico which are subsisting almost wholly on dry-farming. It is only fair to say, however, that dry-farming is not yet well established in this district, but that the prospects are that the application of scientific principles will soon make it possible to produce profitable crops without irrigation in large parts of the Colorado and Rio Grande River Basins.

The mountain states

This district includes a part of Montana, nearly the whole of Wyoming and Colorado, and part of eastern Idaho. It is located along the backbone of the Rocky Mountains. The farms are located chiefly in valleys and on large rolling table-lands. The chief dry-farm crop is wheat, though the other crops which are grown elsewhere on dry-farms may be grown here also. In Montana there is a very large area of land which has been demonstrated to be well adapted for dry-farm purposes. In Wyoming, especially on the eastern as well as on the far western side, dry-farming has been shown to be successful, but the area covered at the present time is comparatively small. In Idaho, dry-farming is fairly well established. In Colorado, likewise, the practice is very well established and the area is tolerably large. All in all, throughout the mountain states dry-farming may be said to be well established, though there is a great opportunity for the extension of the practice. The sparse population of the western states naturally makes it impossible for more than a small fraction of the land to be properly cultivated.

The Great Plains Area

This area includes parts of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. It is the largest area of dry-farm land under approximately uniform conditions. Its drainage is into the Mississippi, and it covers an area of not less than four hundred thousand square miles. Dry-farm crops grow well over the whole area; in fact, dry-farming is well established in this district. In spite of the failures so widely advertised during the dry season of 1894, the farmers who remained on their farms and since that time have employed modern methods have secured wealth from their labors. The important question before the farmers of this district is that of methods for securing the best results. From the Dakotas to Texas the farmers bear the testimony that wherever the soil has been treated right, according to approved methods, there have been no crop failures.


Dry-farming has been pushed vigorously in the semiarid portions of Canada, and with great success. Dry-farming is now reclaiming large areas of formerly worthless land, especially in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the adjoining provinces. Dry-farming is comparatively recent in Canada, yet here and there are semiarid localities where crops have been raised without irrigation for upwards of a quarter of a century. In Alberta and other places it has been now practiced successfully for eight or ten years, and it may be said that dry-farming is a well-established practice in the semiarid regions of the Dominion of Canada.


In Mexico, likewise, dry-farming has been tried and found to be successful. The natives of Mexico have practiced farming without irrigation for centuries—and modern methods are now being applied in the zone midway between the extremely dry and the extremely humid portions. The irregular distribution of the precipitation, the late spring and early fall frosts, and the fierce winds combine to make the dry-farm problem somewhat difficult, yet the prospects are that, with government assistance, dry-farming in the near future will become an established practice in Mexico. In the opinion of the best students of Mexico it is the only method of agriculture that can be made to reclaim a very large portion of the country.


Brazil, which is greater in area than the United States, also has a large arid and semiarid territory which can be reclaimed only by dry-farm methods. Through the activity of leading citizens experiments in behalf of the dry-farm movement have already been ordered. The dry-farm district of Brazil receives an annual precipitation of about twenty-five inches, but irregularly distributed and under a tropical sun. In the opinion of those who are familiar with the conditions the methods of dry-farming may be so adapted as to make dry-farming successful in Brazil.


Australia, larger than the continental United States, is vitally interested in dry-farming, for one third of its vast area is under a rainfall of less than ten inches, and another third is under a rainfall of between ten and twenty inches. Two thirds of the area of Australia, if reclaimed at all, must be reclaimed by dry-farming. The realization of this condition has led several Australians to visit the United States for the purpose of learning the methods employed in dry-farming. The reports on dry-farming in America by Surveyor-General Strawbridge and Senator J. H. McColl have done much to initiate a vigorous propaganda in behalf of dry-farming in Australia. Investigation has shown that occasional farmers are found in Australia, as in America, who have discovered for themselves many of the methods of dry-farming and have succeeded in producing crops profitably. Undoubtedly, in time, Australia will be one of the great dry-farming countries of the world.


Up to the present, South Africa only has taken an active interest in the dry-farm movement, due to the enthusiastic labors of Dr. William Macdonald of the Transvaal. The Transvaal has an average annual precipitation of twenty-three inches, with a large district that receives between thirteen and twenty inches. The rain comes in the summer, making the conditions similar to those of the Great Plains. The success of dry-farming has already been practically demonstrated. The question before the Transvaal farmers is the determination of the best application of water conserving methods under the prevailing conditions. Under proper leadership the Transvaal and other portions of Africa will probably join the ranks of the larger dry-farming countries of the world.


More than one fourth of the whole of Russia is so dry as to be reclaimable only by dry-farming. The arid area of southern European Russia has a climate very much like that of the Great Plains. Turkestan and middle Asiatic Russia have a climate more like that of the Great Basin. In a great number of localities in both European and Asiatic Russia dry-farming has been practiced for a number of years. The methods employed have not been of the most refined kind, due, possibly, to the condition of the people constituting the farming class. The government is now becoming interested in the matter and there is no doubt that dry-farming will also be practiced on a very large scale in Russia.


Turkey has also a large area of arid land and, due to American assistance, experiments in dry-farming are being carried on in various parts of the country. It is interesting to learn that the experiments there, up to date, have been eminently successful and that the prospects now are that modern dry-farming will soon be conducted on a large scale in the Ottoman Empire.


The whole of Palestine is essentially arid and semi-arid and dry-farming there has been practiced for centuries. With the application of modern methods it should be more successful than ever before. Dr. Aaronsohn states that the original wild wheat from which the present varieties of wheat have descended has been discovered to be a native of Palestine.


China is also interested in dry-farming. The climate of the drier portions of China is much like that of the Dakotas. Dry-farming there is of high antiquity, though, of course, the methods are not those that have been developed in recent years. Under the influence of the more modern methods dry-farming should spread extensively throughout China and become a great source of profit to the empire. The results of dry-farming in China are among the best.

These countries have been mentioned simply because they have been represented at the recent Dry-farming Congresses. Nearly all of the great countries of the world having extensive semiarid areas are directly interested in dry-farming. The map on pages 30 and 31 shows that more than 55 per cent of the world’s surface receives an annual rainfall of less than twenty inches. Dry-farming is a world problem and as such is being received by the nations.

Posted by: khatraadibasi | October 29, 2011


What is a horsepower?—How the Carthaginians manufactured horsepower—All that goes up must come down—How the sun lifts water up for us to use—Water the ideal power for generating electricity—The weir—Table for estimating flow of streams, with a weir—Another method of measuring—Figuring water horsepower—The size of the wheel—What head is required—Quantity of water necessary.

If a man were off in the woods and needed a horsepower of energy to work for him, he could generate it by lifting 550 pounds of stone or wood, or whatnot, one foot off the ground, and letting it fall back in the space of one second. As a man possesses capacity for work equal to one-fifth horsepower, it would take him five seconds to do the work of lifting the weight up that the weight itself accomplished in falling down. All that goes up must come down; and by a nice balance of physical laws, a falling body hits the ground with precisely the same force as is required to lift it to the height from which it falls.

The Carthaginians, and other ancients (who were deep in the woods as regards mechanical knowledge) had their slaves carry huge stones to the top of the city wall; and the stones were placed in convenient positions to be tipped over on the heads of any besieging army that happened along. Thus by concentrating the energy of many slaves in one batch of stones, the warriors of that day were enabled to deliver “horsepower” in one mass where it would do the most good. The farmer who makes use of the energy of falling water to generate electricity for light, heat, and power does the same thing—he makes use of the capacity for work stored in water in being lifted to a certain height. As in the case of the gasoline engine, which burns 14 pounds of air for every pound of gasoline, the engineer of the water-power plant does not have to concern himself with the question of how this natural source of energy happened to be in a handy place for him to make use of it.

The sun, shining on the ocean, and turning water into vapor by its heat has already lifted it up for him. This vapor floating in the air and blown about by winds, becomes chilled from one cause or another, gives up its heat, turns back into water, and falls as rain. This rain, falling on land five, ten, a hundred, a thousand, or ten thousand feet above the sea level, begins to run back to the sea, picking out the easiest road and cutting a channel that we call a brook, a stream, or a river. Our farm lands are covered to an average depth of about three feet a year with water, every gallon of which has stored in it the energy expended by the heat of the sun in lifting it to the height where it is found.

The farmer, prospecting on his land for water-power, locates a spot on a stream which he calls Supply; and another spot a few feet down hill near the same stream, which he calls Power. Every gallon of water that falls between these two points, and is made to escape through the revolving blades of a water wheel is capable of work in terms of foot-pounds—an amount of work that is directly proportional to the quantity of water, and to the distance in feet which it falls to reach the wheel—poundsand feet.

The Efficient Water Wheel

And it is a very efficient form of work, too. In fact it is one of the most efficient forms of mechanical energy known—and one of the easiest controlled. A modern water wheel uses 85 per cent of the total capacity for work imparted to falling water by gravity, and delivers it as rotary motion. Compare this water wheel efficiency with other forms of mechanical power in common use: Whereas a water wheel uses 85 per cent of the energy of its water supply, and wastes only 15 per cent, a gasoline engine reverses the table, and delivers only 15 per cent of the energy in gasoline and wastes 85 per cent—and it is rather a high-class gasoline engine that can deliver even 15 per cent; a steam engine, on the other hand, uses about 17 per cent of the energy in the coal under its boilers and passes the rest up the chimney as waste heat and smoke.

There is still another advantage possessed by water-power over its two rivals, steam and gas: It gives the most even flow of power. A gas engine “kicks” a wheel round in a circle, by means of successive explosions in its cylinders. A reciprocating steam engine “kicks” a wheel round in a circle by means of steam expanding first in one direction, then in another. A water wheel, on the other hand, is made to revolve by means of the pressure of water—by the constant force of gravity, itself—weight. Weight is something that does not vary from minute to minute, or from one fraction of a second to another. It is always the same. A square inch of water pressing on the blades of a water wheel weights ten, twenty, a hundred pounds, according to the height of the pipe conveying that water from the source of supply, to the wheel. So long as this column of water is maintained at a fixed height, the power it delivers to the wheel does not vary by so much as the weight of a feather.

This property of falling water makes it the ideal power for generating electricity. Electricity generated from mechanical power depends on constant speed for steady pressure—since the electric current, when analyzed, is merely a succession of pulsations through a wire, like waves beating against a sea wall. Water-power delivers these waves at a constant speed, so that electric lights made from water-power do not flicker and jump like the flame of a lantern in a gusty wind. On the other hand, to accomplish the same thing with steam or gasoline requires an especially constructed engine.

The Simple Weir

Since a steady flow of water, and a constant head, bring about this ideal condition in the water wheel, the first problem that faces the farmer prospector is to determine the amount of water which his stream is capable of delivering. This is always measured, for convenience, in cubic feet per minute. (A cubic foot of water weighs 62.5 pounds, and contains 7½ gallons.) This measurement is obtained in several ways, among which probably the use of a weir is the simplest and most accurate, for small streams.

A weir is, in effect, merely a temporary dam set across the stream in such a manner as to form a small pond; and to enable one to measure the water escaping from this pond.

It may be likened to the overflow pipe of a horse trough which is being fed from a spring. To measure the flow of water from such a spring, all that is necessary is to measure the water escaping through the overflow when the water in the trough has attained a permanent level.

Detail of home-made weir
Cross-section of weir

The diagrams show the cross-section and detail of a typical weir, which can be put together in a few minutes with the aid of a saw and hammer. The cross-section shows that the lower edge of the slot through which the water of the temporary pond is made to escape, is cut on a bevel, with its sharp edge upstream. The wing on each side of the opening is for the purpose of preventing the stream from narrowing as it flows through the opening, and thus upsetting the calculations. This weir should be set directly across the flow of the stream, perfectly level, and upright. It should be so imbedded in the banks, and in the bottom of the stream, that no water can escape, except through the opening cut for that purpose. It will require a little experimenting with a rough model to determine just how wide and how deep this opening should be. It should be large enough to prevent water flowing over the top of the board; and it should be small enough to cause a still-water pond to form for several feet behind the weir. Keep in mind the idea of the overflowing water trough when building your weir. The stream, running down from a higher level behind, should be emptying into a still-water pond, which in turn should be emptying itself through the aperture in the board at the same rate as the stream is keeping the pond full.

Your weir should be fashioned with the idea of some permanency so that a number of measurements may be taken, extending over a period of time—thus enabling the prospector to make a reliable estimate not only of the amount of water flowing at any one time, but of its fluctuations.

Under expert supervision, this simple weir is an exact contrivance—exact enough, in fact, for the finest calculations required in engineering work. To find out how many cubic feet of water the stream is delivering at any moment, all that is necessary is to measure its depth where it flows through the opening. There are instruments, like the hook-gauge, which are designed to measure this depth with accuracy up to one-thousandth of an inch. An ordinary foot rule, or a folding rule, will give results sufficiently accurate for the water prospector in this instance. The depth should be measured not at the opening itself, but a short distance back of the opening, where the water is setting at a dead level and is moving very slowly.

With this weir, every square inch of water flowing through the opening indicates roughly one cubic foot of water a minute. Thus if the opening is 10 inches wide and the water flowing through it is 5 inches deep, the number of cubic feet a minute the stream is delivering is 10 × 5 = 50 square inches = 50 cubic feet a minute. This is a very small stream; yet, if it could be made to fall through a water wheel 10 feet below a pond or reservoir, it would exert a continuous pressure of 30,000 pounds per minute on the blades of the wheel—nearly one theoretical horsepower.

This estimate of one cubic foot to each square inch is a very rough approximation. Engineers have developed many complicated formulas for determining the flow of water through weirs, taking into account fine variations that the farm prospector need not heed. The so-called Francis formula, developed by a long series of actual experiments at Lowell, Mass., in 1852 by Mr. James B. Francis, with weirs 10 feet long and 5 feet 2 inches high, is standard for these calculations and is expressed (for those who desire to use it for special purposes) as follows:

Q = 3.33 L H^(3/2) or, Q = 3.33 L H sqrt(H),

in which Q means quantity of water in cubic feet per second, L is length of opening, in feet; and H is height of opening in feet.

The following table is figured according to the Francis formula, and gives the discharge in cubic feet per minute, for openings one inch wide:


Inches 0 ¼ ½ ¾
1 0.403 0.563 0.740 0.966
2 1.141 1.360 1.593 1.838
3 2.094 2.361 2.639 2.927
4 3.225 3.531 3.848 4.173
5 4.506 4.849 5.200 5.558
6 5.925 6.298 6.681 7.071
7 7.465 7.869 8.280 8.697
8 9.121 9.552 9.990 10.427
9 10.884 11.340 11.804 12.272
10 12.747 13.228 13.716 14.208
11 14.707 15.211 15.721 16.236
12 16.757 17.283 17.816 18.352
13 18.895 19.445 19.996 20.558
14 21.116 21.684 22.258 22.835
15 23.418 24.007 24.600 25.195
16 25.800 26.406 27.019 27.634
17 28.256 28.881 29.512 30.145
18 30.785 31.429 32.075 32.733

Thus, let us say, our weir has an opening 30 inches wide, and the water overflows through the opening at a uniform depth of 6¼ inches, when measured a few inches behind the board at a point before the overflow curve begins. Run down the first column on the left to “6″, and cross over to the second column to the right, headed “¼”. This gives the number of cubic feet per minute for this depth one inch wide, as 6.298. Since the weir is 30 inches wide, multiply 6.298 × 30 = 188.94—or, say, 189 cubic feet per minute.

Once the weir is set, it is the work of but a moment to find out the quantity of water a stream is delivering, simply by referring to the above table.

Another Method of Measuring a Stream

Weirs are for use in small streams. For larger streams, where the construction of a weir would be difficult, the U. S. Geological Survey engineers recommend the following simple method:

Choose a place where the channel is straight for 100 or 200 feet, and has a nearly constant depth and width; lay off on the bank a line 50 or 100 feet in length. Throw small chips into the stream, and measure the time in seconds they take to travel the distance laid off on the bank. This gives the surface velocity of the water. Multiply the average of several such tests by 0.80, which will give very nearly the mean velocity. Then it is necessary to find the cross-section of the flowing water (its average depth multiplied by width), and this number, in square feet, multiplied by the velocity in feet per second, will give the number of cubic feet the stream is delivering each second. Multiplied by 60 gives cubic feet a minute.

Figuring a Stream’s Horsepower

By one of the above simple methods, the problem of Quantity can easily be determined. The next problem is to determine what Head can be obtained. Head is the distance in feet the water may be made to fall, from the Source of Supply, to the water wheel itself. The power of water is directly proportional to head, just as it is directly proportional to quantity. Thus the typical weir measured above was 30 inches wide and 6¼ deep, giving 189 cubic feet of water a minute—Quantity. Since such a stream is of common occurrence on thousands of farms, let us analyze briefly its possibilities for power: One hundred and eighty-nine cubic feet of water weighs 189 × 62.5 pounds = 11,812.5 pounds. Drop this weight one foot, and we have 11,812.5 foot-pounds. Drop it 3 feet and we have 11,812 × 3 = 35,437.5 foot-pounds. Since 33,000 foot-pounds exerted in one minute is one horsepower, we have here a little more than one horsepower. For simplicity let us call it a horsepower.

Detail of a water-power plant, showing setting of wheel, and dynamo connection

Now, since the work to be had from this water varies directly with quantity and head, it is obvious that a stream one-half as big falling twice as far, would still give one horsepower at the wheel; or, a stream of 189 cubic feet a minute falling ten times as far, 30 feet, would give ten times the power, or ten horsepower; a stream fallingone hundred times as far would give one hundred horsepower. Thus small quantities of water falling great distances, or large quantities of water falling small distances may accomplish the same results. From this it will be seen, that the simple formula for determining the theoretical horsepower of any stream, in which Quantity and Head are known, is as follows:

(A) Theoretical Horsepower = (Cu. Ft. per minute × Feet head × 62.5) / 33,000

As an example, let us say that we have a stream whose weir measurement shows it capable of delivering 376 cubic feet a minute, with a head (determined by survey) of 13 feet 6 inches. What is the horsepower of this stream?

Answer: H.P. = (Cu. ft. p. m. 376 × head 13.5 × pounds 62.5) / 33,000 = 9.614 horsepower

This is theoretical horsepower. To determine the actual horsepower that can be counted on, in practice, it is customary, with small water wheels, to figure 25 per cent loss through friction, etc. In this instance, the actual horsepower would then be 7.2.

The Size of the Wheel

Water wheels are not rated by horsepower by manufacturers, because the same wheel might develop one horsepower or one hundred horsepower, or even a thousand horsepower, according to the conditions under which it is used. With a given supply of water, the head, in feet, determines the size of wheel necessary. The farther a stream of water falls, the smaller the pipe necessary to carry a given number of gallons past a given point in a given time.

A small wheel, under 10 × 13.5 ft. head, would give the same power with the above 376 cubic feet of water a minute, as a large wheel would with 10 × 376 cubic feet, under a 13.5 foot head.

This is due to the acceleration of gravity on falling bodies. A rifle bullet shot into the air with a muzzle velocity of 3,000 feet a second begins to diminish its speed instantly on leaving the muzzle, and continues to diminish in speed at the fixed rate of 32.16 feet a second, until it finally comes to a stop, and starts to descend. Then, again, its speed accelerates at the rate of 32.16 feet a second, until on striking the earth it has attained the velocity at which it left the muzzle of the rifle, less loss due to friction.

The acceleration of gravity affects falling water in the same manner as it affects a falling bullet. At any one second, during its course of fall, it is traveling at a rate 32.16 feet a second in excess of its speed the previous second.

In figuring the size wheel necessary under given conditions or to determine the power of water with a given nozzle opening, it is necessary to take this into account. The table on page 51 gives velocity per second of falling water, ignoring the friction of the pipe, in heads from 5 to 1000 feet.

The scientific formula from which the table is computed is expressed as follows, for those of a mathematical turn of mind:

Velocity (ft. per sec.) = sqrt(2gh); or, velocity is equal to the square root of the product (g = 32.16,—times head in feet, multiplied by 2).


Head Velocity
5 17.9
6 19.7
7 21.2
8 22.7
9 24.1
10 25.4
11 26.6
11.5 27.2
12 27.8
12.5 28.4
13 28.9
13.5 29.5
14 30.0
14.5 30.5
15 31.3
15.5 31.6
16 32.1
16.5 32.6
17 33.1
17.5 33.6
18 34.0
18.5 34.5
19 35.0
19.5 35.4
20 35.9
20.5 36.3
21 36.8
21.5 37.2
22 37.6
22.5 38.1
23 38.5
23.5 38.9
24 39.3
24.5 39.7
25 40.1
26 40.9
27 41.7
28 42.5
29 43.2
30 43.9
31 44.7
32 45.4
33 46.1
34 46.7
35 47.4
36 48.1
37 48.8
38 49.5
39 50.1
40 50.7
41 51.3
42 52.0
43 52.6
44 53.2
45 53.8
46 54.4
47 55.0
48 55.6
49 56.2
50 56.7
55 59.5
60 62.1
65 64.7
70 67.1
75 69.5
80 71.8
85 74.0
90 76.1
95 78.2
100 80.3
200 114.0
300 139.0
400 160.0
500 179.0
1000 254.0

In the above example, we found that 376 cubic feet of water a minute, under 13.5 feet head, would deliver 7.2 actual horsepower. Question: What size wheel would it be necessary to install under such conditions?

By referring to the table of velocity above, (or by using the formula), we find that water under a head of 13.5 feet, has a spouting velocity of 29.5 feet a second. This means that a solid stream of water 29.5 feet long would pass through the wheel in one second. What should be the diameter of such a stream, to make its cubical contents 376 cubic feet a minute or 376/60 = 6.27 cubic feet a second? The following formula should be used to determine this:

(B) Sq. Inches of wheel = (144 × cu. ft. per second) / (Velocity in ft. per sec.)

Substituting values, in the above instance, we have:

Answer: Sq. Inches of wheel = (144 × 6.27 Cu. Ft. Sec.) / (29.5 Velocity in feet.) = 30.6 sq. in.

That is, a wheel capable of using 30.6 square inches of water would meet these conditions.

What Head is Required

Let us attack the problem of water-power in another way. A farmer wishes to install a water wheel that will deliver 10 horsepower on the shaft, and he finds his stream delivers 400 cubic feet of water a minute. How many feet fall is required? Formula:

(C) Head in feet = (33,000 × horsepower required) / (Cu. Ft. per minute × 62.5)

Since a theoretical horsepower is only 75 per cent efficient, he would require 10 × 4/3 = 13.33 theoretical horsepower of water, in this instance. Substituting the values of the problem in the formula, we have:

Answer: Head = (33,000 × 13.33) / (400 × 62.5) = 17.6 feet fall required.

What capacity of wheel would this prospect (400 cubic feet of water a minute falling 17.6 feet, and developing 13.33 horsepower) require?

By referring to the table of velocities, we find that the velocity for 17.5 feet head (nearly) is 33.6 feet a second. Four hundred feet of water a minute is 400/60 = 6.67 cu. ft. a second. Substituting these values, in formula (B) then, we have:

Answer: Capacity of wheel = (144 × 6.67) / 33.6 = 28.6 sq. in. of water.

Quantity of Water

Let us take still another problem which the prospector may be called on to solve: A man finds that he can conveniently get a fall of 27 feet. He desires 20 actual horsepower. What quantity of water will be necessary, and what capacity wheel?

Twenty actual horsepower will be 20 × 4/3 = 26.67 theoretical horsepower. Formula:

(D) Cubic feet per minute = (33,000 × Hp. required) / (Head in feet × 62.5)

Substituting values, then, we have:

Cu. Ft. per minute = (33,000 × 26.67) / (27 × 62.5) = 521.5 cubic ft. a minute.

A head of 27 feet would give this stream a velocity of 41.7 feet a second, and, from formula (B) we find that the capacity of the wheel should be 30 square inches.

It is well to remember that the square inches of wheel capacity does not refer to the size of pipe conveying water from the head to the wheel, but merely to the actual nozzle capacity provided by the wheel itself. In small installations of low head, such as above a penstock at least six times the nozzle capacity should be used, to avoid losing effective head from friction. Thus, with a nozzle of 30 square inches, the penstock or pipe should be 180 square inches, or nearly 14 inches square inside measurement. A larger penstock would be still better.

Posted by: khatraadibasi | October 29, 2011


Small amount of water required for an electric plant—Exploring, on a dull day—A rough and ready weir—What a little water will do—The water wheel and the dynamo—Electricity consumed the instant it is produced—The price of the average small plant, not counting labor.

The average farmer makes the mistake of considering that one must have a river of some size to develop power of any practical use. On your next free day do a little prospecting. We have already said that 250 cubic feet of water falling 10 feet a minute will provide light, heat and small motor power for the average farm. A single water horsepower will generate enough electricity to provide light for the house and barn. But let us take five horsepower as a desirable minimum in this instance.

Measuring a small stream with a weir

In your neighborhood there is a creek three or four feet wide, toiling along day by day, at its task of watering your fields. Find a wide board a little longer than the width o[Pg 23]f this creek you have scorned. Set it upright across the stream between the banks, so that no water flows around the ends or under it. It should be high enough to set the water back to a dead level for a few feet upstream, before it overflows. Cut a gate in this board, say three feet wide and ten inches deep, or according to the size of a stream. Cut this gate from the top, so that all the water of the stream will flow through the opening, and still maintain a level for several feet back of the board.

This is what engineers call a weir, a handy contrivance for measuring the flow of small streams. Experts have figured out an elaborate system of tables as to weirs. All we need to do now, in this rough survey, is to figure out the number of square inches of water flowing through this opening and falling on the other side. With a rule, measure the depth of the overflowing water, from the bottom  of the opening to the top of the dead level of the water behind the board. Multiply this depth by the width of the opening, which will give the square inches of water escaping. For every square inch of this water escaping, engineers tell us that stream is capable of delivering, roughly, one cubic foot of water a minute.

Thus, if the water is 8 inches deep in an opening 32 inches wide, then the number of cubic feet this stream is delivering each minute is 8 times 32, or 256 cubic feet a minute. So, a stream 32 inches wide, with a uniform depth of 8 inches running through our weir is capable of supplying the demands of the average farm in terms of electricity. Providing, of course, that the lay of the land is such that this water can be made to fall 10 feet into a water wheel.

Go upstream and make a rough survey of the fall. In the majority of instances (unless this is some sluggish stream in a flat prairie) it will be found feasible to divert the stream from its main channel by means of a race—an artificial channel—and to convey it to a not far-distant spot where the necessary fall can be had at an angle of about 30 degrees from horizontal.

If you find there is twice as much water as you need for the amount of power you require, a five-foot fall will give the same result. Or, if there is only one-half as much water as the 250 cubic feet specified, you can still obtain your theoretical five horsepower if the means are at hand for providing a fall of twenty feet instead of ten. Do not make the very common mistake of figuring that a stream is delivering a cubic foot a minute to each square inch of weir opening, simply because it fills a certain opening. It is the excess water, falling over the opening, after the stream has set back to a permanent dead level, that is to be measured.

This farmer who spends an idle day measuring the flow of his brook with a notched board, may say here: “This is all very well. This is the spring of the year, when my brook is flowing at high-water mark. What am I going to do in the dry months of summer, when  there are not 250 cubic feet of water escaping every minute?”

There are several answers to this question, which will be taken up in detail in subsequent chapters. Here, let us say, even if this brook does flow in sufficient volume only 8 months in a year—the dark months, by the way,—is not electricity and the many benefits it provides worth having eight months in the year? My garden provides fresh vegetables four months a year. Because it withers and dies and lies covered with snow during the winter, is that any reason why I should not plow and manure and plant my garden when spring comes again?

A water wheel, the modern turbine, is a circular fan with curved iron blades, revolving in an iron case. Water, forced through the blades of this fan by its own weight, causes the wheel to revolve on its axis; and the fan, in turn causes a shaft fitted with pulleys to revolve.

The water, by giving the iron-bladed fan a turning movement as it rushes through, imparts to it mechanical power. The shaft set in motion by means of this mechanical power is, in turn, belted to the pulley of a dynamo. This dynamo consists, first, of a shaft on which is placed a spool, wound in a curious way, with many turns of insulated copper wire. This spool revolves freely in an air space surrounded by electric magnets. The spool does not touch these magnets. It is so nicely balanced that the weight of a finger will turn it. Yet, when it is revolved by water-power at a predetermined speed—say 1,500 revolutions a minute—it generates electricity, transforms the mechanical power of the water wheel into another form of energy—a form of energy which can be carried for long distances on copper wires, which can, by touching a button, be itself converted into light, or heat, or back into mechanical energy again.

If two wires be led from opposite sides of this revolving spool, and an electric lamp be connected from one to the other wire, the lamp will be lighted—will grow white hot,—hence[Pg 28] incandescent light. The instant this lamp is turned on, the revolving spool feels a stress, the magnets by which it is surrounded begin to pull back on it. The power of the water wheel, however, overcomes this pull. If one hundred lights be turned on, the backward pull of the magnets surrounding the spool will be one hundred times as strong as for one light. For every ounce of electrical energy used in light or heat or power, the dynamo will require a like ounce of mechanical power from the water wheel which drives it.

The story is told of a canny Scotch engineer, who, in the first days of dynamos, not so very long ago, scoffed at the suggestion that such a spool, spinning in free air, in well lubricated bearings, could bring his big Corliss steam engine to a stop. Yet he saw it done simply by belting this “spool,” a dynamo, to his engine and asking the dynamo for more power in terms of light than his steam could deliver in terms of mechanical power to overcome the pull of the magnets.

Electricity must be consumed the instant it is generated (except in rare instances where small amounts are accumulated in storage batteries by a chemical process). The pressure of a button, or the throw of a switch causes the dynamo instantly to respond with just enough energy to do the work asked of it, always in proportion to the amount required. Having this in mind, it is rather curious to think of electricity as being an article of export, an item in international trade. Yet in 1913 hydro-electric companies in Canada “exported” by means of wires, to this country over 772,000,000 kilowatt-hours (over one billion horsepower hours) of electricity for use in factories near the boundary line.

This 250 cubic feet of water per minute then, which the farmer has measured by means of his notched board, will transform by means of its falling weight mechanical power into a like amount of electrical power—less friction losses, which may amount to as much as 60% in very small machines, and 15% in larger plants. That is, the brook which has been draining your pastures for uncounted ages contains the potential power of 3 and 4 young horses—with this difference: that it works 24 hours a day, runs on forever, and requires no oats or hay. And the cost of such an electric plant, which is ample for the needs of the average farm, is in most cases less than the price of a good farm horse—the $200 kind—not counting labor of installation.

It is the purpose of these chapters to awaken the farmer to the possibilities of such small water-power as he or his community may possess; to show that the generating of electricity is a very simple operation, and that the maintenance and care of such a plant is within the mechanical ability of any American farmer or farm boy; and to show that electricity itself is far from being the dangerous death-dealing “fluid” of popular imagination. Electricity must be studied; and then it becomes an obedient, tireless servant. During the past decade or two, mathematical wizards have studied electricity, explored its atoms,[Pg 31] reduced it to simple arithmetic—and although they cannot yet tell us why it is generated, they tell us how. It is with this simple arithmetic, and the necessary manual operations that we have to do here.

Posted by: khatraadibasi | October 29, 2011

Progressive Farmer

We are to consider some of the practices of a virile race of some five hundred millions of people who have an unimpaired inheritance moving with the momentum acquired through four thousand years; a people morally and intellectually strong, mechanically capable, who are awakening to a utilization of all the possibilities which science and invention during recent years have brought to western nations; and a people who have long dearly loved peace but who can and will fight in self defense if compelled to do so.

We had long desired to stand face to face with Chinese and Japanese farmers; to walk through their fields and to learn by seeing some of their methods, appliances and practices which centuries of stress and experience have led these oldest farmers in the world to adopt. We desired to learn how it is possible, after twenty and perhaps thirty or even forty centuries, for their soils to be made to produce sufficiently for the maintenance of such dense populations as are living now in these three countries. We have now had this opportunity and almost every day we were instructed, surprised and amazed at the conditions and practices which confronted us whichever way we turned; instructed in the ways and extent to which these nations for centuries have been and are conserving and utilizing their natural resources, surprised at the magnitude of the returns they are getting from their fields, and amazed at the amount of efficient human labor cheerfully given for a daily wage of five cents and their food, or for fifteen cents, United States currency, without food.

The three main islands of Japan in 1907 had a population of 46,977,003 maintained on 20,000 square miles of cultivated field. This is at the rate of more than three people to each acre, and of 2,349 to each square mile; and yet the total agricultural imports into Japan in 1907 exceeded the agricultural exports by less than one dollar per capita. If the cultivated land of Holland is estimated at but one-third of her total area, the density of her population in 1905 was, on this basis, less than one-third that of Japan in her three main islands. At the same time Japan is feeding 69 horses and 56 cattle, nearly all laboring animals, to each square mile of cultivated field, while we were feeding in 1900 but 30 horses and mules per same area, these being our laboring animals.

As coarse food transformers Japan was maintaining 16,500,000 domestic fowl, 825 per square mile, but only one for almost three of her people. We were maintaining, in 1900, 250,600,000 poultry, but only 387 per square mile of cultivated field and yet more than three for each person. Japan’s coarse food transformers in the form of swine, goats and sheep aggregated but 13 to the square mile and provided but one of these units for each 180 of her people while in the United States in 1900 there were being maintained, as transformers of grass and coarse grain into meat and milk, 95 cattle, 99 sheep and 72 swine per each square mile of improved farms. In this reckoning each of the cattle should be counted as the equivalent of perhaps five of the sheep and swine, for the transforming power of the dairy cow is high. On this basis we are maintaining at the rate of more than 646 of the Japanese units per square mile, and more than five of these to every man, woman and child, instead of one to every 180 of the population, as is the case in Japan.

Correspondingly accurate statistics are not accessible for China but in the Shantung province we talked with a farmer having 12 in his family and who kept one donkey, one cow, both exclusively laboring animals, and two pigs on 2.5 acres of cultivated land where he grew wheat, millet, sweet potatoes and beans. Here is a density of population equal to 3,072 people, 256 donkeys, 256 cattle and 512 swine per square mile. In another instance where the holding was one and two-thirds acres the farmer had 10 in his family and was maintaining one donkey and one pig, giving to this farm land a maintenance capacity of 3,840 people, 384 donkeys and 384 pigs to the square mile, or 240 people, 24 donkeys and 24 pigs to one of our forty-acre farms which our farmers regard too small for a single family. The average of seven Chinese holdings which we visited and where we obtained similar data indicates a maintenance capacity for those lands of 1,783 people, 212 cattle or donkeys and 399 swine,—1,995 consumers and 399 rough food transformers per square mile of farm land. These statements for China represent strictly rural populations. The rural population of the United States in 1900 was placed at the rate of 61 per square mile of improved farm land and there were 30 horses and mules. In Japan the rural population had a density in 1907 of 1,922 per square mile, and of horses and cattle together 125.

The population of the large island of Chungming in the mouth of the Yangtse river, having an area of 270 square miles, possessed, according to the official census of 1902, a density of 3,700 per square mile and yet there was but one large city on the island, hence the population is largely rural.

It could not be other than a matter of the highest industrial, educational and social importance to all nations if there might be brought to them a full and accurate account of all those conditions which have made it possible for such dense populations to be maintained so largely upon the products of Chinese, Korean and Japanese soils. Many of the steps, phases and practices through which this evolution has passed are irrevocably buried in the past but such remarkable maintenance efficiency attained centuries ago and projected into the present with little apparent decadence merits the most profound study and the time is fully ripe when it should be made. Living as we are in the morning of a century of transition from isolated to cosmopolitan national life when profound readjustments, industrial, educational and social, must result, such an investigation cannot be made too soon. It is high time for each nation to study the others and by mutual agreement and co-operative effort, the results of such studies should become available to all concerned, made so in the spirit that each should become coordinate and mutually helpful component factors in the world’s progress.

One very appropriate and immensely helpful means for attacking this problem, and which should prove mutually helpful to citizen and state, would be for the higher educational institutions of all nations, instead of exchanging courtesies through their baseball teams, to send select bodies of their best students under competent leadership and by international agreement, both east and west, organizing therefrom investigating bodies each containing components of the eastern and western civilization and whose purpose it should be to study specifically set problems. Such a movement well conceived and directed, manned by the most capable young men, should create an international acquaintance and spread broadcast a body of important knowledge which would develop as the young men mature and contribute immensely toward world peace and world progress. If some broad plan of international effort such as is here suggested were organized the expense of maintenance might well be met by diverting so much as is needful from the large sums set aside for the expansion of navies for such steps as these, taken in the interests of world uplift and world peace, could not fail to be more efficacious and less expensive than increase in fighting equipment. It would cultivate the spirit of pulling together and of a square deal rather than one of holding aloof and of striving to gain unneighborly advantage.

Many factors and conditions conspire to give to the farms and farmers of the Far East their high maintenance efficiency and some of these may be succinctly stated. The portions of China, Korea and Japan where dense populations have developed and are being maintained occupy exceptionally favorable geographic positions so far as these influence agricultural production. Canton in the south of China has the latitude of Havana, Cuba, while Mukden in Manchuria, and northern Honshu in Japan are only as far north as New York city, Chicago and northern California. The United States lies mainly between 50 degrees and 30 degrees of latitude while these three countries lie between 40 degrees and 20 degrees, some seven hundred miles further south. This difference of position, giving them longer seasons, has made it possible for them to devise systems of agriculture whereby they grow two, three and even four crops on the same piece of ground each year. In southern China, in Formosa and in parts of Japan two crops of rice are grown; in the Chekiang province there may be a crop of rape, of wheat or barley or of windsor beans or clover which is followed in midsummer by another of cotton or of rice. In the Shantung province wheat or barley in the winter and spring may be followed in summer by large or small millet, sweet potatoes, soy beans or peanuts. At Tientsin, 39 deg north, in the latitude of Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Springfield, Illinois, we talked with a farmer who followed his crop of wheat on his small holding with one of onions and the onions with cabbage, realizing from the three crops at the rate of $163, gold, per acre; and with another who planted Irish potatoes at the earliest opportunity in the spring, marketing them when small, and following these with radishes, the radishes with cabbage, realizing from the three crops at the rate of $203 per acre.

Nearly 500,000,000 people are being maintained, chiefly upon the products of an area smaller than the improved farm lands of the United States. Complete a square on the lines drawn from Chicago southward to the Gulf and westward across Kansas, and there will be enclosed an area greater than the cultivated fields of China, Korea and Japan and from which five times our present population are fed.

The rainfall in these countries is not only larger than that even in our Atlantic and Gulf states, but it falls more exclusively during the summer season when its efficiency in crop production may be highest. South China has a rainfall of some 80 inches with little of it during the winter, while in our southern states the rainfall is nearer 60 inches with less than one-half of it between June and September. Along a line drawn from Lake Superior through central Texas the yearly precipitation is about 30 inches but only 16 inches of this falls during the months May to September; while in the Shantung province, China, with an annual rainfall of little more than 24 inches, 17 of these fall during the months designated and most of this in July and August. When it is stated that under the best tillage and with no loss of water through percolation, most of our agricultural crops require 300 to 600 tons of water for each ton of dry substance brought to maturity, it can be readily understood that the right amount of available moisture, coming at the proper time, must be one of the prime factors of a high maintenance capacity for any soil, and hence that in the Far East, with their intensive methods, it is possible to make their soils yield large returns.

The selection of rice and of the millets as the great staple food crops of these three nations, and the systems of agriculture they have evolved to realize the most from them, are to us remarkable and indicate a grasp of essentials and principles which may well cause western nations to pause and reflect.

Notwithstanding the large and favorable rainfall of these countries, each of the nations have selected the one crop which permits them to utilize not only practically the entire amount of rain which falls upon their fields, but in addition enormous volumes of the run-off from adjacent uncultivable mountain country. Wherever paddy fields are practicable there rice is grown. In the three main islands of Japan 56 per cent of the cultivated fields, 11,000 square miles, is laid out for rice growing and is maintained under water from transplanting to near harvest time, after which the land is allowed to dry, to be devoted to dry land crops during the balance of the year, where the season permits.

To anyone who studies the agricultural methods of the Far East in the field it is evident that these people, centuries ago, came to appreciate the value of water in crop production as no other nations have. They have adapted conditions to crops and crops to conditions until with rice they have a cereal which permits the most intense fertilization and at the same time the ensuring of maximum yields against both drought and flood. With the practice of western nations in all humid climates, no matter how completely and highly we fertilize, in more years than not yields are reduced by a deficiency or an excess of water.

It is difficult to convey, by word or map, an adequate conception of the magnitude of the systems of canalization which contribute primarily to rice culture. A conservative estimate would place the miles of canals in China at fully 200,000 and there are probably more miles of canal in China, Korea and Japan than there are miles of railroad in the United States. China alone has as many acres in rice each year as the United States has in wheat and her annual product is more than double and probably threefold our annual wheat crop, and yet the whole of the rice area produces at least one and sometimes two other crops each year.

The selection of the quick-maturing, drought-resisting millets as the great staple food crops to be grown wherever water is not available for irrigation, and the almost universal planting in hills or drills, permitting intertillage, thus adopting centuries ago the utilization of earth mulches in conserving soil moisture, has enabled these people to secure maximum returns in seasons of drought and where the rainfall is small. The millets thrive in the hot summer climates; they survive when the available soil moisture is reduced to a low limit, and they grow vigorously when the heavy rains come. Thus we find in the Far East, with more rainfall and a better distribution of it than occurs in the United States, and with warmer, longer seasons, that these people have with rare wisdom combined both irrigation and dry farming methods to an extent and with an intensity far beyond anything our people have ever dreamed, in order that they might maintain their dense populations.

Notwithstanding the fact that in each of these countries the soils are naturally more than ordinarily deep, inherently fertile and enduring, judicious and rational methods of fertilization are everywhere practiced; but not until recent years, and only in Japan, have mineral commercial fertilizers been used. For centuries, however, all cultivated lands, including adjacent hill and mountain sides, the canals, streams and the sea have been made to contribute what they could toward the fertilization of cultivated fields and these contributions in the aggregate have been large. In China, in Korea and in Japan all but the inaccessible portions of their vast extent of mountain and hill lands have long been taxed to their full capacity for fuel, lumber and herbage for green manure and compost material; and the ash of practically all of the fuel and of all of the lumber used at home finds its way ultimately to the fields as fertilizer.

In China enormous quantities of canal mud are applied to the fields, sometimes at the rate of even 70 and more tons per acre. So, too, where there are no canals, both soil and subsoil are carried into the villages and there between the intervals when needed they are, at the expense of great labor, composted with organic refuse and often afterwards dried and pulverized before being carried back and used on the fields as home-made fertilizers. Manure of all kinds, human and animal, is religiously saved and applied to the fields in a manner which secures an efficiency far above our own practices. Statistics obtained through the Bureau of Agriculture, Japan, place the amount of human waste in that country in 1908 at 23,950,295 tons, or 1.75 tons per acre of her cultivated land. The International Concession of the city of Shanghai, in 1908, sold to a Chinese contractor the privilege of entering residences and public places early in the morning of each day in the year and removing the night soil, receiving therefor more than $31,000, gold, for 78,000 tons of waste. All of this we not only throw away but expend much larger sums in doing so.

Japan’s production of fertilizing material, regularly prepared and applied to the land annually, amounts to more than 4.5 tons per acre of cultivated field exclusive of the commercial fertilizers purchased. Between Shanhaikwan and Mukden in Manchuria we passed, on June 18th, thousands of tons of the dry highly nitrified compost soil recently carried into the fields and laid down in piles where it was waiting to be “fed to the crops.”

It was not until 1888, and then after a prolonged war of more than thirty years, generaled by the best scientists of all Europe, that it was finally conceded as demonstrated that leguminous plants acting as hosts for lower organisms living on their roots are largely responsible for the maintenance of soil nitrogen, drawing it directly from the air to which it is returned through the processes of decay. But centuries of practice had taught the Far East farmers that the culture and use of these crops are essential to enduring fertility, and so in each of the three countries the growing of legumes in rotation with other crops very extensively for the express purpose of fertilizing the soil is one of their old, fixed practices.

Just before, or immediately after the rice crop is harvested, fields are often sowed to “clover” (Astragalus sinicus) which is allowed to grow until near the next transplanting time when it is either turned under directly, or more often stacked along the canals and saturated while doing so with soft mud dipped from the bottom of the canal. After fermenting twenty or thirty days it is applied to the field. And so it is literally true that these old world farmers whom we regard as ignorant, perhaps because they do not ride sulky plows as we do, have long included legumes in their crop rotation, regarding them as indispensable.

Time is a function of every life process as it is of every physical, chemical and mental reaction. The husbandman is an industrial biologist and as such is compelled to shape his operations so as to conform with the time requirements of his crops. The oriental farmer is a time economizer beyond all others. He utilizes the first and last minute and all that are between. The foreigner accuses the Chinaman of being always long on time, never in a fret, never in a hurry. This is quite true and made possible for the reason that they are a people who definitely set their faces toward the future and lead time by the forelock. They have long realized that much time is required to transform organic matter into forms available for plant food and although they are the heaviest users in the world, the largest portion of this organic matter is predigested with soil or subsoil before it is applied to their fields, and at an enormous cost of human time and labor, but it practically lengthens their growing season and enables them to adopt a system of multiple cropping which would not otherwise be possible. By planting in hills and rows with intertillage it is very common to see three crops growing upon the same field at one time, but in different stages of maturity, one nearly ready to harvest one just coming up, and the other at the stage when it is drawing most heavily upon the soil. By such practice, with heavy fertilization, and by supplemental irrigation when needful, the soil is made to do full duty throughout the growing season.

Then, notwithstanding the enormous acreage of rice planted each year in these countries, it is all set in hills and every spear is transplanted. Doing this, they save in many ways except in the matter of human labor, which is the one thing they have in excess. By thoroughly preparing the seed bed, fertilizing highly and giving the most careful attention, they are able to grow on one acre, during 30 to 50 days, enough plants to occupy ten acres and in the mean time on the other nine acres crops are maturing, being harvested and the fields being fitted to receive the rice when it is ready for transplanting, and in effect this interval of time is added to their growing season.

Silk culture is a great and, in some ways, one of the most remarkable industries of the Orient. Remarkable for its magnitude; for having had its birthplace apparently in oldest China at least 2700 years B. C.; for having been laid on the domestication of a wild insect of the woods; and for having lived through more than 4000 years, expanding until a million-dollar cargo of the product has been laid down on our western coast and rushed by special fast express to the cast for the Christmas trade.

A low estimate of China’s production of raw silk would be 120,000,000 pounds annually, and this with the output of Japan, Korea and a small area of southern Manchuria, would probably exceed 150,000,000 pounds annually, representing a total value of perhaps $700,000,000, quite equaling in value the wheat crop of the United States, but produced on less than one-eighth the area of our wheat fields.

The cultivation of tea in China and Japan is another of the great industries of these nations, taking rank with that of sericulture if not above it in the important part it plays in the welfare of the people. There is little reason to doubt that this industry has its foundation in the need of something to render boiled water palatable for drinking purposes. The drinking of boiled water is universally adopted in these countries as an individually available and thoroughly efficient safeguard against that class of deadly disease germs which thus far it has been impossible to exclude from the drinking water of any densely peopled country.

Judged by the success of the most thorough sanitary measures thus far instituted, and taking into consideration the inherent difficulties which must increase enormously with increasing populations, it appears inevitable that modern methods must ultimately fail in sanitary efficiency and that absolute safety can be secured only in some manner having the equivalent effect of boiling drinking water, long ago adopted by the Mongolian races.

In the year 1907 Japan had 124,482 acres of land in tea plantations, producing 60,877,975 pounds of cured tea. In China the volume annually produced is much larger than that of Japan, 40,000,000 pounds going annually to Tibet alone from the Szechwan province and the direct export to foreign countries was, in 1905, 176,027,255 pounds, and in 1906 it was 180,271,000, so that their annual export must exceed 200,000,000 pounds with a total annual output more than double this amount of cured tea.

But above any other factor, and perhaps greater than all of them combined in contributing to the high maintenance efficiency attained in these countries must be placed the standard of living to which the industrial classes have been compelled to adjust themselves, combined with their remarkable industry and with the most intense economy they practice along every line of effort and of living.

Almost every foot of land is made to contribute material for food, fuel or fabric. Everything which can be made edible serves as food for man or domestic animals. Whatever cannot be eaten or worn is used for fuel. The wastes of the body, of fuel and of fabric worn beyond other use are taken back to the field; before doing so they are housed against waste from weather, compounded with intelligence and forethought and patiently labored with through one, three or even six months, to bring them into the most efficient form to serve as manure for the soil or as feed for the crop. It seems to be a golden rule with these industrial classes, or if not golden, then an inviolable one, that whenever an extra hour or day of labor can promise even a little larger return then that shall be given, and neither a rainy day nor the hottest sunshine shall be permitted to cancel the obligation or defer its execution.



We left the United States from Seattle for Shanghai, China, sailing by the northern route, at one P. M. February second, reaching Yokohama February 19th and Shanghai, March 1st. It was our aim throughout the journey to keep in close contact with the field and crop problems and to converse personally, through interpreters or otherwise, with the farmers, gardeners and fruit growers themselves; and we have taken pains in many cases to visit the same fields or the same region two, three or more times at different intervals during the season in order to observe different phases of the same cultural or fertilization methods as these changed or varied with the season.

Our first near view of Japan came in the early morning of February 19th when passing some three miles off the point where the Pacific passenger steamer Dakota was beached and wrecked in broad daylight without loss of life two years ago. The high rounded hills were clothed neither in the dense dark forest green of Washington and Vancouver, left sixteen days before, nor yet in the brilliant emerald such as Ireland’s hills in June fling in unparalleled greeting to passengers surfeited with the dull grey of the rolling ocean. This lack of strong forest growth and even of shrubs and heavy herbage on hills covered with deep soil, neither cultivated nor suffering from serious erosion, yet surrounded by favorable climatic conditions, was our first great surprise.

To the southward around the point, after turning northward into the deep bay, similar conditions prevailed, and at ten o’clock we stood off Uraga where Commodore Perry anchored on July 8th, 1853, bearing to the Shogun President Fillmore’s letter which opened the doors of Japan to the commerce of the world and, it is to be hoped brought to her people, with their habits of frugality and industry so indelibly fixed by centuries of inheritance, better opportunities for development along those higher lines destined to make life still more worth living.

As the Tosa Maru drew alongside the pier at Yokohama it was raining hard and this had attired an army after the manner of Robinson Crusoe, dressed as seen in Fig. 1, ready to carry you and yours to the Customs house and beyond for one, two, three or five cents. Strong was the contrast when the journey was reversed and we descended the gang plank at Seattle, where no one sought the opportunity of moving baggage.

Through the kindness of Captain Harrison of the Tosa Maru in calling an interpreter by wireless to meet the steamer, it was possible to utilize the entire interval of stop in Yokohama to the best advantage in the fields and gardens spread over the eighteen miles of plain extending to Tokyo, traversed by both electric tram and railway lines, each running many trains making frequent stops; so that this wonderfully fertile and highly tilled district could be readily and easily reached at almost any point.

We had left home in a memorable storm of snow, sleet and rain which cut out of service telegraph and telephone lines over a large part of the United States; we had sighted the Aleutian Islands, seeing and feeling nothing on the way which could suggest a warm soil and green fields, hence our surprise was great to find the jinricksha men with bare feet and legs naked to the thighs, and greater still when we found, before we were outside the city limits, that the electric tram was running between fields and gardens green with wheat, barley, onions, carrots, cabbage and other vegetables. We were rushing through the Orient with everything outside the car so strange and different from home that the shock came like a bolt of lightning out of a clear sky.

In the car every man except myself and one other was smoking tobacco and that other was inhaling camphor through an ivory mouthpiece resembling a cigar holder closed at the end. Several women, tiring of sitting foreign style, slipped off—I cannot say out of—their shoes and sat facing the windows, with toes crossed behind them on the seat. The streets were muddy from the rain and everybody Japanese was on rainy-day wooden shoes, the soles carried three to four inches above the ground by two cross blocks, in the manner seen in Fig. 2. A mother, with baby on her back and a daughter of sixteen years came into the car. Notwithstanding her high shoes the mother had dipped one toe into the mud. Seated, she slipped her foot off. Without evident instructions the pretty black-eyed, glossy-haired, red-lipped lass, with cheeks made rosy, picked up the shoe, withdrew a piece of white tissue paper from the great pocket in her sleeve, deftly cleaned the otherwise spotless white cloth sock and then the shoe, threw the paper on the floor, looked to see that her fingers were not soiled, then set the shoe at her mother’s foot, which found its place without effort or glance.

Everything here was strange and the scenes shifted with the speed of the wildest dream. Now it was driving piles for the foundation of a bridge. A tripod of poles was erected above the pile and from it hung a pulley. Over the pulley passed a rope from the driving weight and from its end at the pulley ten cords extended to the ground. In a circle at the foot of the tripod stood ten agile Japanese women. They were the hoisting engine. They chanted in perfect rhythm, hauled and stepped, dropped the weight and hoisted again, making up for heavier hammer and higher drop by more blows per minute. When we reached Shanghai we saw the pile driver being worked from above. Fourteen Chinese men stood upon a raised staging, each with a separate cord passing direct from the hand to the weight below. A concerted, half-musical chant, modulated to relieve monotony, kept all hands together. What did the operation of this machine cost? Thirteen cents, gold, per man per day, which covered fuel and lubricant, both automatically served. Two additional men managed the piles, two directed the hammer, eighteen manned the outfit. Two dollars and thirty-four cents per day covered fuel, superintendence and repairs. There was almost no capital invested in machinery. Men were plenty and to spare. Rice was the fuel, cooked without salt, boiled stiff, reinforced with a hit of pork or fish, appetized with salted cabbage or turnip and perhaps two or three of forty and more other vegetable relishes. And are these men strong and happy? They certainly were strong. They are steadily increasing their millions, and as one stood and watched them at their work their faces were often wreathed in smiles and wore what seemed a look of satisfaction and contentment.

Among the most common sights on our rides from Yokohama to Tokyo, both within the city and along the roads leading to the fields, starting early in the morning, were the loads of night soil carried on the shoulders of men and on the backs of animals, but most commonly on strong carts drawn by men, bearing six to ten tightly covered wooden containers holding forty, sixty or more pounds each. Strange as it may seem, there are not today and apparently never have been, even in the largest and oldest cities of Japan, China or Korea, anything corresponding to the hydraulic systems of sewage disposal used now by western nations. Provision is made for the removal of storm waters but when I asked my interpreter if it was not the custom of the city during the winter months to discharge its night soil into the sea, as a quicker and cheaper mode of disposal, his reply came quick and sharp, “No, that would be waste. We throw nothing away. It is worth too much money.” In such public places as rail way stations provision is made for saving, not for wasting, and even along the country roads screens invite the traveler to stop, primarily for profit to the owner more than for personal convenience.

Between Yokohama and Tokyo along the electric car line and not far distant from the seashore, there were to be seen in February very many long, fence-high screens extending east and west, strongly inclined to the north, and built out of rice straw, closely tied together and supported on bamboo poles carried upon posts of wood set in the ground. These screens, set in parallel series of five to ten or more in number and several hundred feet long, were used for the purpose of drying varieties of delicate seaweed, these being spread out in the manner shown in Fig. 3.

The seaweed is first spread upon separate ten by twelve inch straw mats, forming a thin layer seven by eight inches. These mats are held by means of wooden skewers forced through the body of the screen, exposing the seaweed to the direct sunshine. After becoming dry the rectangles of seaweed are piled in bundles an inch thick, cut once in two, forming packages four by seven inches, which are neatly tied and thus exposed for sale as soup stock and for other purposes. To obtain this seaweed from the ocean small shrubs and the limbs of trees are set up in the bottom of shallow water, as seen in Fig. 4. To these limbs the seaweeds become attached, grow to maturity and are then gathered by hand. By this method of culture large amounts of important food stuff are grown for the support of the people on areas otherwise wholly unproductive.

Another rural feature, best shown by photograph taken in February, is the method of training pear orchards in Japan, with their limbs tied down upon horizontal over-bead trellises at a height under which a man can readily walk erect and easily reach the fruit with the hand while standing upon the ground. Pear orchards thus form arbors of greater or less size, the trees being set in quincunx order about twelve feet apart in and between the rows. Bamboo poles are used overhead and these carried on posts of the same material 1.5 to 2.5 inches in diameter, to which they are tied. Such a pear orchard is shown in Fig. 5.

The limbs of the pear trees are trained strictly in one plane, tying them down and pruning out those not desired. As a result the ground beneath is completely shaded and every pear is within reach, which is a great convenience when it becomes desirable to protect the fruit from insects, by tying paper bags over every pear as seen in Figs. 6 and 7. The orchard ground is kept free from weeds and not infrequently is covered with a layer of rice or other straw, extensively used in Japan as a ground cover with various crops and when so used is carefully laid in handfuls from bundles, the straws being kept parallel as when harvested.

To one from a country of 160-acre farms, with roads four rods wide; of cities with broad streets and residences with green lawns and ample back yards; and where the cemeteries are large and beautiful parks, the first days of travel in these old countries force the over-crowding upon the attention as nothing else can. One feels that the cities are greatly over-crowded with houses and shops, and these with people and wares; that the country is over-crowded with fields and the fields with crops; and that in Japan the over-crowding is greatest of all in the cemeteries, gravestones almost touching and markers for families literally in bundles at a grave, while round about there may be no free country whatever, dwellings, gardens or rice paddies contesting the tiny allotted areas too closely to leave even foot-paths between.

Unless recently modified through foreign influence the streets of villages and cities are narrow, as seen in Fig. 8, where however the street is unusually broad. This is a village in the Hakone district on a beautiful lake of the same name, where stands an Imperial summer palace, seen near the center of the view on a hill across the lake. The roofs of the houses here are typical of the neat, careful thatching with rice straw, very generally adopted in place of tile for the country villages throughout much of Japan. The shops and stores, open full width directly upon the street, are filled to overflowing, as seen in Fig. 9 and in Fig. 22.

In the canalized regions of China the country villages crowd both banks of a canal, as is the case in Fig. 10. Here, too, often is a single street and it very narrow, very crowded and very busy. Stone steps lead from the houses down into the water where clothing, vegetables, rice and what not are conveniently washed. In this particular village two rows of houses stand on one side of the canal separated by a very narrow street, and a single row on the other. Between the bridge where the camera was exposed and one barely discernible in the background, crossing the canal a third of a mile distant, we counted upon one side, walking along the narrow street, eighty houses each with its family, usually of three generations and often of four. Thus in the narrow strip, 154 feet broad, including 16 feet of street and 30 feet of canal, with its three lines of houses. lived no less than 240 families and more than 1200 and probably nearer 2000 people.

When we turn to the crowding of fields in the country nothing except seeing can tell so forcibly the fact as such landscapes as those of Figs. 11, 12 and 13, one in Japan, one in Korea and one in China, not far from Nanking, looking from the hills across the fields to the broad Yangtse kiang, barely discernible as a band of light along the horizon.

The average area of the rice field in Japan is less than five square rods and that of her upland fields only about twenty. In the case of the rice fields the small size is necessitated partly by the requirement of holding water on the sloping sides of the valley, as seen in Fig. 11. These small areas do not represent the amount of land worked by one family, the average for Japan being more nearly 2.5 acres. But the lands worked by one family are seldom contiguous, they may even be widely scattered and very often rented.

The people generally live in villages, going often considerable distances to their work. Recognizing the great disadvantage of scattered holdings broken into such small areas, the Japanese Government has passed laws for the adjustment of farm lands which have been in force since 1900. It provides for the exchange of lands; for changing boundaries; for changing or abolishing roads, embankments, ridges or canals and for alterations in irrigation and drainage which would ensure larger areas with channels and roads straightened, made less numerous and less wasteful of time, labor and land. Up to 1907 Japan had issued permits for the readjustment of over 240,000 acres, and Fig. 14 is a landscape in one of these readjusted districts. To provide capable experts for planning and supervising these changes the Government in 1905 intrusted the training of men to the higher agricultural school belonging to the Dai Nippon Agricultural Association and since 1906 the Agricultural College and the Kogyokusha have undertaken the same task and now there are men sufficient to push the work as rapidly as desired.

It may be remembered, too, as showing how, along other fundamental lines, Japan is taking effective steps to improve the condition of her people, that she already has her Imperial highways extending from one province to another; her prefectural roads which connect the cities and villages within the prefecture; and those more local which serve the farms and villages. Each of the three systems of roads is maintained by a specific tax levied for the purpose which is expended under proper supervision, a designated section of road being kept in repair through the year by a specially appointed crew, as is the practice in railroad maintenance. The result is, Japan has roads maintained in excellent condition, always narrow, sacrificing the minimum of land, and everywhere without fences.

How the fields are crowded with crops and all available land is made to do full duty in these old, long-tilled countries is evident in Fig. 15 where even the narrow dividing ridges but a foot wide, which retain the water on the rice paddies, are bearing a heavy crop of soy beans; and where may be seen the narrow pear orchard standing on the very slightest rise of ground, not a foot above the water all around, which could better be left in grading the paddies to proper level.

How closely the ground itself may be crowded with plants is seen in Fig. 16, where a young peach orchard, whose tree tops were six feet through, planted in rows twenty-two feet apart, had also ten rows of cabbage, two rows of large windsor beans and a row of garden peas. Thirteen rows of vegetables in 22 feet, all luxuriant and strong, and note the judgment shown in placing the tallest plants, needing the most sun, in the center between the trees.

But these old people, used to crowding and to being crowded, and long ago capable of making four blades of grass grow where Nature grew but one, have also learned how to double the acreage where a crop needs more elbow than it does standing room, as seen in Fig. 17. This man’s garden had an area of but 63 by 68 feet and two square rods of this was held sacred to the family grave mound, and yet his statement of yields, number of crops and prices made his earning $100 a year on less than one-tenth of an acre.

His crop of cucumbers on less than .06 of an acre would bring him $20. He had already sold $5 worth of greens and a second crop would follow the cucumbers. He had just irrigated his garden from an adjoining canal, using a foot-power pump, and stated that until it rained he would repeat the watering once per week. It was his wife who stood in the garden and, although wearing trousers, her dress showed full regard for modesty.

But crowding crops more closely in the field not only requires higher feeding to bring greater returns, but also relatively greater care, closer watchfulness in a hundred ways and a patience far beyond American measure; and so, before the crowding of the crops in the field and along with it, there came to these very old farmers a crowding of the grey matter in the brain with the evolution of effective texture. This is shown in his fields which crowd the landscape. It is seen in the crops which crowd his fields. You see it in the old man’s face, Fig. 18, standing opposite his compeer, Prince Ching, Fig. 19, each clad in winter dress which is the embodiment of conversation, retaining the fires of the body for its own needs, to release the growth on mountain sides for other uses. And when one realizes how, nearly to the extreme limits, conservation along all important lines is being practiced as an inherited instinct, there need be no surprise when one reflects that the two men, one as feeder and the other as leader, are standing in the fore of a body of four hundred millions of people who have marched as a nation through perhaps forty centuries, and who now, in the light and great promise of unfolding science have their faces set toward a still more hopeful and longer future.

On February 21st the Tosa Maru left Yokohama for Kobe at schedule time on the tick of the watch, as she had done from Seattle. All Japanese steamers appear to be moved with the promptness of a railway train. On reaching Kobe we transferred to the Yamaguchi Maru which sailed the following morning, to shorten the time of reaching Shanghai. This left but an afternoon for a trip into the country between Kobe and Osaka, where we found, if possible, even higher and more intensive culture practices than on the Tokyo plain, there being less land not carrying a winter crop. And Fig. 20 shows how closely the crops crowd the houses and shops. Here were very many cement lined cisterns or sheltered reservoirs for collecting manures and preparing fertilizers and the appearance of both soil and crops showed in a marked manner to what advantage. We passed a garden of nearly an acre entirely devoted to English violets just coming into full bloom. They were grown in long parallel east and west beds about three feet wide. On the north edge of each bed was erected a rice-straw screen four feet high which inclined to the south, overhanging the bed at an angle of some thirty-five degrees, thus forming a sort of bake-oven tent which reflected the sun, broke the force of the wind and checked the loss of heat absorbed by the soil.

The voyage from Kobe to Moji was made between 10 in the morning, February 24th, and 5 .30 P. M. of February 25th over a quiet sea with an enjoyable ride. Being fogbound during the night gave us the whole of Japan’s beautiful Inland Sea, enchanting beyond measure, in all its near and distant beauty but which no pen, no brush, no camera may attempt. Only the eye can convey. Before reaching harbor the tide had been rising and the strait separating Honshu from Kyushu island was running like a mighty swirling river between Moji and Shimonoseki, dangerous to attempt in the dark, so we waited until morning.

There was cargo to take on board and the steamer must coal. No sooner had the anchor dropped and the steamer swung into the current than lighters came alongside with out-going freight. The small, strong, agile Japanese stevedores had this task completed by 8:30 P. M. and when we returned to the deck after supper another scene was on. The cargo lighters had gone and four large barges bearing 250 tons of coal had taken their places on opposite sides of the steamer, each illuminated with buckets of blazing coal or by burning conical heaps on the surface. From the bottom of these pits in the darkness the illumination suggested huge decapitated ant heaps in the wildest frenzy, for the coal seemed covered and there was hurry in every direction. Men and women, boys and girls, bending to their tasks, were filling shallow saucer-shaped baskets with coal and stacking them eight to ten high in a semi-circle, like coin for delivery. Rising out of these pits sixteen feet up the side of the steamer and along her deck to the chutes leading to her bunkers were what seemed four endless human chains, in service the prototype of our modern conveyors, but here each link animated by its own power. Up these conveyors the loaded buckets passed, one following another at the rate of 40 to 60 per minute, to return empty by the descending line, and over the four chains one hundred tons per hour, for 250 tons of coal passed to the bunkers in two and a half hours. Both men and women stood in the line and at the upper turn of one of these, emptying the buckets down the chute, was a mother with her two-year-old child in the sling on back, where it rocked and swayed to and fro, happy the entire time. It was often necessary for the mother to adjust her baby in the sling whenever it was leaning uncomfortably too far to one side or the other, but she did it skillfully, always with a shrug of the shoulders, for both hands were full. The mother looked strong, was apparently accepting her lot as a matter of course and often, with a smile, turned her face to the child, who patted it and played with her ears and hair. Probably her husband was doing his part in a more strenuous place in the chain and neither had time to be troubled with affinities for it was 10:30 P. M. when the baskets stopped, and somewhere no doubt there was a home to be reached and perhaps supper to get. Shall we be able, when our numbers have vastly increased, to permit all needful earnings to be acquired in a better way?

We left Moji in the early morning and late in the evening of the same day entered the beautiful harbor of Nagasaki, all on board waiting until morning for a launch to go ashore. We were to sail again at noon so available time for observation was short and we set out in a ricksha at once for our first near view of terraced gardening on the steep hillsides in Japan. In reaching them and in returning our course led through streets paved with long, thick and narrow stone blocks, having deep open gutters on one or both sides close along the houses, into which waste water was emptied and through which the storm waters found their way to the sea. Few of these streets were more than twelve feet wide and close watching, with much dodging, was required to make way through them. Here, too, the night soil of the city was being removed in closed receptacles on the shoulders of men, on the backs of horses and cattle and on carts drawn by either. Other men and women were hurrying along with baskets of vegetables well illustrated in Fig. 21, some with fresh cabbage, others with high stacks of crisp lettuce, some with monstrous white radishes or turnips, others with bundles of onions, all coming down from the terraced gardens to the markets. We passed loads of green bamboo poles just cut, three inches in diameter at the butt and twenty feet long, drawn on carts. Both men and women were carrying young children and older ones were playing and singing in the street. Very many old women, some feeble looking, moved, loaded, through the throng. Homely little dogs, an occasional lean cat, and hens and roosters scurried across the street from one low market or store to another. Back of the rows of small stores and shops fronting on the clean narrow streets were the dwellings whose exits seemed to open through the stores, few or no open courts of any size separating them from the market or shop. The opportunity which the oriental housewife may have in the choice of vegetables on going to the market, and the attractive manner of displaying such products in Japan, are seen in Fig. 22.

We finally reached one of the terraced hillsides which rise five hundred to a thousand feet above the harbor with sides so steep that garden areas have a width of seldom more than twenty to thirty feet and often less, while the front of each terrace may be a stone wall, sometimes twelve feet high, often more than six, four and five feet being the most common height. One of these hillside slopes is seen in Fig. 23. These terraced gardens are both short and narrow and most of them bounded by stone walls on three sides, suggesting house foundations, the two end walls sloping down the hill from the height of the back terrace, dropping to the ground level in front, these forming foot-paths leading up the slope occasionally with one, two or three steps in places.

Each terrace sloped slightly down the hill at a small angle and had a low ridge along the front. Around its entire border a narrow drain or furrow was arranged to collect surface water and direct it to drainage channels or into a catch basin where it might be put back on the garden or be used in preparing liquid fertilizer. At one corner of many of these small terraced gardens were cement lined pits, used both as catch basins for water and as receptacles for liquid manure or as places in which to prepare compost. Far up the steep paths, too, along either side, we saw many piles of stable manure awaiting application, all of which had been brought up the slopes in backets on bamboo poles, carried on the shoulders of men and women.



The launch had returned the passengers to the steamer at 11:30; the captain was on the bridge; prompt to the minute at the call “Hoist away” the signal went below and the Yamaguchi’s whistle filled the harbor and over-flowed the hills. The cable wound in, and at twelve, noon, we were leaving Nagasaki, now a city of 153,000 and the western doorway of a nation of fifty-one millions of people but of little importance before the sixteenth century when it became the chief mart of Portuguese trade. We were to pass the Koreans on our right and enter the portals of a third nation of four hundred millions. We had left a country which had added eighty-five millions to its population in one hundred years and which still has twenty acres for each man, woman and child, to pass through one which has but one and a half acres per capita, and were going to another whose allotment of acres, good and bad, is less than 2.4. We had gone from practices by which three generations had exhausted strong virgin fields, and were coming to others still fertile after thirty centuries of cropping. On January 30th we crossed the head waters of the Mississippi-Missouri, four thousand miles from its mouth, and on March 1st were in the mouth of the Yangtse river whose waters are gathered from a basin in which dwell two hundred millions of people.

The Yamaguchi reached Woosung in the night and anchored to await morning and tide before ascending the Hwangpoo, believed by some geographers to be the middle of three earlier delta arms of the Yangtse kiang, the southern entering the sea at Hangchow 120 miles further south, the third being the present stream. As we wound through this great delta plain toward Shanghai, the city of foreign concessions to all nationalities, the first striking feature was the “graves of the fathers”, of “the ancestors”. At first the numerous grass-covered hillocks dotting the plain seemed to be stacks of grain or straw; then came the query whether they might not be huge compost heaps awaiting distribution in the fields, but as the river brought us nearer to them we seemed to be moving through a land of ancient mound builders and Fig. 24 shows, in its upper section, their appearance as seen in the distance.

As the journey led on among the fields, so large were the mounds, often ten to twelve feet high and twenty or more feet at the base; so grass-covered and apparently neglected; so numerous and so irregularly scattered, without apparent regard for fields, that when we were told these were graves we could not give credence to the statement, but before the city was reached we saw places where, by the shifting of the channel, the river had cut into some of these mounds, exposing brick vaults, some so low as to be under water part of the time, and we wonder if the fact does not also record a slow subsidence of the delta plain under the ever increasing load of river silt.

A closer view of these graves in the same delta plain is given in the lower section of Fig. 24, where they are seen in the midst of fields and to occupy not only large areas of valuable land but to be much in the way of agricultural operations. A still closer view of other groups, with a farm village in the background, is shown in the middle section of the same illustration, and here it is better seen how large is the space occupied by them. On the right in the same view may be seen a line of six graves surmounting a common lower base which is a type of the larger and higher ones so suggestive of buildings seen in the horizon of the upper section.

Everywhere we went in China, about all of the very old and large cities, the proportion of grave land to cultivated fields is very large. In the vicinity of Canton Christian college, on Honam island, more than fifty per cent of the land was given over to graves and in many places they were so close that one could step from one to another. They are on the higher and dryer lands, the cultivated areas occupying ravines and the lower levels to which water may be more easily applied and which are the most productive. Hilly lands not so readily cultivated, and especially if within reach of cities, are largely so used, as seen in Fig. 25, where the graves are marked by excavated shelves rather than by mounds, as on the plains. These grave lands are not altogether unproductive for they are generally overgrown with herbage of one or another kind and used as pastures for geese, sheep, goats and cattle, and it is not at all uncommon, when riding along a canal, to see a huge water buffalo projected against the sky from the summit of one of the largest and highest grave mounds within reach. If the herbage is not fed off by animals it is usually cut for feed, for fuel, for green manure or for use in the production of compost to enrich the soil.

Caskets may be placed directly upon the surface of a field, encased in brick vaults with tile roofs, forming such clusters as was seen on the bank of the Grand Canal in Chekiang province, represented in the lower section of Fig. 26, or they may stand singly in the midst of a garden, as in the upper section of the same figure; in a rice paddy entirely surrounded by water parts of the year, and indeed in almost any unexpected place. In Shanghai in 1898, 2,763 exposed coffined corpses were removed outside the International Settlement or buried by the authorities.

Further north, in the Shantung province, where the dry season is more prolonged and where a severe drought had made grass short, the grave lands had become nearly naked soil, as seen in Fig. 27 where a Shantung farmer had just dug a temporary well to irrigate his little field of barley. Within the range of the camera, as held to take this view, more than forty grave mounds besides the seven near by, are near enough to be fixed on the negative and be discernible under a glass, indicating what extensive areas of land, in the aggregate, are given over to graves.

Still further north, in Chihli, a like story is told in, if possible, more emphatic manner and fully vouched for in the next illustration, Fig. 28, which shows a typical family group, to be observed in so many places between Taku and Tientsin and beyond toward Peking. As we entered the mouth of the Pei-ho for Tientsin, far away to the vanishing horizon there stretched an almost naked plain except for the vast numbers of these “graves of the fathers”, so strange, so naked, so regular in form and so numerous that more than an hour of our journey had passed before we realized that they were graves and that the country here was perhaps more densely peopled with the dead than with the living. In so many places there was the huge father grave, often capped with what in the distance suggested a chimney, and the many associated smaller ones, that it was difficult to realize in passing what they were.

It is a common custom, even if the residence has been permanently changed to some distant province, to take the bodies back for interment in the family group; and it is this custom which leads to the practice of choosing a temporary location for the body, waiting for a favorable opportunity to remove it to the family group. This is often the occasion for the isolated coffin so frequently seen under a simple thatch of rice straw, as in Fig. 29; and the many small stone jars containing skeletons of the dead, or portions of them, standing singly or in rows in the most unexpected places least in the way in the crowded fields and gardens, awaiting removal to the final resting place. It is this custom, too, I am told, which has led to placing a large quantity of caustic lime in the bottom of the casket, on which the body rests, this acting as an effective absorbent.

It is the custom in some parts of China, if not in all, to periodically restore the mounds, maintaining their height and size, as is seen in the next two illustrations, and to decorate these once in the year with flying streamers of colored paper, the remnants of which may be seen in both Figs. 30 and 31, set there as tokens that the paper money has been burned upon them and its essence sent up in the smoke for the maintenance of the spirits of their departed friends. We have our memorial day; they have for centuries observed theirs with religious fidelity.

The usual expense of a burial among the working people is said to be $100, Mexican, an enormous burden when the day’s wage or the yearly earning of the family is considered and when there is added to this the yearly expense of ancestor worship. How such voluntary burdens are assumed by people under such circumstances is hard to understand. Missionaries assert it is fear of evil consequences in this life and of punishment and neglect in the hereafter that leads to assuming them. Is it not far more likely that such is the price these people are willing to pay for a good name among the living and because of their deep and lasting friendship for the departed? Nor does it seem at all strange that a kindly, warm-hearted people with strong filial affection should have reached, carry in their long history, a belief in one spirit of the departed which hovers about the home, one which hovers about the grave and another which wanders abroad, for surely there are associations with each of these conditions which must long and forcefully awaken memories of friends gone. If this view is possible may not such ancestral worship be an index of qualities of character strongly fixed and of the highest worth which, when improvements come that may relieve the heavy burdens now carried, will only shine more brightly and count more for right living as well as comfort?

Even in our own case it will hardly be maintained that our burial customs have reached their best and final solution, for in all civilized nations they are unnecessarily expensive and far too cumbersome. It is only necessary to mentally add the accumulation of a few centuries to our cemeteries to realize how impossible our practice must become. Clearly there is here a very important line for betterment which all nationalities should undertake.

When the steamer anchored at Shanghai the day was pleasant and the rain coats which greeted us in Yokohama were not in evidence but the numbers who had met the steamer in the hope of an opportunity for earning a trifle was far greater and in many ways in strong contrast with the Japanese. We were much surprised to find the men of so large stature, much above the Chinese usually seen in the United States. They were fully the equal of large Americans in frame but quite without surplus flesh yet few appeared underfed. To realize that these are strong, hardy men it was only necessary to watch them carrying on their shoulders bales of cotton between them, supported by a strong bamboo; while the heavy loads they transport on wheel-barrows through the country over long distances, as seen in Fig. 32, prove their great endurance. This same type of vehicle, too, is one of the common means of transporting people, especially Chinese women, and four six and even eight may be seen riding together, propelled by a single wheelbarrow man.



We had come to learn how the old-world farmers bad been able to provide materials for food and clothing on such small areas for so many millions, at so low a price, during so many centuries, and were anxious to see them at the soil and among the crops. The sun was still south of the equator, coming north only about twelve miles per day, so, to save time, we booked on the next steamer for Hongkong to meet spring at Canton, beyond the Tropic of Cancer, six hundred miles farther south, and return with her.

On the morning of March 4th the Tosa Maru steamed out into the Yangtse river, already flowing with the increased speed of ebb tide. The pilots were on the bridge to guide her course along the narrow south channel through waters seemingly as brown and turbid as the Potomac after a rain. It was some distance beyond Gutzlaff Island, seventy miles to sea, where there is a lighthouse and a telegraph station receiving six cables, that we crossed the front of the out-going tide, showing in a sharp line of contrast stretching in either direction farther than the eye could see, across the course of the ship and yet it was the season of low water in this river. During long ages this stream of mighty volume has been loading upon itself in far-away Tibet, without dredge, barge, fuel or human effort, unused and there unusable soils, bringing them down from inaccessible heights across two or three thousand miles, building up with them, from under the sea, at the gateways of commerce, miles upon miles of the world’s most fertile fields and gardens. Today on this river, winding through six hundred miles of the most highly cultivated fields, laid out on river-built plains, go large ocean steamers to the city of Hankow-Wuchang-Hanyang where 1,770,000 people live and trade within a radius less than four miles; while smaller steamers push on a thousand miles and are then but 130 feet above sea level.

Even now, with the aid of current, tide and man, these brown turbid waters are rapidly adding fertile delta plains for new homes. During the last twenty-five years Chungming island has grown in length some 1800 feet per year and today a million people are living and growing rice, wheat, cotton and sweet potatoes on 270 square miles of fertile plain where five hundred years ago were only submerged river sands and silt. Here 3700 people per square mile have acquired homes.

The southward voyage was over a quiet sea and as we passed among and near the off-shore islands these, as seen in Japan, appeared destitute of vegetation other than the low herbaceous types with few shrubs and almost no forest growth and little else that gave the appearance of green. Captain Harrison informed me that at no time in the year are these islands possessed of the grass-green verdure so often seen in northern climates, and yet the islands lie in a region of abundant summer rain, making it hard to understand why there is not a more luxuriant growth.

Sunday morning, March 7th, passing first extensive sugar refineries, found us entering the long, narrow and beautiful harbor of Hongkong. Here, lying at anchor in the ten square miles of water, were five battleships, several large ocean steamers, many coastwise vessels and a multitude of smaller craft whose yearly tonnage is twenty to thirty millions. But the harbor lies in the track of the terrible East Indian typhoon and, although sheltered on the north shore of a high island, one of these storms recently sunk nine vessels, sent twenty-three ashore, seriously damaged twenty-one others, wrought great destruction among the smaller craft and over a thousand dead were recovered. Such was the destruction wrought by the September storm of 1906.

Our steamer did not go to dock but the Nippon Yusen Kaisha’s launch transferred us to a city much resembling Seattle in possessing a scant footing between a long sea front and high steep mountain slopes behind. Here cliffs too steep to climb rise from the very sidewalk and are covered with a great profusion and variety of ferns, small bamboo, palms, vines, many flowering shrubs, all interspersed with pine and great banyan trees that do so much toward adding the beauty of northern landscapes to the tropical features which reach upward until hidden in a veil of fog that hung, all of the time we were there, over the city, over the harbor and stretched beyond Old and New Kowloon.

Hongkong island is some eleven miles long and but two to five miles wide, while the peak carrying the signal staff rises 1,825 feet above the streets from which ascends the Peak tramway, where, hanging from opposite ends of a strong cable, one car rises up the slope and another descends every fifteen to twenty minutes, affording communication with business houses below and homes in beautiful surroundings and a tempered climate above. Extending along the slopes of the mountains, too, above the city, are very excellent roads, carefully graded, provided with concrete gutters and bridges, along which one may travel on foot, on horseback, by ricksha or sedan chair, but too narrow for carriages. Over one of these we ascended along one side of Happy Valley, around its head and down the other side. Only occasionally could we catch glimpses of the summit through the lifting fog but the views, looking down and across the city and beyond the harbor with its shipping, and up and down the many ravines from via-ducts, are among the choicest and rarest ever made accessible to the residents of any city. It was the beginning of the migratory season for birds, and trees and shrubbery thronged with many species.

Many of the women in Hongkong were seen engaged in such heavy manual labor with the men as carrying crushed rock and sand, for concrete and macadam work, up the steep street slopes long distances from the dock, but they were neither tortured nor incapacitated by bound feet. Like the men, they were of smaller stature than most seen at Shanghai and closely resemble the Chinese in the United States. Both sexes are agile, wiry and strong. Here we first saw lumber sawing in the open streets after the manner shown in Fig. 33, where wide boards were being cut from camphor logs. In the damp, already warm weather the men were stripped to the waist, their limbs bare to above the knee, and each carried a large towel for wiping away the profuse perspiration.

It was here, too, that we first met the remarkable staging for the erection of buildings of four and six stories, set up without saw, hammer or nail; without injury to or waste of lumber and with the minimum of labor in construction and removal. Poles and bamboo stems were lashed together with overlapping ends, permitting any interval or height to be secured without cutting or nailing, and admitting of ready removal with absolutely no waste, all parts being capable of repeated use unless it be some of the materials employed in tying members. Up inclined stairways, from staging to staging, in the erection of six-story granite buildings, mortar was being carried in baskets swinging from bamboo poles on the shoulders of men and women, as the cheapest hoists available in English Hongkong where there is willing human labor and to spare.

The Singer sewing machine, manufactured in New Jersey, was seen in many Chinese shops in Hongkong and other cities, operated by Chinese men and women, purchased, freight prepaid, at two-thirds the retail price in the United States. Such are the indications of profit to manufacturers on the home sale of home-made goods while at the same time reaping good returns from a large trade in heathen lands, after paying the freight.

Industrial China, Korea and Japan do not observe our weekly day of rest and during our walk around Happy Valley on Sunday afternoon, looking down upon its terraced gardens and tiny fields, we saw men and women busy fitting the soil for new crops, gathering vegetables for market, feeding plants with liquid manure and even irrigating certain crops, notwithstanding the damp, foggy, showery weather. Turning the head of the valley, attention was drawn to a walled enclosure and a detour down the slope brought us to a florist’s garden within which were rows of large potted foliage plants of semi-shrubbery habit, seen in Fig. 35, trained in the form of life-size human figures with limbs, arms and trunk provided with highly glazed and colored porcelain feet, hands and head. These, with many other potted plants and trees, including dwarf varieties, are grown under out-door lattice shelters in different parts of China, for sale to the wealthy Chinese families.

How thorough is the tillage, how efficient and painstaking the garden fitting, and how closely the ground is crowded to its upper limit of producing power are indicated in Fig. 36; and when one stops and studies the detail in such gardens he expects in its executor an orderly, careful, frugal and industrious man, getting not a little satisfaction out of his creations however arduous his task or prolonged his day. If he is in the garden or one meets him at the house, clad as the nature of his duties and compensation have determined, you may be disappointed or feel arising an unkind judgment. But who would risk a reputation so clad and so environed? Many were the times, during our walks in the fields and gardens among these old, much misunderstood, misrepresented and undervalued people, when the bond of common interest was recognized between us, that there showed through the face the spirit which put aside both dress and surroundings and the man stood forth who, with fortitude and rare wisdom, is feeding the millions and who has carried through centuries the terrible burden of taxes levied by dishonor and needless wars. Nay, more than this, the man stood forth who has kept alive the seeds of manhood and has nourished them into such sturdy stock as has held the stream of progress along the best interests of civilization in spite of the driftwood heaped upon it.

Not only are these people extremely careful and painstaking in fitting their fields and gardens to receive the crop, but they are even more scrupulous in their care to make everything that can possibly serve as fertilizer for the soil, or food for the crop being grown, do so unless there is some more remunerative service it may render. Expense is incurred to provide such receptacles as are seen in Fig. 37 for receiving not only the night soil of the home and that which may be bought or otherwise procured, but in which may be stored any other fluid which can serve as plant food. On the right of these earthenware jars too is a pile of ashes and one of manure. All such materials are saved and used in the most advantageous ways to enrich the soil or to nourish the plants being grown.

Generally the liquid manures must be diluted with water to a greater or less extent before they are “fed”, as the Chinese say, to their plants, hence there is need of an abundant and convenient water supply. One of these is seen in Fig. 38, where the Chinaman has adopted the modern galvanized iron pipe to bring water from the mountain slope of Happy Valley to his garden. By the side of this tank are the covered pails in which the night soil was brought, perhaps more than a mile, to be first diluted and then applied. But the more general method for supplying water is that of leading it along the ground in channels or ditches to a small reservoir in one corner of a terraced field or garden, as seen in Fig. 39, where it is held and the surplus led down from terrace to terrace, giving each its permanent supply. At the upper right corner of the engraving may be seen two manure receptacles and a third stands near the reservoir. The plants on the lower terrace are water cress and those above the same. At this time of the year, on the terraced gardens of Happy Valley, this is one of the crops most extensively grown.

Walking among these gardens and isolated homes, we passed a pig pen provided with a smooth, well-laid stone floor that had just been washed scrupulously clean, like the floor of a house. While I was not able to learn other facts regarding this case, I have little doubt that the washings from this floor had been carefully collected and taken to some receptacle to serve as a plant food.

Looking backward as we left Hongkong for Canton on the cloudy evening of March 8th, the view was wonderfully beautiful. We were drawing away from three cities, one, electric-lighted Hongkong rising up the steep slopes, suggesting a section of sky set with a vast array of stars of all magnitudes up to triple Jupiters; another, old and new Kowloon on the opposite side of the harbor; and between these two, separated from either shore by wide reaches of wholly unoccupied water, lay the third, a mid-strait city of sampans, junks and coastwise craft of many kinds segregated, in obedience to police regulation, into blocks and streets with each setting sun, but only to scatter again with the coming morn. At night, after a fixed hour, no one is permitted to leave shore and cross the vacant water strip except from certain piers and with the permission of the police, who take the number of the sampan and the names of its occupants. Over the harbor three large search lights were sweeping and it was curious to see the junks and other craft suddenly burst into full blazes of light, like so many monstrous fire-flies, to disappear and reappear as the lights came and went. Thus is the mid-strait city lighted and policed and thus have steps been taken to lessen the number of cases of foul play where people have left the wharves at night for some vessel in the strait, never to be heard from again.

Some ninety miles is the distance by water to Canton, and early the next morning our steamer dropped anchor off the foreign settlement of Shameen. Through the kindness of Consul-General Amos P. Wilder in sending a telegram to the Canton Christian College, their little steam launch met the boat and took us directly to the home of the college on Honam Island, lying in the great delta south of the city where sediments brought by the Si-kiang—west, Pei-kiang—north, and Tung-kiang—east—rivers through long centuries have been building the richest of land which, because of the density of population, are squared up everywhere to the water’s edge and appropriated as fast as formed, and made to bring forth materials for food fuel and raiment in vast quantities.

It was on Honam Island that we walked first among the grave lands and came to know them as such, for Canton Christian College stands in the midst of graves which, although very old, are not permitted to be disturbed and the development of the campus must wait to secure permission to remove graves, or erect its buildings in places not the most desirable. Cattle were grazing among the graves and with them a flock of some 250 of the brown Chinese geese, two-thirds grown, was watched by boys, gleaning their entire living from the grave lands and adjacent water. A mature goose sells in Canton for $1.20, Mexican, or less than 52 cents, gold, but even then how can the laborer whose day’s wage is but ten or fifteen cents afford one for his family? Here, too, we saw the Chinese persistent, never-ending industry in keeping their land, their sunshine and their rain, with themselves, busy in producing something needful. Fields which had matured two crops of rice during the long summer, had been laboriously, and largely by hand labor, thrown into strong ridges as seen in Fig. 40, to permit still a third winter crop of some vegetable to be taken from the land.

But this intensive, continuous cropping of the land spells soil exhaustion and creates demands for maintenance and restoration of available plant food or the adding of large quantities of something quickly convertible into it, and so here in the fields on Honam Island, as we had found in Happy Valley, there was abundant evidence of the most careful attention and laborious effort devoted to plant feeding. The boat standing in the canal in Fig. 41 had come from Canton in the early morning with two tons of human manure and men were busy applying it, in diluted form, to beds of leeks at the rate of 16,000 gallons per acre, all carried on the shoulders in such pails as stand in the foreground. The material is applied with long-handled dippers holding a gallon, dipping it from the pails, the men wading, with bare feet and trousers rolled above the knees, in the water of the furrows between the beds. This is one of their ways of “feeding the crop,” and they have other methods of “manuring the soil.”

One of these we first met on Honam Island. Large amounts of canal mud are here collected in boats and brought to the fields to be treated and there left to drain and dry before distributing. Both the material used to feed the crop and that used for manuring the land are waste products, hindrances to the industry of the region, but the Chinese make them do essential duty in maintaining its life. The human waste must be disposed of. They return it to the soil. We turn it into the sea. Doing so, they save for plant feeding more than a ton of phosphorus (2712 pounds) and more than two tons of potassium (4488 pounds) per day for each million of adult population. The mud collects in their canals and obstructs movement. They must be kept open. The mud is highly charged with organic matter and would add humus to the soil if applied to the fields, at the same time raising their level above the river and canal, giving them better drainage; thus are they turning to use what is otherwise waste, causing the labor which must be expended in disposal to count in a remunerative way.

During the early morning ride to Canton Christian College and three others which we were permitted to enjoy in the launch on the canal and river waters, everything was again strange, fascinating and full of human interest. The Cantonese water population was a surprise, not so much for its numbers as for the lithe, sinewy forms, bright eyes and cheerful faces, particularly among the women, young and old. Nearly always one or more women, mother and daughter oftenest, grandmother many times, wrinkled, sometimes grey, but strong, quick and vigorous in motion, were manning the oars of junks, houseboats and sampans. Sometimes husband and wife and many times the whole family were seen together when the craft was both home and business boat as well. Little children were gazing from most unexpected peek holes, or they toddled tethered from a waist belt at the end of as much rope as would arrest them above water, should they go overboard. And the cat was similarly tied. Through an overhanging latticed stern, too, hens craned their necks, longing for scenes they could not reach. With bare heads, bare feet, in short trousers and all dressed much alike, men, women, boys and girls showed equal mastery of the oar. Beginning so young, day and night in the open air on the tide-swept streams and canals, exposed to all of the sunshine the fogs and clouds will permit, and removed from the dust and filth of streets, it would seem that if the children survive at all they must develop strong. The appearance of the women somehow conveyed the impression that they were more vigorous and in better fettle than the men.

Boats selling many kinds of steaming hot dishes were common. Among these was rice tied in green leaf wrappers, three small packets in a cluster suspended by a strand of some vegetable fiber, to be handed hot from the cooker to the purchaser, some one on a passing junk or on an in-coming or out-going boat. Another would buy hot water for a brew of tea, while still another, and for a single cash, might be handed a small square of cotton cloth, wrung hot from the water, with which to wipe his face and hands and then be returned.

Perhaps nothing better measures the intensity of the maintenance struggle here, and better indicates the minute economies practiced, than the value of their smallest currency unit, the Cash, used in their daily retail transactions. On our Pacific coast, where less thought is given to little economies than perhaps anywhere else in the world, the nickel is the smallest coin in general use, twenty to the dollar. For the rest of the United States and in most English speaking countries one hundred cents or half pennies measure an equal value. In Russia 170 kopecks, in Mexico 200 centavos, in France 250 two-centime pieces, and in Austria-Hungary 250 two-heller coins equal the United States dollar; while in Germany 400 pfennigs, and in India 400 pie are required for an equal value. Again 500 penni in Finland and of stotinki in Bulgaria, of centesimi in Italy and of half cents in Holland equal our dollar; but in China the small daily financial transactions are measured against a much smaller unit, their Cash, 1500 to 2000 of which are required to equal the United States dollar, their purchasing power fluctuating daily with the price of silver.

In the Shantung province, when we inquired of the farmers the selling prices of their crops, their replies were given like this: “Thirty-five strings of cash for 420 catty of wheat and twelve to fourteen strings of cash for 1000 catty of wheat straw.” At this time, according to my interpreter, the value of one string of cash was 40 cents Mexican, from which it appears that something like 250 of these coins were threaded on a string. Twice we saw a wheelbarrow heavily loaded with strings of cash being transported through the streets of Shanghai, lying exposed on the frame, suggesting chains of copper more than money. At one of the go-downs or warehouses in Tsingtao, where freight was being transferred from a steamer, the carriers were receiving their pay in these coin. The pay-master stood in the doorway with half a bushel of loose cash in a grain sack at his feet. With one hand he received the bamboo tally-sticks from the stevedores and with the other paid the cash for service rendered.

Reference has been made to buying hot water. In a sampan managed by a woman and her daughter, who took us ashore, the middle section of the boat was furnished in the manner of a tiny sitting-room, and on the sideboard sat the complete embodiment of our fireless cookers, keeping boiled water hot for making tea. This device and the custom are here centuries old and throughout these countries boiled water, as tea, is the universal drink, adopted no doubt as a preventive measure against typhoid fever and allied diseases. Few vegetables are eaten raw and nearly all foods are taken hot or recently cooked if not in some way pickled or salted. Houseboat meat shops move among the many junks on the canals. These were provided with a compartment communicating freely with the canal water where the fish were kept alive until sold. At the street markets too, fish are kept alive in large tubs of water systematically aerated by the water falling from an elevated receptacle in a thin stream. A live fish may even be sliced before the eyes of a purchaser and the unsold portion returned to the water. Poultry is largely retailed alive although we saw much of it dressed and cooked to a uniform rich brown, apparently roasted, hanging exposed in the markets of the very narrow streets in Canton, shaded from the hot sun under awnings admitting light overhead through translucent oyster-shell latticework. Perhaps these fowl had been cooked in hot oil and before serving would be similarly heated. At any rate it is perfectly clear that among these people many very fundamental sanitary practices are rigidly observed.

One fact which we do not fully understand is that, wherever we went, house flies were very few. We never spent a summer with so little annoyance from them as this one in China, Korea and Japan. It may be that our experience was exceptional but, if so, it could not be ascribed to the season of our visit for we have found flies so numerous in southern Florida early in April as to make the use of the fly brush at the table very necessary. If the scrupulous husbanding of waste refuse so universally practiced in these countries reduces the fly nuisance and this menace to health to the extent which our experience suggests, here is one great gain. We breed flies in countless millions each year, until they become an intolerable nuisance, and then expend millions of dollars on screens and fly poison which only ineffectually lessen the intensity and danger of the evil.

The mechanical appliances in use on the canals and in the shops of Canton demonstrate that the Chinese possess constructive ability of a high order, notwithstanding so many of these are of the simplest forms. This statement is well illustrated in the simple yet efficient foot-power seen in Fig. 42, where a father and his two sons are driving an irrigation pump, lifting water at the rate of seven and a half acre-inches per ten hours, and at a cost, including wage and food, of 36 to 45 cents, gold. Here, too, were large stern-wheel passenger boats, capable of carrying thirty to one hundred people, propelled by the same foot-power but laid crosswise of the stern, the men working in long single or double lines, depending on the size of the boat. On these the fare was one cent, gold, for a fifteen mile journey, a rate one-thirtieth our two-cent railway tariff. The dredging and clearing of the canals and water channels in and about Canton is likewise accomplished with the same foot-power, often by families living on the dredge boats. A dipper dredge is used, constructed of strong bamboo strips woven into the form of a sliding, two-horse road scraper, guided by a long bamboo handle. The dredge is drawn along the bottom by a rope winding about the projecting axle of the foot-power, propelled by three or more people. When the dipper reaches the axle and is raised from the water it is swung aboard, emptied and returned by means of a long arm like the old well sweep, operated by a cord depending from the lower end of the lever, the dipper swinging from the other. Much of the mud so collected from the canals and channels of the city is taken to the rice and mulberry fields, many square miles of which occupy the surrounding country. Thus the channels are kept open, the fields grow steadily higher above flood level, while their productive power is maintained by the plant food and organic matter carried in the sediment.

The mechanical principle involved in the boy’s button buzz was applied in Canton and in many other places for operating small drills as well as in grinding and polishing appliances used in the manufacture of ornamental ware. The drill, as used for boring metal, is set in a straight shaft, often of bamboo, on the upper end of which is mounted a circular weight. The drill is driven by a pair of strings with one end attached just beneath the momentum weight and the other fastened at the ends of a cross hand-bar, having a hole at its center through which the shaft carrying the drill passes. Holding the drill in position for work and turning the shaft, the two cords are wrapped about it in such a manner that simple downward pressure on the hand bar held in the two hands unwinds the cords and thus revolves the drill. Relieving the pressure at the proper time permits the momentum of the revolving weight to rewind the cords and the next downward pressure brings the drill again into service.



On the morning of March 10th we took passage on the Nanning for Wuchow, in Kwangsi province, a journey of 220 miles up the West river, or Sikiang. The Nanning is one of two English steamers making regular trips between the two places, and it was the sister boat which in the summer of 1906 was attacked by pirates on one of her trips and all of the officers and first class passengers killed while at dinner. The cause of this attack, it is said, or the excuse for it, was threatened famine resulting from destructive floods which had ruined the rice and mulberry crops of the great delta region and had prevented the carrying of manure and bean cake as fertilizers to the tea fields in the hill lands beyond, thus bringing ruin to three of the great staple crops of the region. To avoid the recurrence of such tragedies the first class quarters on the Nanning had been separated from the rest of the ship by heavy iron gratings thrown across the decks and over the hatchways. Armed guards stood at the locked gateways, and swords were hanging from posts under the awnings of the first cabin quarters, much as saw and ax in our passenger coaches. Both British and Chinese gunboats were patrolling the river; all Chinese passengers were searched for concealed weapons as they came aboard, even though Government soldiers, and all arms taken into custody until the end of the journey. Several of the large Chinese merchant junks which were passed, carrying valuable cargoes on the river, were armed with small cannon and when riding by rail from Canton to Sam Shui, a government pirate detective was in our coach.

The Sikiang is one of the great rivers of China and indeed of the world. Its width at Wuchow at low water was nearly a mile and our steamer anchored in twenty-four feet of water to a floating dock made fast by huge iron chains reaching three hundred feet up the slope to the city proper, thus providing for a rise of twenty-six feet in the river at its flood stage during the rainy season. In a narrow section of river where it winds through Shui Hing gorge, the water at low stage has a depth of more than twenty-five fathoms, too deep for anchorage, so in times of prospective fog, boats wait for clearing weather. Fluctuations in the height of the river limit vessels passing up to Wuchow to those drawing six and a half feet of water during the low stage, and at high stage to those drawing sixteen feet.

When the West river emerges from the high lands, with its burden of silt, to join its waters with those of the North and East rivers, it has entered a vast delta plain some eighty miles from east to west and nearly as many from north to south, and this has been canalized, diked, drained and converted into the most productive of fields, bearing three or more crops each year. As we passed westward through this delta region the broad flat fields, surrounded by dikes to protect them against high water, were being plowed and fitted for the coming crop of rice. In many places the dikes which checked off the fields were planted with bananas and in the distance gave the appearance of extensive orchards completely occupying the ground. Except for the water and the dikes it was easy to imagine that we were traversing one of our western prairie sections in the early spring, at seeding time, the scattered farm villages here easily suggested distant farmsteads; but a nearer approach to the houses showed that the roofs and sides were thatched with rice straw and stacks were very numerous about the buildings. Many tide gates were set in the dikes, often with double trunks.

At times we approached near enough to the fields to see how they were laid out. From the gates long canals, six to eight feet wide, led back sometimes eighty or a hundred rods. Across these and at right angles, head channels were cut and between them the fields were plowed in long straight lands some two rods wide, separated by water furrows. Many of the fields were bearing sugar cane standing eight feet high. The Chinese do no sugar refining but boil the sap until it will solidify, when it is run into cakes resembling chocolate or our brown maple sugar. Immense quantities of sugar cane, too, are exported to the northern provinces, in bundles wrapped with matting or other cover, for the retail markets where it is sold, the canes being cut in short sections and sometimes peeled, to be eaten from the hands as a confection.

Much of the way this water-course was too broad to permit detailed study of field conditions and crops, even with a glass. In such sections the recent dikes often have the appearance of being built from limestone blocks but a closer view showed them constructed from blocks of the river silt cut and laid in walls with slightly sloping faces. In time however the blocks weather and the dikes become rounded earthen walls.

We passed two men in a boat, in charge of a huge flock of some hundreds of yellow ducklings. Anchored to the bank was a large houseboat provided with an all-around, over-hanging rim and on board was a stack of rice straw and other things which constituted the floating home of the ducks. Both ducks and geese are reared in this manner in large numbers by the river population. When it is desired to move to another feeding ground a gang plank is put ashore and the flock come on board to remain for the night or to be landed at another place.

About five hours journey westward in this delta plain, where the fields lie six to ten feet above the present water stage, we reached the mulberry district. Here the plants are cultivated in rows about four feet apart, having the habit of small shrubs rather than of trees, and so much resembling cotton that our first impression was that we were in an extensive cotton district. On the lower lying areas, surrounded by dikes, some fields were laid out in the manner of the old Italian or English water meadows, with a shallow irrigation furrow along the crest of the bed and much deeper drainage ditches along the division line between them. Mulberries were occupying the ground before the freshly cut trenches we saw were dug, and all the surface between the rows had been evenly overlaid with the fresh earth removed with the spade, the soil lying in blocks essentially unbroken. In Fig. 43 may be seen the mulberry crop on a similarly treated surface, between Canton and Samshui, with the earth removed from the trenches laid evenly over the entire surface between and around the plants, as it came from the spade.

At frequent intervals along the river, paths and steps were seen leading to the water and within a distance of a quarter of a mile we counted thirty-one men and women carrying mud in baskets on bamboo poles swung across their shoulders, the mud being taken from just above the water line. The disposition of this material we could not see as it was carried beyond a rise in ground. We have little doubt that the mulberry fields were being covered with it. It was here that a rain set in and almost like magic the fields blossomed out with great numbers of giant rain hats and kittysols, where people had been unobserved before. From one o’clock until six in the afternoon we had traveled continuously through these mulberry fields stretching back miles from our line of travel on either hand, and the total acreage must have been very large. But we had now nearly reached the margin of the delta and the mulberries changed to fields of grain, beans, peas and vegetables.

After leaving the delta region the balance of the journey to Wuchow was through a hill country, the slopes rising steeply from near the river bank, leaving relatively little tilled or readily tillable land. Rising usually five hundred to a thousand feet, the sides and summits of the rounded, soil-covered hills were generally clothed with a short herbaceous growth and small scattering trees, oftenest pine, four to sixteen feet high, Fig. 44 being a typical landscape of the region.

In several sections along the course of this river there are limited areas of intense erosion where naked gulleys of no mean magnitude have developed but these were exceptions and we were continually surprised at the remarkable steepness of the slopes, with convexly rounded contours almost everywhere, well mantled with soil, devoid of gulleys and completely covered with herbaceous growth dotted with small trees. The absence of forest growth finds its explanation in human influence rather than natural conditions.

Throughout the hill-land section of this mighty river the most characteristic and persistent human features were the stacks of brush-wood and the piles of stove wood along the banks or loaded upon boats and barges for the market. The brush-wood was largely made from the boughs of pine, tied into bundles and stacked like grain. The stove wood was usually round, peeled and made from the limbs and trunks of trees two to five inches in diameter. All this fuel was coming to the river from the back country, sent down along steep slides which in the distance resemble paths leading over hills but too steep for travel. The fuel was loaded upon large barges, the boughs in the form of stacks to shed rain but with a tunnel leading into the house of the boat about which they were stacked, while the wood was similarly corded about the dwelling, as seen in Fig. 44. The wood was going to Canton and other delta cities while the pine boughs were taken to the lime and cement kilns, many of which were located along the river. Absolutely the whole tree, including the roots and the needles, is saved and burned; no waste is permitted.

The up-river cargo of the Nanning was chiefly matting rush, taken on at Canton, tied in bundles like sheaves of wheat. It is grown upon the lower, newer delta lands by methods of culture similar to those applied to rice, Fig. 45 showing a field as seen in Japan.

The rushes were being taken to one of the country villages on a tributary of the Sikiang and the steamer was met by a flotilla of junks from this village, some forty-five miles up the stream, where the families live who do the weaving. On the return trip the flotilla again met the steamer with a cargo of the woven matting. In keeping record of packages transferred the Chinese use a simple and unique method. Each carrier, with his two bundles, received a pair of tally sticks. At the gang-plank sat a man with a tally-case divided into twenty compartments, each of which could receive five, but no more, tallies. As the bundles left the steamer the tallies were placed in the tally-case until it contained one hundred, when it was exchanged for another.

Wuchow is a city of some 65,000 inhabitants, standing back on the higher ground, not readily visible from the steamer landing nor from the approach on the river. On the foreground, across which stretched the anchor chains of the dock, was living a floating population, many in shelters less substantial than Indian wigwams, but engaged in a great variety of work, and many water buffalo had been tied for the night along the anchor chains. Before July much of this area would lie beneath the flood waters of the Sikiang.

Here a ship builder was using his simple, effective bow-brace, boring holes for the dowel pins in the planking for his ship, and another was bending the plank to the proper curvature. The bow-brace consisted of a bamboo stalk carrying the bit at one end and a shoulder rest at the other. Pressing the bit to its work with the shoulder, it was driven with the string of a long bow wrapped once around the stalk by drawing the bow back and forth, thus rapidly and readily revolving the bit.

The bending of the long, heavy plank, four inches thick and eight inches wide, was more simple still, It was saturated with water and one end raised on a support four feet above the ground. A bundle of burning rice straw moved along the under side against the wet wood had the effect of steaming the wood and the weight of the plank caused it to gradually bend into the shape desired. Bamboo poles are commonly bent or straightened in this manner to suit any need and Fig. 46 shows a wooden fork shaped in the manner described from a small tree having three main branches. This fork is in the hands of my interpreter and was used by the woman standing at the right, in turning wheat.

When the old ship builder had finished shaping his plank he sat down on the ground for a smoke. His pipe was one joint of bamboo stem a foot long, nearly two inches in diameter and open at one end. In the closed end, at one side, a small hole was bored for draft. A charge of tobacco was placed in the bottom, the lips pressed into the open end and the pipe lighted by suction, holding a lighted match at the small opening. To enjoy his pipe the bowl rested on the ground between his legs. With his lips in the bowl and a long breath, he would completely fill his lungs, retaining the smoke for a time, then slowly expire and fill the lungs again, after an interval of natural breathing.

On returning to Canton we went by rail, with an interpreter, to Samshui, visiting fields along the way, and Fig. 47 is a view of one landscape. The woman was picking roses among tidy beds of garden vegetables. Beyond her and in front of the near building are two rows of waste receptacles. In the center background is a large “go-down”, in function that of our cold storage warehouse and in part that of our grain elevator for rice. In them, too, the wealthy store their fur-lined winter garments for safe keeping. These are numerous in this portion of China and the rank of a city is indicated by their number. The conical hillock is a large near-by grave mound and many others serrate the sky line on the hill beyond.

In the next landscape, Fig. 48, a crop of winter peas, trained to canes, are growing on ridges among the stubble of the second crop of rice, In front is one canal, the double ridge behind is another and a third canal extends in front of the houses. Already preparations were being made for the first crop of rice, fields were being flooded and fertilized. One such is seen in Fig. 49, where a laborer was engaged at the time in bringing stable manure, wading into the water to empty the baskets.

Two crops of rice are commonly grown each year in southern China and during the winter and early spring, grain, cabbage, rape, peas, beans, leeks and ginger may occupy the fields as a third or even fourth crop, making the total year’s product from the land very large; but the amount of thought, labor and fertilizers given to securing these is even greater and beyond anything Americans will endure. How great these efforts are will be appreciated from what is seen in Fig. 50, representing two fields thrown into high ridges, planted to ginger and covered with straw. All of this work is done by hand and when the time for rice planting comes every ridge will again be thrown down and the surface smoothed to a water level. Even when the ridges and beds are not thrown down for the crops of rice, the furrows and the beds will change places so that all the soil is worked over deeply and mainly through hand labor. The statement so often made, that these people only barely scratch the surface of their fields with the crudest of tools is very far from the truth, for their soils are worked deeply and often, notwithstanding the fact that their plowing, as such, may be shallow.

Through Dr. John Blumann of the missionary hospital at Tungkun, east from Canton, we learned that the good rice lands there a few years ago sold at $75 to $130 per acre but that prices are rising rapidly. The holdings of the better class of farmers there are ten to fifteen mow—one and two-thirds to two and a half acres—upon which are maintained families numbering six to twelve. The day’s wage of a carpenter or mason is eleven to thirteen cents of our currency, and board is not included, but a day’s ration for a laboring man is counted worth fifteen cents, Mexican, or less than seven cents, gold.

Fish culture is practiced in both deep and shallow basins, the deep permanent ones renting as high as $30 gold, per acre. The shallow basins which can be drained in the dry season are used for fish only during the rainy period, being later drained and planted to some crop. The permanent basins have often come to be ten or twelve feet deep, increasing with long usage, for they are periodically drained by pumping and the foot or two of mud which has accumulated, removed and sold as fertilizer to planters of rice and other crops. It is a common practice, too, among the fish growers, to fertilize the ponds, and in case a foot path leads alongside, screens are built over the water to provide accommodation for travelers. Fish reared in the better fertilized ponds bring a higher price in the market. The fertilizing of the water favors a stronger growth of food forms, both plant and animal, upon which the fish live and they are better nourished, making a more rapid growth, giving their flesh better qualities, as is the case with well fed animals.

In the markets where fish are exposed for sale they are often sliced in halves lengthwise and the cut surface smeared with fresh blood. In talking with Dr. Blumann as to the reason for this practice he stated that the Chinese very much object to eating meat that is old or tainted and that he thought the treatment simply had the effect of making the fish look fresher. I question whether this treatment with fresh blood may not have a real antiseptic effect and very much doubt that people so shrewd as the Chinese would be misled by such a ruse.



On the evening of March 15th we left Canton for Hongkong and the following day embarked again on the Tosa Maru for Shanghai. Although our steamer stood so far to sea that we were generally out of sight of land except for some off-shore islands, the water was turbid most of the way after we had crossed the Tropic of Cancer off the mouth of the Han river at Swatow. Over a sea bottom measuring more than six hundred miles northward along the coast, and perhaps fifty miles to sea, unnumbered acre-feet of the richest soil of China are being borne beyond the reach of her four hundred millions of people and the children to follow them. Surely it must be one of the great tasks of future statesmanship, education and engineering skill to divert larger amounts of such sediments close along inshore in such manner as to add valuable new land annually to the public domain, not alone in China but in all countries where large resources of this type are going to waste.

In the vast Cantonese delta plains which we had just left, in the still more extensive ones of the Yangtse kiang to which we were now going, and in those of the shifting Hwang ho further north, centuries of toiling millions have executed works of almost incalculable magnitude, fundamentally along such lines as those just suggested. They have accomplished an enormous share of these tasks by sheer force of body and will, building levees, digging canals, diverting the turbid waters of streams through them and then carrying the deposits of silt and organic growth out upon the fields, often borne upon the shoulders of men in the manner we have seen.

It is well nigh impossible, by word or map, to convey an adequate idea of the magnitude of the systems of canalization and delta and other lowland reclamation work, or of the extent of surface fitting of fields which have been effected in China, Korea and Japan through the many centuries, and which are still in progress. The lands so reclaimed and fitted constitute their most enduring asset and they support their densest populations. In one of our journeys by houseboat on the delta canals between Shanghai and Hangchow, in China, over a distance of 117 miles, we made a careful record of the number and dimensions of lateral canals entering and leaving the main one along which our boat-train was traveling. This record shows that in 62 miles, beginning north of Kashing and extending south to Hangchow, there entered from the west 134 and there left on the coast side 190 canals. The average width of these canals, measured along the water line, we estimated at 22 and 19 feet respectively on the two sides. The height of the fields above the water level ranged from four to twelve feet, during the April and May stage of water. The depth of water, after we entered the Grand Canal, often exceeded six feet and our best judgment would place the average depth of all canals in this part of China at more than eight feet below the level of the fields.

In Fig. 51, representing an area of 718 square miles in the region traversed, all lines shown are canals, but scarcely more than one-third of those present are shown on the map. Between A, where we began our records, before reaching Kashing, and B, near the left margin of the map, there were forty-three canals leading in from the up-country side, instead of the eight shown, and on the coast side there were eighty-six leading water out into the delta plain toward the coast, instead of the twelve shown. Again, on one of our trips by rail, from Shanghai to Nanking, we made a similar record of the number of canals seen from the train, close along the track, and the notes show, in a distance of 162 miles, 593 canals between Lungtan and Nansiang. This is an average of more than three canals per mile for this region and that between Shanghai and Hangchow.

The extent, nature and purpose of these vast systems of internal improvement may be better realized through a study of the next two sketch maps. The first, Fig. 52, represents an area 175 by 160 miles, of which the last illustration is the portion enclosed in the small rectangle. On this area there are shown 2,700 miles of canals and only about one-third of the canals shown in Fig. 51 are laid down on this map, and according to our personal observations there are three times as many canals as are shown on the map of which Fig. 51 represents a part. It is probable, therefore, that there exists today in the area of Fig. 52 not less than 25,000 miles of canals.

In the next illustration, Fig. 53, an area of northeast China, 600 by 725 miles, is represented. The unshaded land area covers nearly 200,000 square miles of alluvial plain. This plain is so level that at Ichang, nearly a thousand miles up the Yangtse, the elevation is only 130 feet above the sea. The tide is felt on the river to beyond Wuhu, 375 miles from the coast. During the summer the depth of water in the Yangtse is sufficient to permit ocean vessels drawing twenty-five feet of water to ascend six hundred miles to Hankow, and for smaller steamers to go on to Ichang, four hundred miles further.

The location, in this vast low delta and coastal plain, of the system of canals already described, is indicated by the two rectangles in the south-east corner of the sketch map, Fig. 53. The heavy barred black line extending from Hangchow in the south to Tientsin in the north represents the Grand Canal which has a length of more than eight hundred miles. The plain, east of this canal, as far north as the mouth of the Hwang ho in 1852, is canalized much as is the area shown in Fig. 52. So, too, is a large area both sides of the present mouth of the same river in Shantung and Chihli, between the canal and the coast. Westward, up the Yangtse valley, the provinces of Anhwei, Kiangsi, Hunan and Hupeh have very extensive canalized tracts, probably exceeding 28,000 square miles in area, and Figs. 54 and 55 are two views in this more western region. Still further west, in Szechwan province, is the Chengtu plain, thirty by seventy miles, with what has been called “the most remarkable irrigation system in China.”

Westward beyond the limits of the sketch map, up the Hwang ho valley, there is a reach of 125 miles of irrigated lands about Ninghaifu, and others still farther west, at Lanchowfu and at Suchow where the river has attained an elevation of 5,000 feet, in Kansu province; and there is still to be named the great Canton delta region. A conservative estimate would place the miles of canals and leveed rivers in China, Korea and Japan equal to eight times the number represented in Fig. 52. Fully 200,000 miles in all. Forty canals across the United States from east to west and sixty from north to south would not equal, in number of miles those in these three countries today. Indeed, it is probable that this estimate is not too large for China alone.

As adjuncts to these vast canalization works there have been enormous amounts of embankment, dike and levee construction. More than three hundred miles of sea wall alone exist in the area covered by the sketch map, Fig. 52. The east bank of the Grand Canal, between Yangchow and Hwaianfu, is itself a great levee, holding back the waters to the west above the eastern plain, diverting them south, into the Yangtse kiang. But it is also provided with spillways for use in times of excessive flood, permitting waters to discharge eastward. Such excess waters however are controlled by another dike with canal along its west side, some forty miles to the east, impounding the water in a series of large lakes until it may gradually drain away. This area is seen in Fig. 53, north of the Yangtse river.

Along the banks of the Yangtse, and for many miles along the Hwang ho, great levees have been built, some-times in reinforcing series of two or three at different distances back from the channel where the stream bed is above the adjacent country, in order to prevent widespread disaster and to limit the inundated areas in times of unusual flood. In the province of Hupeh, where the Han river flows through two hundred miles of low country, this stream is diked on both sides throughout the whole distance, and in a portion of its course the height of the levees reaches thirty feet or more. Again, in the Canton delta region there are other hundreds of miles of sea wall and dikes, so that the aggregate mileage of this type of construction works in the Empire can only be measured in thousands of miles.

In addition to the canal and levee construction works there are numerous impounding reservoirs which are brought into requisition to control overflow waters from the great streams. Some of these reservoirs, like Tungting lake in Hupeh and Poyang in Hunan, have areas of 2,000 and 1,800 square miles respectively and during the heaviest rainy seasons each may rise through twenty to thirty feet, Then there are other large and small lakes in the coastal plain giving an aggregate reservoir area exceeding 13,000 square miles, all of which are brought into service in controlling flood waters, all of which are steadily filling with the sediments brought from the far away uncultivable mountain slopes and which are ultimately destined to become rich alluvial plains, doubtless to be canalized in the manner we have seen.

There is still another phase of these vast construction works which has been of the greatest moment in increasing the maintenance capacity of the Empire,—the wresting from the flood waters of the enormous volumes of silt which they carry, depositing it over the flooded areas, in the canals and along the shores in such manner as to add to the habitable and cultivable land. Reference has been made to the rapid growth of Chungming island in the mouth of the Yangtse kiang, and the million people now finding homes on the 270 square miles of newly made land which now has its canals, as may be seen in the upper margin of Fig. 52. The city of Shanghai, as its name signifies, stood originally on the seashore, which has now grown twenty miles to the northward and to the eastward. In 220 B. C. the town of Putai in Shantung stood one-third of a mile from the sea, but in 1730 it was forty-seven miles inland, and is forty-eight miles from the shore today.

Sienshuiku, on the Pei ho, stood upon the seashore in 500 A. D. We passed the city, on our way to Tientsin, eighteen miles inland. The dotted line laid in from the coast of the Gulf of Chihli in Fig. 53 marks one historic shore line and indicates a general growth of land eighteen miles to seaward.

Besides these actual extensions of the shore lines the centuries of flooding of lakes and low lying lands has so filled many depressions as to convert large areas of swamp into cultivated fields. Not only this, but the spreading of canal mud broadcast over the encircled fields has had two very important effects,—namely, raising the level of the low lying fields, giving them better drainage and so better physical condition, and adding new plant food in the form of virgin soil of the richest type, thus contributing to the maintenance of soil fertility, high maintenance capacity and permanent agriculture through all the centuries.

These operations of maintenance and improvement had a very early inception; they appear to have persisted throughout the recorded history of the Empire and are in vogue today. Canals of the type illustrated in Figs. 51 and 52 have been built between 1886 and 1901, both on the extensions of Chungming island and the newly formed main land to the north, as is shown by comparison of Stieler’s atlas, revised in 1886, with the recent German survey.

Earlier than 2255 B. C., more than 4100 years ago, Emperor Yao appointed “The Great” Yu “Superintendent of Works” and entrusted him with the work of draining off the waters of disastrous floods and of canalizing the rivers, and he devoted thirteen years to this work. This great engineer is said to have written several treatises on agriculture and drainage, and was finally called, much against his wishes, to serve as Emperor during the last seven years of his life.

The history of the Hwang ho is one of disastrous floods and shiftings of its course, which have occurred many times in the years since before the time of the Great Yu, who perhaps began the works perpetuated today. Between 1300 A. D. and 1852 the Hwang ho emptied into the Yellow Sea south of the highlands of Shantung, but in that year, when in unusual flood, it broke through the north levees and finally took its present course, emptying again into the Gulf of Chihli, some three hundred miles further north. Some of these shiftings of course of the Hwang ho and of the Yangtse kiang are indicated in dotted lines on the sketch map, Fig. 53, where it may he seen that the Hwang ho during 146 years, poured its waters into the sea as far north as Tientsin, through the mouth of the Pei ho, four hundred miles to the northward of its mouth in 1852.

This mighty river is said to carry at low stage, past the city of Tsinan in Shantung, no less than 4,000 cubic yards of water per second, and three times this volume when running at flood. This is water sufficient to inundate thirty-three square miles of level country ten feet deep in twenty-four hours. What must be said of the mental status of a people who for forty centuries have measured their strength against such a Titan racing past their homes above the level of their fields, confined only between walls of their own construction? While they have not always succeeded in controlling the river, they have never failed to try again. In 1877 this river broke its banks, inundating a vast. area, bringing death to a million people. Again, as late as 1898, fifteen hundred villages to the northeast of Tsinan and a much larger area to the southwest of the same city were devastated by it, and it is such events as these which have won for the river the names “China’s Sorrow,” “The Ungovernable” and “The Scourge of the Sons of Han.”

The building of the Grand Canal appears to have been a comparatively recent event in Chinese history. The middle section, between the Yangtse and Tsingkiangpu, is said to have been constructed about the sixth century B. C.; the southern section, between Chingkiang and Hangchow, during the years 605 to 617 A. D.; but the northern section, from the channel of the Hwang ho deserted in 1852, to Tientsin, was not built until the years 1280-1283.

While this canal has been called by the Chinese Yu ho (Imperial river), Yun ho (Transport river) or Yunliang ho (Tribute bearing river) and while it has connected the great rivers coming down from the far interior into a great water-transport system, this feature of construction may have been but a by-product of the great dominating purpose which led to the vast internal improvements in the form of canals, dikes, levees and impounding reservoirs so widely scattered, so fully developed and so effectively utilized. Rather the master purpose must have been maintenance for the increasing flood of humanity. And I am willing to grant to the Great Yu, with his finger on the pulse of the nation, the power to project his vision four thousand years into the future of his race and to formulate some of the measures which might he inaugurated to grow with the years and make certain perpetual maintenance for those to follow.

The exhaustion of cultivated fields must always have been the most fundamental, vital and difficult problem of all civilized people and it appears clear that such canalization as is illustrated in Figs. 51 and 52 may have been primarily initial steps in the reclamation of delta and overflow lands. At any rate, whether deliberately so planned or not, the canalization of the delta and overflow plains of China has been one of the most fundamental and fruitful measures for the conservation of her national resources that they could have taken, for we are convinced that this oldest nation in the world has thus greatly augmented the extension of its coastal plains, conserving and building out of the waste of erosion wrested from the great streams, hundreds of square miles of the richest and most enduring of soils, and we have little doubt that were a full and accurate account given of human influence upon the changes in this remarkable region during the last four thousand years it would show that these gigantic systems of canalization have been matters of slow, gradual growth, often initiated and always profoundly influenced by the labors of the strong, patient, persevering, thoughtful but ever silent husband-men in their efforts to acquire homes and to maintain the productive power of their fields.

Nothing appears more clear than that the greatest material problem which can engage the best thought of China today is that of perfecting, extending and perpetuating the means for controlling her flood waters, for better draining of her vast areas of low land, and for utilizing the tremendous loads of silt borne by her streams more effectively in fertilizing existing fields and in building and reclaiming new land. With her millions of people needing homes and anxious for work; who have done so much in land building, in reclamation and in the maintenance of soil fertility, the government should give serious thought to the possibility of putting large numbers of them at work, effectively directed by the best engineering skill. It must now be entirely practicable, with engineering skill and mechanical appliances, to put the Hwang ho, and other rivers of China subject to overflow, completely under control. With the Hwang ho confined to its channel, the adjacent low lands can be better drained by canalization and freed from the accumulating saline deposits which are rendering them sterile. Warping may be resorted to during the flood season to raise the level of adjacent low-lying fields, rendering them at the same time more fertile. Where the river is running above the adjacent plains there is no difficulty in drawing off the turbid water by gravity, under controlled conditions, into diked basins, and even in compelling the river to buttress its own levees. There is certainly great need and great opportunity for China to make still better and more efficient her already wonderful transportation canals and those devoted to drainage, irrigation and fertilization.

In the United States, along the same lines, now that we are considering the development of inland waterways, the subject should be surveyed broadly and much careful study may well be given to the works these old people have developed and found serviceable through so many centuries. The Mississippi is annually bearing to the sea nearly 225,000 acre-feet of the most fertile sediment, and between levees along a raised bed through two hundred miles of country subject to inundation. The time is here when there should he undertaken a systematic diversion of a large part of this fertile soil over the swamp areas, building them into well drained, cultivable, fertile fields provided with waterways to serve for drainage, irrigation, fertilization and transportation. These great areas of swamp land may thus be converted into the most productive rice and sugar plantations to be found anywhere in the world, and the area made capable of maintaining many millions of people as long as the Mississippi endures, bearing its burden of fertile sediment.

But the conservation and utilization of the wastes of soil erosion, as applied in the delta plain of China, stupendous as this work has been, is nevertheless small when measured by the savings which accrue from the careful and extensive fitting of fields so largely practiced, which both lessens soil erosion and permits a large amount of soluble and suspended matter in the run-off to be applied to, and retained upon, the fields through their extensive systems of irrigation. Mountainous and hilly as are the lands of Japan, 11,000 square miles of her cultivated fields in the main islands of Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku have been carefully graded to water level areas bounded by narrow raised rims upon which sixteen or more inches of run-off water, with its suspended and soluble matters, may be applied, a large part of which is retained on the fields or utilized by the crop, while surface erosion is almost completely prevented. The illustrations, Figs. 11, 12 and 13 show the application of the principle to the larger and more level fields, and in Figs. 151, 152 and 225 may be seen the practice on steep slopes.

If the total area of fields graded practically to a water level in Japan aggregates 11,000 square miles, the total area thus surface fitted in China must be eight or tenfold this amount. Such enormous field erosion as is tolerated at the present time in our southern and south Atlantic states is permitted nowhere in the Far East, so far as we observed, not even where the topography is much steeper. The tea orchards as we saw them on the steeper slopes, not level-terraced, are often heavily mulched with straw which makes erosion, even by heavy rains impossible, while the treatment retains the rain where it falls, giving the soil opportunity to receive it under the impulse of both capillarity and gravity, and with it the soluble ash ingredients leached from the straw. The straw mulches we saw used in this manner were often six to eight inches deep, thus constituting a dressing of not less than six tons per acre, carrying 140 pounds of soluble potassium and 12 pounds of phosphorus. The practice, therefore, gives at once a good fertilizing, the highest conservation and utilization of rainfall, and a complete protection against soil erosion. It is a multum in parvo treatment which characterizes so many of the practices of these people, which have crystallized from twenty centuries of high tension experience.

In the Kiangsu and Chekiang provinces as elsewhere in the densely populated portions of the Far East, we found almost all of the cultivated fields very nearly level or made so by grading. Instances showing the type of this grading in a comparatively level country are seen in Figs. 56 and 57. By this preliminary surface fitting of the fields these people have reduced to the lowest possible limit the waste of soil fertility by erosion and surface leaching. At the same time they are able to retain upon the field, uniformly distributed over it, the largest part of the rainfall practicable, and to compel a much larger proportion of the necessary run off to leave by under-drainage than would be possible otherwise, conveying the plant food developed in the surface soil to the roots of the crops, while they make possible a more complete absorption and retention by the soil of the soluble plant food materials not taken up. This same treatment also furnishes the best possible conditions for the application of water to the fields when supplemental irrigation would be helpful, and for the withdrawal of surplus rainfall by surface drainage, should this be necessary.

Besides this surface fitting of fields there is a wide application of additional methods aiming to conserve both rainfall and soil fertility, one of which is illustrated in Fig. 58, showing one end of a collecting reservoir. There were three of these reservoirs in tandem, connected with each other by surface ditches and with an adjoining canal. About the reservoir the level field is seen to be thrown into beds with shallow furrows between the long narrow ridges. The furrows are connected by a head drain around the margin of the reservoir and separated from it by a narrow raised rim. Such a reservoir may be six to ten feet deep but can be completely drained only by pumping or by evaporation during the dry season. Into such reservoirs the excess surface water is drained where all suspended matter carried from the field collects and is returned, either directly as an application of mud or as material used in composts. In the preparation of composts, pits are dug near the margin of the reservoir, as seen in the illustration, and into them are thrown coarse manure and any roughage in the form of stubble or other refuse which may be available, these materials being saturated with the soft mud dipped from the bottom of the reservoir.

In all of the provinces where canals are abundant they also serve as reservoirs for collecting surface washings and along their banks great numbers of compost pits are maintained and repeatedly filled during the season, for use on the fields as the crops are changed. Fig. 59 shows two such pits on the bank of a canal, already filled.

In other cases, as in the Shantung province, illustrated in Fig. 60, the surface of the field may be thrown into broad leveled lands separated and bounded by deep and wide trenches into which the excess water of very heavy rains may collect. As we saw them there was no provision for draining the trenches and the water thus collected either seeps away or evaporates, or it may be returned in part by underflow and capillary rise to the soil from which it was collected, or be applied directly for irrigation by pumping. In this province the rains may often be heavy but the total fall for the year is small, being little more than twenty-four inches hence there is the greatest need for its conservation, and this is carefully practiced.



The Tosa Maru brought us again into Shanghai March 20th, just in time for the first letters from home. A ricksha man carried us and our heavy valise at a smart trot from the dock to the Astor House more than a mile, for 8.6 cents, U. S. currency, and more than the conventional price for the service rendered. On our way we passed several loaded carryalls of the type seen in Fig. 61, on which women were riding for a fare one-tenth that we had paid, but at a slower pace and with many a jolt.

The ringing chorus which came loud and clear when yet half a block away announced that the pile drivers were still at work on the foundation for an annex to the Astor House, and so were they on May 27th when we returned from the Shantung province, 88 days after we saw them first, but with the task then practically completed. Had the eighteen men labored continuously through this interval, the cost of their services to the contractor would have been but $205.92. With these conditions the engine-driven pile driver could not compete. All ordinary labor here receives a low wage. In the Chekiang province farm labor employed by the year received $30 and board, ten years ago, but now is receiving $50. This is at the rate of about $12.90 and $21.50, gold, materially less than there is paid per month in the United States. At Tsingtao in the Shantung province a missionary was paying a Chinese cook ten dollars per month, a man for general work nine dollars per month, and the cook’s wife, for doing the mending and other family service, two dollars per month, all living at home and feeding themselves. This service rendered for $9.03, gold, per month covers the marketing, all care of the garden and lawn as well as all the work in the house. Missionaries in China find such servants reliable and satisfactory, and trust them with the purse and the marketing for the table, finding them not only honest but far better at a bargain and at economical selection than themselves.

We had a soil tube made in the shops of a large English ship building and repair firm, employing many hundred Chinese as mechanics, using the most modern and complex machinery, and the foreman stated that as soon as the men could understand well enough to take orders they were even better shop hands than the average in Scotland and England. An educated Chinese booking clerk at the Soochow railway station in Kiangsu province was receiving a salary of $10.75, gold, per month. We had inquired the way to the Elizabeth Blake hospital and he volunteered to escort us and did so, the distance being over a mile.

He would accept no compensation, and yet I was an entire stranger, without introduction of any kind. Everywhere we went in China, the laboring people appeared generally happy and contented if they have something to do, and showed clearly that they were well nourished. The industrial classes are thoroughly organized, having had their guilds or labor unions for centuries and it is not at all uncommon for a laborer who is known to have violated the rules of his guild to be summarily dealt with or even to disappear without questions being asked. In going among the people, away from the lines of tourist travel, one gets the impression that everybody is busy or is in the harness ready to be busy. Tramps of our hobo type have few opportunities here and we doubt if one exists in either of these countries. There are people physically disabled who are asking alms and there are organized charities to help them, but in proportion to the total population these appear to be fewer than in America or Europe. The gathering of unfortunates and habitual beggars about public places frequented by people of leisure and means naturally leads tourists to a wrong judgment regarding the extent of these social conditions. Nowhere among these densely crowded people, either Chinese, Japanese or Korean, did we see one intoxicated, but among Americans and Europeans many instances were observed. All classes and both sexes use tobacco and the British-American Tobacco Company does a business in China amounting to millions of dollars annually.

During five months among these people we saw but two children in a quarrel. The two little boys were having their trouble on Nanking road, Shanghai, where, grasping each other’s pigtails, they tussled with a vengeance until the mother of one came and parted their ways.

Among the most frequent sights in the city streets are the itinerant vendors of hot foods and confections. Stove, fuel, supplies and appliances may all be carried on the shoulders, swinging from a bamboo pole. The mother in Fig. 63 was quite likely thus supporting her family and the children are seen at lunch, dressed in the blue and white calico prints so generally worn by the young. The printing of this calico by the very ancient, simple yet effective method we witnessed in the farm village along the canal seen in Fig. 10. This art, as with so many others in China, was the inheritance of the family we saw at work, handed down to them through many generations. The printer was standing at a rough work bench upon which a large heavy stone in cubical form served as a weight to hold in place a thoroughly lacquered sheet of tough cardboard in which was cut the pattern to appear in white on the cloth. Beside the stone stood a pot of thick paste prepared from a mixture of lime and soy bean flour. The soy beans were being ground in one corner of the same room by a diminutive edition of such an outfit as seen in Fig. 64. The donkey was working in his permanent abode and whenever off duty he halted before manger and feed. At the operator’s right lay a bolt of white cotton cloth fixed to unroll and pass under the stencil, held stationary by the heavy weight. To print, the stencil was raised and the cloth brought to place under it. The paste was then deftly spread with a paddle over the surface and thus upon the cloth beneath wherever exposed through the openings in the stencil. This completes the printing of the pattern on one section of the bolt of cloth. The free end of the stencil is then raised, the cloth passed along the proper distance by hand and the stencil dropped in place for the next application. The paste is permitted to dry upon the cloth and when the bolt has been dipped into the blue dye the portions protected by the paste remain white. In this simple manner has the printing of calico been done for centuries for the garments of millions of children. From the ceiling of the drying room in this printery of olden times were hanging some hundreds of stencils bearing different patterns. In our great calico mills, printing hundreds of yards per minute, the mechanics and the chemistry differ only in detail of application and in dispatch, not in fundamental principle.

In almost any direction we traveled outside the city, in the pleasant mornings when the air was still, the laying of warp for cotton cloth could be seen, to be woven later in the country homes. We saw this work in progress many times and in many places in the early morning, usually along some roadside or open place, as seen in Fig. 65, but never later in the day. When the warp is laid each will be rolled upon its stretcher and removed to the house to be woven.

In many places in Kiangsu province batteries of the large dye pits were seen sunk in the fields and lined with cement. These were six to eight feet in diameter and four to five feet deep. In one case observed there were nine pits in the set. Some of the pits were neatly sheltered beneath live arbors, as represented in Fig. 66. But much of this spinning, weaving, dyeing and printing of late years is being displaced by the cheaper calicos of foreign make and most of the dye pits we saw were not now used for this purpose, the two in the illustration serving as manure receptacles. Our interpreter stated however that there is a growing dissatisfaction with foreign goods on account of their lack of durability; and we saw many cases where the cloth dyed blue was being dried in large quantities on the grave lands.

In another home for nearly an hour we observed a method of beating cotton and of laying it to serve as the body for mattresses and the coverlets for beds. This we could do without intrusion because the home was also the work shop and opened full width directly upon the narrow street. The heavy wooden shutters which closed the home at night were serving as a work bench about seven feet square, laid upon movable supports. There was barely room to work between it and the sidewalk without impeding traffic, and on the three other sides there was a floor space three or four feet wide. In the rear sat grandmother and wife while in and out the four younger children were playing. Occupying the two sides of the room were receptacles filled with raw cotton and appliances for the work. There may have been a kitchen and sleeping room behind but no door, as such, was visible. The finished mattresses, carefully rolled and wrapped in paper, were suspended from the ceiling. On the improvised work table, with its top two feet above the floor, there had been laid in the morning before our visit, a mass of soft white cotton more than six feet square and fully twelve inches deep. On opposite sides of this table the father and his son, of twelve years, each twanged the string of their heavy bamboo bows, snapping the lint from the wads of cotton and flinging it broadcast in an even layer over the surface of the growing mattress, the two strings the while emitting tones pitched far below the hum of the bumblebee. The heavy bow was steadied by a cord secured around the body of the operator, allowing him to manage it with one hand and to move readily around his work in a manner different from the custom of the Japanese seen in Fig. 67. By this means the lint was expeditiously plucked and skillfully and uniformly laid, the twanging being effected by an appliance similar to that used in Japan.

Repeatedly, taken in small bits from the barrel of cotton, the lint was distributed over the entire surface with great dexterity and uniformity, the mattress growing upward with perfectly vertical sides, straight edges and square corners. In this manner a thoroughly uniform texture is secured which compresses into a body of even thickness, free from hard places.

The next step in building the mattress is even more simple and expeditious. A basket of long bobbins of roughly spun cotton was near the grandmother and probably her handiwork. The father took from the wall a slender bamboo rod like a fish-pole, six feet long, and selecting one of the spools, threaded the strand through an eye in the small end. With the pole and spool in one hand and the free end of the thread, passing through the eye, in the other, the father reached the thread across the mattress to the boy who hooked his finger over it, carrying it to one edge of the bed of cotton. While this was doing the father had whipped the pole back to his side and caught the thread over his own finger, bringing this down upon the cotton opposite his son. There was thus laid a double strand, but the pole continued whipping hack and forth across the bed, father and son catching the threads and bringing them to place on the cotton at the rate of forty to fifty courses per minute, and in a very short time the entire surface of the mattress had been laid with double strands. A heavy bamboo roller was next laid across the strands at the middle, passed carefully to one side, back again to the middle and then to the other edge. Another layer of threads was then laid diagonally and this similarly pressed with the same roller; then another diagonally the other way and finally straight across in both directions. A similar network of strands had been laid upon the table before spreading the cotton. Next a flat bottomed, circular, shallow basket-like form two feet in diameter was used to gently compress the material from twelve to six inches in thickness. The woven threads were now turned over the edge of the mattress on all sides and sewed down, after which, by means of two heavy solid wooden disks eighteen inches in diameter, father and son compressed the cotton until the thickness was reduced to three inches. There remained the task of carefully folding and wrapping the finished piece in oiled paper and of suspending it from the ceiling.

On March 20th, when visiting the Boone Road and Nanking Road markets in Shanghai, we had our first surprise regarding the extent to which vegetables enter into the daily diet of the Chinese. We had observed long processions of wheelbarrow men moving from the canals through the streets carrying large loads of the green tips of rape in bundles a foot long and five inches in diameter. These had come from the country on boats each carrying tons of the succulent leaves and stems. We had counted as many as fifty wheelbarrow men passing a given point on the street in quick succession, each carrying 300 to 500 pounds of the green rape and moving so rapidly that it was not easy to keep pace with them, as we learned in following one of the trains during twenty minutes to its destination. During this time not a man in the train halted or slackened his pace.

This rape is very extensively grown in the fields, the tips of the stems cut when tender and eaten, after being boiled or steamed, after the manner of cabbage. Very large quantities are also packed with salt in the proportion of about twenty pounds of salt to one hundred pounds of the rape. This, Fig. 68, and many other vegetables are sold thus pickled and used as relishes with rice, which invariably is cooked and served without salt or other seasoning.

Another field crop very extensively grown for human food, and partly as a source of soil nitrogen, is closely allied to our alfalfa. This is the Medicago astragalus, two beds of which are seen in Fig. 69. Tender tips of the stems are gathered before the stage of blossoming is reached and served as food after boiling or steaming. It is known among the foreigners as Chinese “clover.” The stems are also cooked and then dried for use when the crop is out of season. When picked very young, wealthy Chinese families pay an extra high price for the tender shoots, sometimes as much as 20 to 28 cents, our currency, per pound.

The markets are thronged with people making their purchases in the early mornings, and the congested condition, with the great variety of vegetables, makes it almost as impressive a sight as Billingsgate fish market in London. In the following table we give a list of vegetables observed there and the prices at which they were selling.

Lotus roots, per lb. 1.60
Bamboo sprouts, per lb. 6.40
English cabbage, per lb. 1.33
Olive greens, per lb. .67
White greens, per lb. .33
Tee Tsai, per lb. .53
Chinese celery, per lb. .67
Chinese clover, per lb. .58
Chinese clover, very young, lb. 21.33
Oblong white cabbage, per lb. 2.00
Red beans, per lb. 1.33
Yellow beans, per lb. 1.87
Peanuts, per lb. 2.49
Ground nuts, per lb. 2.96
Cucumbers, per lb. 2.58
Green pumpkin, per lb. 1.62
Maize, shelled, per lb. 1.00
Windsor beans, dry, per lb. 1.72
French lettuce, per head .44
Hau Tsai, per head .87
Cabbage lettuce, per head .22
Kale, per lb. 1.60
Rape, per lb. .23
Portuguese water cress, basket 2.15
Shang tsor, basket 8.60
Carrots, per lb. .97
String beans; per lb. 1.60
Irish potatoes, per lb. 1.60
Red onions, per lb. 4.96
Long white turnips, per lb. .44
Flat string beans, per lb. 4.80
Small white turnips, bunch .44
Onion stems, per lb. 1.29
Lima beans, green, shelled, lb. 6.45
Egg plants, per lb. 4.30
Tomatoes, per lb. 5.16
Small flat turnips, per lb. .86
Small red beets, per lb. 1.29
Artichokes, per lb. 1.29
White beans, dry, per lb. 4.80
Radishes, per lb. 1.29
Garlic, per lb. 2.15
Kohl rabi, per lb. 2.15
Mint, per lb. 4.30
Leeks, per lb. 2.18
Large celery, bleached, bunch 2.10
Sprouted peas, per lb. .80
Sprouted beans, per lb. .93
Parsnips, per lb. 1.29
Ginger roots, per lb. 1.60
Water chestnuts, per lb. 1.33
Large sweet potatoes, per lb. 1.33
Small sweet potatoes, per lb. 1.00
Onion sprouts, per lb. 2.13
Spinach, per lb. 1.00
Fleshy stemmed lettuce, peeled,
per lb. 2.00
Fleshy stemmed lettuce, unpeeled,
per lb. .67
Bean curd, per lb. 3.93
Shantung walnuts, per lb. 4.30
Duck eggs, dozen 8.34
Hen’s eggs, dozen 7.30
Goat’s meat, per lb. 6.45
Pork, per lb. 6.88
Hens, live weight, per lb. 6.45
Ducks, live weight, per lb. 5.59
Cockerels, live weight, per lb. 5.59—

This long list, made up chiefly of fresh vegetables displayed for sale on one market day, is by no means complete. The record is only such as was made in passing down one side and across one end of the market occupying nearly one city block. Nearly everything is sold by weight and the problem of correct weights is effectively solved by each purchaser carrying his own scales, which he unhesitatingly uses in the presence of the dealer. These scales are made on the pattern of the old time steelyards but from slender rods of wood or bamboo provided with a scale and sliding poise, the suspensions all being made with strings.

We stood by through the purchasing of two cockerels and the dickering over their weight. A dozen live birds were under cover in a large, open-work basket. The customer took out the birds one by one, examining them by touch, finally selecting two, the price being named. These the dealer tied together by their feet and weighed them, announcing the result; whereupon the customer checked the statement with his own scales. An animated dialogue followed, punctuated with many gesticulations and with the customer tossing the birds into the basket and turning to go away while the dealer grew more earnest. The purchaser finally turned back, and again balancing the roosters upon his scales, called a bystander to read the weight, and then flung them in apparent disdain at the dealer, who caught them and placed them in the customer’s basket. The storm subsided and the dealer accepted 92c, Mexican, for the two birds. They were good sized roosters and must have dressed more than three pounds each, yet for the two he paid less than 40 cents in our currency.

Bamboo sprouts are very generally used in China, Korea and Japan and when one sees them growing they suggest giant stalks of asparagus, some of them being three and even five inches in diameter and a foot in height at the stage for cutting. They are shipped in large quantities from province to province where they do not grow or when they are out of season. Those we saw in Nagasaki referred to in Fig. 22, had come from Canton or Swatow or possibly Formosa. The form, foliage and bloom of the bamboo give the most beautiful effects in the landscape, especially when grouped with tree forms. They are usually cultivated in small clumps about dwellings in places not otherwise readily utilized, as seen in Fig. 66. Like the asparagus bud, the bamboo sprout grows to its full height between April and August, even when it exceeds thirty or even sixty feet in height. The buds spring from fleshy underground stems or roots whose stored nourishment permits this rapid growth, which in its earlier stages may exceed twelve inches in twenty-four hours. But while the full size of the plant is attained the first season, three or four years are required to ripen and harden the wood sufficiently to make it suitable for the many uses to which the stems are put. It would seem that the time must come when some of the many forms of bamboo will be introduced and largely grown in many parts of this country.

Lotus roots form another article of diet largely used and widely cultivated from Canton to Tokyo. These are seen in the lower section of Fig. 70, and the plants in bloom in Fig. 71, growing in water, their natural habitat. The lotus is grown in permanent ponds not readily drained for rice or other crops, and the roots are widely shipped.

Sprouted beans and peas of many kinds and the sprouts of other vegetables, such as onions, are very generally seen in the markets of both China and Japan, at least during the late winter and early spring, and are sold as foods, having different flavors and digestive qualities, and no doubt with important advantageous effects in nutrition.

Ginger is another. crop which is very widely and extensively cultivated. It is generally displayed in the market in the root form. No one thing was more generally hawked about the streets of China than the water chestnut. This is a small corm or fleshy bulb having the shape and size of a small onion. Boys pare them and sell a dozen spitted together on slender sticks the length of a knitting needle. Then there are the water caltropes, grown in the canals producing a fruit resembling a horny nut having a shape which suggests for them the name “buffalo-horn”. Still another plant, known as water-grass (Hydropyrum latifolium) is grown in Kiangsu province where the land is too wet for rice. The plant has a tender succulent crown of leaves and the peeling of the outer coarser ones away suggests the husking of an ear of green corn. The portion eaten is the central tender new growth, and when cooked forms a delicate savory dish. The farmers’ selling price is three to four dollars, Mexican, per hundred catty, or $.97 to $1.29 per hundredweight, and the return per acre is from $13 to $20.

The small number of animal products which are included in the market list given should not be taken as indicating the proportion of animal to vegetable foods in the dietaries of these people. It is nevertheless true that they are vegetarians to a far higher degree than are most western nations, and the high maintenance efficiency of the agriculture of China, Korea and Japan is in great measure rendered possible by the adoption of a diet so largely vegetarian. Hopkins, in his Soil Fertility and Permanent Agriculture, page 234, makes this pointed statement of fact: “1000 bushels of grain has at least five times as much food value and will support five times as many people as will the meat or milk that can be made from it”. He also calls attention to the results of many Rothamsted feeding experiments with growing and fattening cattle, sheep and swine, showing that the cattle destroyed outright, in every 100 pounds of dry substance eaten, 57.3 pounds, this passing off into the air, as does all of wood except the ashes, when burned in the stove; they left in the excrements 36.5 pounds, and stored as increase but 6.2 pounds of the 100. With sheep the corresponding figures were 60.1 pounds; 31.9 pounds and 8 pounds; and with swine they were 65.7 pounds; 16.7 pounds and 17.6 pounds. But less than two-thirds of the substance stored in the animal can become food for man and hence we get but four pounds in one hundred of the dry substances eaten by cattle in the form of human food; but five pounds from the sheep and eleven pounds from swine.

In view of these relations, only recently established as scientific facts by rigid research, it is remarkable that these very ancient people came long ago to discard cattle as milk and meat producers; to use sheep more for their pelts and wool than for food; while swine are the one kind of the three classes which they did retain in the role of middleman as transformers of coarse substances into human food.

It is clear that in the adoption of the succulent forms of vegetables as human food important advantages are gained. At this stage of maturity they have a higher digestibility, thus making the elimination of the animal less difficult. Their nitrogen content is relatively higher and this in a measure compensates for loss of meat. By devoting the soil to growing vegetation which man can directly digest they have saved 60 pounds per 100 of absolute waste by the animal, returning their own wastes to the field for the maintenance of fertility. In using these immature forms of vegetation so largely as food they are able to produce an immense amount that would otherwise be impossible, for this is grown in a shorter time, permitting the same soil to produce more crops. It is also produced late in the fall and early in the spring when the season is too cold and the hours of sunshine too few each day to permit of ripening crops.



With the vast and ever increasing demands made upon materials which are the products of cultivated fields, for food, for apparel, for furnishings and for cordage, better soil management must grow more important as populations multiply. With the increasing cost and ultimate exhaustion of mineral fuel; with our timber vanishing rapidly before the ever growing demands for lumber and paper; with the inevitably slow growth of trees and the very limited areas which the world can ever afford to devote to forestry, the time must surely come when, in short period rotations, there will be grown upon the farm materials from which to manufacture not only paper and the substitutes for lumber, but fuels as well. The complete utilization of every stream which reaches the sea, reinforced by the force of the winds and the energy of the waves which may be transformed along the coast lines, cannot fully meet the demands of the future for power and heat; hence only in the event of science and engineering skill becoming able to devise means for transforming the unlimited energy of space through which we are ever whirled, with an economy approximating that which crops now exhibit, can good soil management be relieved of the task of meeting a portion of the world’s demand for power and heat.

When these statements were made in 1905 we did not know that for centuries there had existed in China, Korea and Japan a density of population such as to require the extensive cultivation of crops for fuel and building material, as well as for fabrics, by the ordinary methods of tillage, and hence another of the many surprises we had was the solution these people had reached of their fuel problem and of how to keep warm. Their solution has been direct and the simplest possible. Dress to make fuel for warmth of body unnecessary, and burn the coarser stems of crops, such as cannot be eaten, fed to animals or otherwise made useful. These people still use what wood can be grown on the untillable land within transporting distance, and convert much wood into charcoal, making transportation over longer distances easier. The general use of mineral fuels, such as coal, coke, oils and gas, had been impossible to these as to every other people until within the last one hundred years. Coal, coke, oil and natural gas, however, have been locally used by the Chinese from very ancient times. For more than two thousand years brine from many deep wells in Szechwan province has been evaporated with heat generated by the burning of natural gas from wells, conveyed through bamboo stems to the pans and burned from iron terminals. In other sections of the same province much brine is evaporated over coal fires. Alexander Hosie estimates the production of salt in Szechwan province at more than 600 million pounds annually.

Coal is here used also to some extent for warming the houses, burned in pits sunk in the floor, the smoke escaping where it may. The same method of heating we saw in use in the post office at Yokohama during February. The fires were in large iron braziers more than two feet across the top, simply set about the room, three being in operation. Stoves for house warming are not used in dwellings in these countries.

In both China and Japan we saw coal dust put into the form and size of medium oranges by mixing it with a thin paste of clay. Charcoal is similarly molded, as seen in Fig. 72, using a by-product from the manufacture of rice syrup for cementing. In Nanking we watched with much interest the manufacture of charcoal briquets by another method. A Chinese workman was seated upon the earth floor of a shop. By his side was a pile of powdered charcoal, a dish of rice syrup by-product and a basin of the moistened charcoal powder. Between his legs was a heavy mass of iron containing a slightly conical mold two inches deep, two and a half inches across at the top and a heavy iron hammer weighing several pounds. In his left hand he held a short heavy ramming tool and with his right placed in the mold a pinch of the moistened charcoal; then followed three well directed blows from the hammer upon the ramming tool, compressing the charge of moistened, sticky charcoal into a very compact layer. Another pinch of charcoal was added and the process repeated until the mold was filled, when the briquet was forced out.

By this simplest possible mechanism, the man, utilizing but a small part of his available energy, was subjecting the charcoal to an enormous pressure such as we attain only with the best hydraulic presses, and he was using the principle of repeated small charges recently patented and applied in our large and most efficient cotton and hay presses, which permit much denser bales to be made than is possible when large charges are added, and the Chinese is here, as in a thousand other ways, thoroughly sound in his application of mechanical principles. His output for the day was small but his patience seemed unlimited. His arms and body, bared to the waist, showed vigor and good feeding, while his face wore the look of contentment.

With forty centuries of such inheritance coursing in the veins of four hundred millions of people, in a country possessed of such marvelous wealth of coal and water power, of forest and of agricultural possibilities, there should be a future speedily blossoming and ripening into all that is highest and best for such a nation. If they will retain their economies and their industry and use their energies to develop, direct and utilize the power in their streams and in their coal fields along the lines which science has now made possible to them, at the same time walking in paths of peace and virtue, there is little worth while which may not come to such a people.

A Shantung farmer in winter dress, Fig. 18, and the Kiangsu woman portrayed in Fig. 73, in corresponding costume, are typical illustrations of the manner in which food for body warmth is minimized and of the way the heat generated in the body is conserved. Observe his wadded and quilted frock, his trousers of similar goods tied about the ankle, with his feet clad in multiple socks and cloth shoes provided with thick felted soles. These types of dress, with the wadding, quilting, belting and tying, incorporate and confine as part of the effective material a large volume of air, thus securing without cost, much additional warmth without increasing the weight of the garments. Beneath these outer garments several under pieces of different weights are worn which greatly conserve the warmth during the coldest weather and make possible a wide range of adjustment to suit varying changes in temperature. It is doubtful if there could he devised a wardrobe suited to the conditions of these people at a smaller first cost and maintenance expense. Rev. E. A. Evans, of the China Inland Mission, for many years residing at Sunking in Szechwan, estimated that a farmer’s wardrobe, once it was procured, could be maintained with an annual expenditure of $2.25 of our currency, this sum procuring the materials for both repairs and renewals.

The intense individual economy, extending to the smallest matters, so universally practiced by these people, has sustained the massive strength of the Mongolian nations through their long history and this trait is seen in their handling of the fuel problem, as it is in all other lines. In the home of Mrs. Wu, owner and manager of a 25-acre rice farm in Chekiang province, there was a masonry kang seven by seven feet, about twenty-eight inches high, which could be warmed in winter by building a fire within. The top was fitted for mats to serve as couch by day and as a place upon which to spread the bed at night. In the Shantung province we visited the home of a prosperous farmer and here found two kangs in separate sleeping apartments, both warmed by the waste heat from the kitchen whose chimney flue passed horizontally under the kangs before rising through the roof. These kangs were wide enough to spread the beds upon, about thirty inches high, and had been constructed from brick twelve inches square and four inches thick, made from the clay subsoil taken from the fields and worked into a plastic mass, mixed with chaff and short straw, dried in the sun and then laid in a mortar of the same material. These massive kangs are thus capable of absorbing large amounts of the waste heat from the kitchen during the day and of imparting congenial warmth to the couches by day and to the beds and sleeping apartments during the night. In some Manchurian inns large compound kangs are so arranged that the guests sleep heads together in double rows, separated only by low dividing rails, securing the greatest economy of fuel, providing the guests with places where they may sit upon the moderately warmed fireplace, and spread their beds when they retire.

The economy of the chimney beds does not end with the warmth conserved. The earth and straw brick, through the processes of fermentation and through shrinkage, become open and porous after three or four years of service, so that the draft is defective, giving annoyance from smoke, which requires their renewal. But the heat, the fermentation and the absorption of products of combustion have together transformed the comparatively infertile subsoil into what they regard as a valuable fertilizer and these discarded brick are used in the preparation of compost fertilizers for the fields. On account of this value of the discarded brick the large amount of labor involved in removing and rebuilding the kangs is not regarded altogether as labor lost.

Our own observations have shown that heating soils to dryness at a temperature of 110 deg C. greatly increases the freedom with which plant food may be recovered from them by the solvent power of water, and the same heating doubtless improves the physical and biological conditions of the soil as well. Nitrogen combined as ammonia, and phosphorus, potash and lime are all carried with the smoke or soot, mechanically in the draft and arrested upon the inner walls of the kangs or filter into the porous brick with the smoke, and thus add plant food directly to the soil. Soot from wood has been found to contain, as an average, 1.36 per cent of nitrogen; .51 per cent of phosphorus and 5.34 per cent of potassium. We practice burning straw and corn stalks in enormous quantities, to get them easily out of the way, thus scattering on the winds valuable plant food, thoughtlessly and lazily wasting where these people laboriously and religiously save. These are gains in addition to those which result from the formation of nitrates, soluble potash and other plant foods through fermentation. We saw many instances where these discarded brick were being used, both in Shantung and Chihli provinces, and it was common in walking through the streets of country villages to see piles of them, evidently recently removed.

The fuel grown on the farms consists of the stems of all agricultural crops which are to any extent woody, unless they can be put to some better use. Rice straw, cotton stems pulled by the roots after the seed has been gathered, the stems of windsor beans, those of rape and the millets, all pulled by the roots, and many other kinds, are brought to the market tied in bundles in the manner seen in Figs. 74, 75 and 76. These fuels are used for domestic purposes and for the burning of lime, brick, roofing tile and earthenware as well as in the manufacture of oil, tea, bean-curd and many other processes. In the home, when the meals are cooked with these light bulky fuels, it is the duty of some one, often one of the children, to sit on the floor and feed the fire with one hand while with the other a bellows is worked to secure sufficient draft. The manufacture of cotton seed oil and cotton seed cake is one of the common family industries in China, and in one of these homes we saw rice hulls and rice straw being used as fuel. In the large low, one-story, tile-roofed building serving as store, warehouse, factory and dwelling, a family of four generations were at work, the grandfather supervising in the mill and the grandmother leading in the home and store where the cotton seed oil was being. retailed for 22 cents per pound and the cotton seed cake at 33 cents, gold, per hundredweight. Back of the store and living rooms, in the mill compartment, three blindfolded water buffalo, each working a granite mill, were crushing and grinding the cotton seed. Three other buffalo, for relay service, were lying at rest or eating, awaiting their turn at the ten-hour working day. Two of the mills were horizontal granite burrs more than four feet in diameter, the upper one revolving once with each circuit made by the cow. The third mill was a pair of massive granite rollers, each five feet in diameter and two feet thick, joined on a very short horizontal axle which revolved on a circular stone plate about a vertical axis once with each circuit of the buffalo. Two men tended the three mills. After the cotton seed had been twice passed through the mills it was steamed to render the oil fluid and more readily expressed. The steamer consisted of two covered wooden hoops not unlike that seen in Fig. 77, provided with screen bottoms, and in these the meal was placed over openings in the top of an iron kettle of boiling water from which the steam was forced through the charge of meal. Each charge was weighed in a scoop balanced on the arm of a bamboo scale, thus securing a uniform weight for the cakes.

On the ground in front of the furnace sat a boy of twelve years steadily feeding rice chaff into the fire with his left hand at the rate of about thirty charges per minute, while with his right hand, and in perfect rhythm, he drew back and forth the long plunger of a rectangular box bellows, maintaining a forced draft for the fire. At intervals the man who was bringing fuel fed into the furnace a bundle of rice straw, thus giving the boy’s left arm a moment’s respite. When the steaming has rendered the oil sufficiently fluid the meal is transferred, hot, to ten-inch hoops two inches deep, made of braided bamboo strands, and is deftly tramped with the bare feet, while hot, the operator steadying himself by a pair of hand bars. After a stack of sixteen hoops, divided by a slight sifting of chaff or short straw to separate the cakes, had been completed these were taken to one of four pressmen, who were kept busy in expressing the oil.

The presses consisted of two parallel timbers framed together, long enough to receive the sixteen hoops on edge above a gap between them. These cheeses of meal are subjected to an enormous pressure secured by means of three parallel lines of wedges forced against the follower each by an iron-bound master wedge, driven home with a heavy beetle weighing some twenty-five or thirty pounds. The lines of wedges were tightened in succession, the loosened line receiving an additional wedge to take up the slack after drawing back the master wedge, which was then driven home. To keep good the supply of wedges which are often crushed under the pressure a second boy, older than the one at the furnace, was working on the floor, shaping new ones, the broken wedges and the chips going to the furnace for fuel.

By this very simple, readily constructed and inexpensive mechanism enormous pressures were secured and when the operator had obtained the desired compression he lighted his pipe and sat down to smoke until the oil ceased dripping into the pit sunk in the floor beneath the press. In this interval the next series of cakes went to another press and the work thus kept up during the day.

Six hundred and forty cakes was the average daily output of this family of eight men and two boys, with their six water buffalo. The cotton seed cakes were being sold as feed, and a near-by Chinese dairyman was using them for his herd of forty water buffalo, seen in Fig. 78, producing milk for the foreign trade in Shanghai. This herd of forty cows one of which was an albino, was giving an average of but 200 catty of milk per day, or at the rate of six and two-thirds pounds per head! The cows have extremely small udders but the milk is very rich, as indicated by an analysis made in the office of the Shanghai Board of Health and obtained through the kindness of Dr. Arthur Stanley. The milk showed a specific gravity of 1.028 and contained 20.1 per cent total solids; 7.5 per cent fat; 4.2 per cent milk sugar and .8 per cent ash. In the family of Rev. W. H. Hudson, of the Southern Presbyterian Mission, Kashing, whose very gracious hospitality we enjoyed on two different occasions, the butter made from the milk of two of these cows, one of which, with her calf, is seen in Fig. 79, was used on the family table. It was as white as lard or cottolene but the texture and flavor were normal and far better than the Danish and New Zealand products served at the hotels.

The milk produced at the Chinese dairy in Shanghai was being sold in bottles holding two pounds, at the rate of one dollar a bottle, or 43 cents, gold. This seems high and there may have been misunderstanding on the part of my interpreter but his answer to my question was that the milk was being sold at one Shanghai dollar per bottle holding one and a half catty, which, interpreted, is the value given above.

But fuel from the stems of cultivated plants which are in part otherwise useful, is not sufficient to meet the needs of country and village, notwithstanding the intense economies practiced. Large areas of hill and mountain land are made to contribute their share, as we have seen in the south of China, where pine boughs were being used for firing the lime and cement kilns. At Tsingtao we saw the pine bough fuel on the backs of mules, Fig. 80, coming from the hills in Shantung province. Similar fuels were being used in Korea and we have photographs of large pine bough fuel stacks, taken in Japan at Funabashi, east from Tokyo.

The hill and mountain lands, wherever accessible to the densely peopled plains, have long been cut over and as regularly has afforestation been encouraged and deliberately secured even through the transplanting of nursery stock grown expressly for that purpose. We had read so much regarding the reckless destruction of forests in China and Japan and had seen so few old forest trees except where these had been protected about temples, graves or houses, that when Rev. R. A. Haden, of the Elizabeth Blake hospital, near Soochow insisted that the Chinese were deliberate foresters and that they regularly grow trees for fuel, transplanting them when necessary to secure a close and early stand, after the area had been cleared, we were so much surprised that he generously volunteered to accompany us westward on a two days journey into the hill country where the practice could be seen.

A family owning a houseboat and living upon it was engaged for the journey. This family consisted of a recently widowed father, his two sons, newly married, and a helper. They were to transport us and provide sleeping quarters for myself, Mr. Haden and a cook for the consideration of $3.00, Mexican, per day and to continue the journey through the night, leaving the day for observation in the hills.

The recent funeral had cost the father $100 and the wedding of the two sons $50 each, while the remodeling of the houseboat to meet the needs of the new family relations cost still another $100. To meet these expenses it had been necessary to borrow the full amount, $300. On $100 the father was paying 20 per cent interest; on $50 he was compelled to pay 50 per cent interest. The balance he had borrowed from friends without interest but with the understanding that he would return the favor should occasion be required.

Rev. A. E. Evans informed us that it is a common practice in China for neighbors to help one another in times of great financial stress. This is one of the methods:

A neighbor may need 8000 cash. He prepares a feast and sends invitations to a hundred friends. They know there has been no death in his family and that there is no wedding, still it is understood that he is in need of money. The feast is prepared at a small expense. The invited guests come, each bringing eighty cash as a present. The recipient is expected to keep a careful record of contributing friends and to repay the sum. Another method is like this: For some reason a man needs to borrow 20,000 cash. He proposes to twenty of his friends that they organize a club to raise this sum. If the friends agree each pays 1000 cash to the organizing member. The balance of the club draw lots as to which member shall be number two, three, four, five, etc., designating the order in which payments shall be made. The man borrowing the money is then under obligation to see that these payments are met in full at the times agreed upon. Not infrequently a small rate of interest is charged.

Rates of interest are very high in China, especially on small sums where securities are not the best. Mr. Evans informs me that two per cent per month is low and thirty per cent per annum is very commonly collected. Such obligations are often never met but they do not outlaw and may descend from father to son.

The boat cost $292.40 in U. S. currency; the yearly earning was $107.50 to $120.40. The funeral cost $43 and $43 more was required for the wedding of the two sons. They were receiving for the services of six people $1.29 per day. An engagement for two weeks or a month could have been made for materially lower rates and their average daily earning, on the basis of three hundred days service in the year, and the $120.40 total earning, would be only 40.13 cents, less than seven cents each, hence their trip with us was two of their banner days. Foreigners in Shanghai and other cities frequently engage such houseboat service for two weeks or a month of travel on the canals and rivers, finding it a very enjoyable as well as inexpensive way of having a picnic outing.

On reaching the hill lands the next morning there were such scenes as shown in Fig. 82, where the strips of tree growth, varying from two to ten years, stretched directly up the slope, often in strong contrast on account of the straight boundaries and different ages of the timber. Some of these long narrow holdings were less than two rods wide and on one of these only recently cut, up which we walked for considerable distance, the young pine were springing up in goodly numbers. As many as eighteen young trees were counted on a width of six feet across the strip of thirty feet wide. On this area everything had been recently cut clean. Even stumps and the large roots were dug and saved for fuel.

In Fig. 83 are seen bundles of fuel from such a strip, just brought into the village, the boughs retaining the leaves although the fuel had been dried. The roots, too, are tied in with the limbs so that everything is saved. On our walk to the hills we passed many people bringing their loads of fuel swinging from carrying poles on their shoulders. Inquiries regarding the afforestation of these strips of hillside showed that the extensive digging necessitated by the recovery of the roots usually caused new trees to spring up quickly as volunteers from scattered seed and from the roots, so that planting was not generally required. Talking with a group of people as to where we could see some of the trees used for replanting the hillsides, a lad of seven years was first to understand and volunteered to conduct us to a planting. This he did and was overjoyed on receipt of a trifle for his services. One of these little pine nurseries is seen in Fig. 84, many being planted in suitable places through the woods. The lad led us to two such locations with whose whereabouts he was evidently very familiar, although they were considerable distance from the path and far from home. These small trees are used in filling in places where the volunteer growth has not been sufficiently close. A strong herbaceous growth usually springs up quickly on these newly cleared lands and this too is cut for fuel or for use in making compost or as green manure.

The grass which grows on the grave lands, if not fed off, is also cut and saved for fuel. We saw several instances of this outside of Shanghai, one where a mother with her daughter, provided with rake, sickle, basket and bag, were gathering the dry stubble and grass of the previous season, from the grave lands where there was less than could be found on our closely mowed meadows. In Fig. 85 may be seen a man who has just returned with such a load, and in his hand is the typical rake of the Far East, made by simply bending bamboo splints, claw-shape, and securing them as seen in the engraving.

In the Shantung province, in Chihli and in Manchuria, millet stems, especially those of the great kaoliang or sorghum, are extensively used for fuel and for building as well as for screens, fences and matting. At Mukden the kaoliang was selling as fuel at $2.70 to $3.00, Mexican, for a 100-bundle load of stalks, weighing seven catty to the bundle. The yield per acre of kaoliang fuel amounts to 5600 pounds and the stalks are eight to twelve feet long, so that when carried on the backs of mules or horses the animals are nearly hidden by the load. The price paid for plant stem fuel from agricultural crops, in different parts of China and Japan, ranged from $1.30 to $2.85, U. S. currency, per ton. The price of anthracite coal at Nanking was $7.76 per ton. Taking the weight of dry oak wood at 3500 pounds per cord, the plant stem fuel, for equal weight, was selling at $2.28 to $5.00.

Large amounts of wood are converted into charcoal in these countries and sent to market baled in rough matting or in basketwork cases woven from small brush and holding two to two and a half bushels. When such wood is not converted into charcoal it is sawed into one or two-foot lengths, split and marketed tied in bundles, as seen in Fig. 77.

Along the Mukden-Antung railway in Manchuria fuel was also being shipped in four-foot lengths, in the form of cordwood. In Korea cattle were provided with a peculiar saddle for carrying wood in four-foot sticks laid blanket-fashion over the animal, extending far down on their sides. Thus was it brought from the hills to the railway station. This wood, as in Manchuria, was cut from small trees. In Korea, as in most parts of China where we visited, the tree growth over the hills was generally scattering and thin on the ground wherever there was not individual ownership in small holdings. Under and among the scattering pine there were oak in many cases, but these were always small, evidently not more than two or three years standing, and appearing to have been repeatedly cut back. It was in Korea that we saw so many instances of young leafy oak boughs brought to the rice fields and used as green manure.

There was abundant evidence of periodic cutting between Mukden and Antung in Manchuria; between Wiju and Fusan in Korea; and throughout most of our journey in Japan; from Nagasaki to Moji and from Shimonoseki to Yokohama. In all of these countries afforestation takes place quickly and the cuttings on private holdings are made once in ten, twenty or twenty-five years. When the wood is sold to those coming for it the takers pay at the rate of 40 sen per one horse load of forty kan, or 330 pounds, such as is seen in Fig. 87. Director Ono, of the Akashi Experiment station, informed us that such fuel loads in that prefecture, where the wood is cut once in ten years, bring returns amounting to about $40 per acre for the ten-year crop. This land was worth $40 per acre but when they are suitable for orange groves they sell for $600 per acre. Mushroom culture is extensively practiced under the shade of some of these wooded areas, yielding under favorable conditions at the rate of $100 per acre.

The forest covered area in Japan exclusive of Formosa and Karafuto, amounts to a total of 54,196,728 acres, less than twenty millions of which are in private holdings, the balance belonging to the state and to the Imperial Crown.

In all of these countries there has been an extensive general use of materials other than wood for building purposes and very many of the substitutes for lumber are products grown on the cultivated fields. The use of rice straw for roofing, as seen in the Hakone village, Fig. 8, is very general throughout the rice growing districts, and even the sides of houses may be similarly thatched, as was observed in the Canton delta region, such a construction being warm for winter and cool for summer. The life of these thatched roofs, however, is short and they must be renewed as often as every three to five years but the old straw is highly prized as fertilizer for the fields on which it is grown, or it may serve as fuel, the ashes only going to the fields.

Burned clay tile, especially for the cities and public buildings, are very extensively used for roofing, clay being abundant and near at hand. In Chihli and in Manchuria millet and sorghum stems, used alone or plastered, as in Fig. 88, with a mud mortar, sometimes mixed with lime, cover the roofs of vast numbers of the dwellings outside the larger cities.

At Chiao Tou in Manchuria we saw the building of the thatched millet roofs and the use of kaoliang stems as lumber. Rafters were set in the usual way and covered with a layer about two inches thick of the long kaoliang stems stripped of their leaves and tops. These were tied together and to the rafters with twine, thus forming a sort of matting. A layer of thin clay mortar was then spread over the surface and well trowelled until it began to show on the under side. Over this was applied a thatch of small millet stems bound in bundles eight inches thick, cut square across the butts to eighteen inches in length. They were dipped in water and laid in courses after the manner of shingles but the butts of the stems are driven forward to a slope which obliterates the shoulder, making the courses invisible. In the better houses this thatching may be plastered with earth mortar or with an earth-lime mortar, which is less liable to wash in heavy rain.

The walls of the house we saw building were also sided with the long, large kaoliang stems. An ordinary frame with posts and girts about three feet apart had been erected, on sills and with plates carrying the roof. Standing vertically against the girts and tied to them, forming a close layer, were the kaoliang stems. These were plastered outside and in with a layer of thin earth mortar. A similar layer of stems, set up on the inside of the girts and similarly plastered, formed the inner face of the wall of the house, leaving dead air spaces between the girts.

Brick made from earth are very extensively used for house building, chaff and short straw being used as a binding material, the brick being simply dried in the sun, as seen in Fig. 89. A house in the process of building, where the brick were being used, is seen in Fig. 90. The foundation of the dwelling, it will be observed, was laid with well-formed hard-burned brick, these being necessary to prevent capillary moisture from the ground being drawn up and soften the earth brick, making the wall unsafe.

Several kilns for burning brick, built of clay and earth, were passed in our journey up the Pei ho, and stacked about them, covering an area of more than eight hundred feet back from the river were bundles of the kaoliang stems to serve as fuel in the kilns.

The extensive use of the unburned brick is necessitated by the difficulty of obtaining fuel, and various methods are adopted to reduce the number of burned brick required in construction. One of these devices is shown in Fig. 79, where the city wall surrounding Kashing is constructed of alternate courses of four layers of burned brick separated by layers of simple earth concrete.

In addition to the multiple-function, farm-gown crops used for food, fuel and building material, there is a large acreage devoted to the growing of textile and fiber products and enormous quantities of these are produced annually. In Japan, where some fifty millions of people are chiefly fed on the produce of little more than 21,000 square miles of cultivated land, there was grown in 1906 more than 75,500,000 pounds of cotton, hemp, flax and China grass textile stock, occupying 76,700 acres of the cultivated land. On 141,000 other acres there grew 115,000,000 pounds of paper mulberry and Mitsumata, materials used in the manufacture of paper. From still another 14,000 acres were taken 92,000,000 pounds of matting stuff, while more than 957,000 acres were occupied by mulberry trees for the feeding of silkworms, yielding to Japan 22,389,798 pounds of silk. Here are more than 300,000,000 pounds of fiber and textile stuff taken from 1860 square miles of the cultivated land, cutting down the food producing area to 19,263 square miles and this area is made still smaller by devoting 123,000 acres to tea, these producing in 1906 58,900,000 pounds, worth nearly five million dollars. Nor do these statements express the full measure of the producing power of the 21,321 square miles of cultivated land, for, in addition to the food and other materials named, there were also made $2,365,000 worth of braid from straw and wood shavings; $6,000,000 worth of rice straw bags, packing cases and matting; and $1,085,000 worth of wares from bamboo, willow and vine. As illustrating the intense home industry of these people we may consider the fact that the 5,453,309 households of farmers in Japan produced in 1906, in their homes as subsidiary work, $20,527,000 worth of manufactured articles. If correspondingly exact statistical data were available from China and Korea a similarity full utilization of cultural possibilities would be revealed there.

This marvelous heritage of economy, industry and thrift, bred of the stress of centuries, must not be permitted to lose virility through contact with western wasteful practices, now exalted to seeming virtues through the dazzling brilliancy of mechanical achievements. More and more must labor be dignified in all homes alike, and economy, industry and thrift become inherited impulses compelling and satisfying.

Cheap, rapid, long distance transportation, already well started in these countries, will bring with it a fuller utilization of the large stores of coal and mineral wealth and of the enormous available water power, and as a result there will come some temporary lessening of the stress for fuel and with better forest management some relief along the lines of building materials. But the time is not a century distant when, throughout the world, a fuller, better development must take place along the lines of these most far-reaching and fundamental practices so long and so effectively followed by the Mongolian races in China, Korea and Japan. When the enormous water-power of these countries has been harnessed and brought into the foot-hills and down upon the margins of the valleys and plains in the form of electric current, let it, if possible, be in a large measure so distributed as to become available in the country village homes to lighten the burden and lessen the human drudgery and yet increase the efficiency of the human effort now so well bestowed upon subsidiary manufactures under the guidance and initiative of the home, where there may be room to breathe and for children to come up to manhood and womanhood in the best conditions possible, rather than in enormous congested factories.



On March 31st we took the 8 A. M. train on the Shanghai-Nanking railway for Kunshan, situated thirty-two miles west from Shanghai, to spend the day walking in the fields. The fare, second class, was eighty cents, Mexican. A third class ticket would have been forty cents and a first class, $1.60, practically two cents, one cent and half a cent, our currency, per mile. The second class fare to Nanking, a distance of 193 miles, was $1.72, U. S. currency, or a little less than one cent per mile. While the car seats were not upholstered, the service was good. Meals were served on the train in either foreign or Chinese style, and tea, coffee or hot water to drink. Hot, wet face cloths were regularly passed and many Chinese daily newspapers were sold on the train, a traveler often buying two.

In the vicinity of Kunshan a large area of farm land had been acquired by the French catholic mission at a purchase price of $40, Mexican, per mow, or at the rate of $103.20 per acre. This they rented to the Chinese.

It was here that we first saw, at close range, the details of using canal mud as a fertilizer, so extensively applied in China. Walking through the fields we came upon the scene in the middle section of Fig. 92 where, close on the right was such a reservoir as seen in Fig. 58. Men were in it, dipping up the mud which had accumulated over its bottom, pouring it on the bank in a field of windsor beans, and the thin mud was then over two feet deep at that side and flowing into the beans where it had already spread two rods, burying the plants as the engraving shows. When sufficiently dry to be readily handled this would be spread among the beans as we found it being done in another field, shown in the upper section of the illustration. Here four men were distributing such mud, which had dried, between the rows, not to fertilize the beans, but for a succeeding crop of cotton soon to be planted between the rows, before they were harvested. The owner of this piece of land, with whom we talked and who was superintending the work, stated that his usual yield of these beans was three hundred catty per mow and that they sold them green, shelled, at two cents, Mexican, per catty. At this price and yield his return would be $15.48, gold, per acre. If there was need of nitrogen and organic matter in the soil the vines would be pulled green, after picking the beans, and composted with the wet mud. If not so needed the dried stems would be tied in bundles and sold as fuel or used at home, the ashes being returned to the fields. The windsor beans are thus an early crop grown for fertilizer, fuel and food.

This farmer was paying his laborers one hundred cash per day and providing their meals, which he estimated worth two hundred cash more, making twelve cents, gold, for a ten-hour day. Judging from what we saw and from the amount of mud carried per load, we estimated the men would distribute not less than eighty-four loads of eighty pounds each per day, an average distance of five hundred feet, making the cost 3.57 cents, gold, per ton for distribution.

The lower section of Fig. 92 shows another instance where mud was being used on a narrow strip bordering the path along which we walked, the amount there seen having been brought more than four hundred feet, by one man before 10 A. M. on the morning the photograph was taken. He was getting it from the bottom of a canal ten feet deep, laid bare by the out-going tide. Already he had brought more than a ton to his field.

The carrying baskets used for this work were in the form of huge dustpans suspended from the carrying poles by two cords attached to the side rims, and steadied by the hand grasping a handle provided in the back for this purpose and for emptying the baskets by tipping. With this construction the earth was readily raked upon the basket and very easily emptied from it by simply raising the hands when the destination was reached. No arrangement could be more simple, expeditious or inexpensive for this man with his small holding. In this simple manner has nearly all of the earth been moved in digging the miles of canal and in building the long sea walls. In Shanghai the mud carried through the storm sewers into Soochow creek we saw being removed in the same manner during the intervals when the tide was out.

In still another field, seen in Fig. 93, the upper portion shows where canal mud had been applied at a rate exceeding seventy tons per acre, and we were told that such dressings may be repeated as often as every two years though usually at longer intervals, if other and cheaper fertilizers could be obtained. In the lower portion of the same illustration may be seen the section of canal from which this mud was taken up the three earthen stairways built of the mud itself and permitted to dry before using. Many such lines of stairway were seen during our trips along the canals, only recently made or in the process of building to be in readiness when the time for applying the mud should arrive. To facilitate collecting the mud from the shallow canals temporary dams may be thrown across them at two places and the water between either scooped or pumped out, laying the bottom bare, as is often done also for fishing. The earth of the large grave mound seen across a canal in the center background of the upper portion of the engraving had been collected in a similar manner.

In the Chekiang province canal mud is extensively used in the mulberry orchards as a surface dressing. We have referred to this practice in southern China, and Fig. 94 is a view taken south of Kashing early in April. The boat anchored in front of the mulberry orchard is the home of a family coming from a distance, seeking employment during the season for picking mulberry leaves to feed silkworms. We were much surprised, on looking back at the boat after closing the camera, to see the head of the family standing erect in the center, having shoved back a section of the matting roof.

The dressing of mud applied to this field formed a loose layer more than two inches deep and when compacted by the rains which would follow would add not less than a full inch of soil over the entire orchard, and the weight per acre could not be less than 120 tons.

Another equally, or even more, laborious practice followed by the Chinese farmers in this province is the periodic exchange of soil between mulberry orchards and the rice fields, their experience being that soil long used in the mulberry orchards improves the rice, while soil from the rice fields is very helpful when applied to the mulberry orchards. We saw many instances, when traveling by boat-train between Shanghai, Kashing and Hangchow, of soil being carried from rice fields and either stacked on the banks or dropped into the canal. Such soil was oftenest taken from narrow trenches leading through the fields, laying them off in beds. It is our judgment that the soil thrown into the canals undergoes important changes, perhaps through the absorption of soluble plant food substances such as lime, phosphoric acid and potash withdrawn from the water, or through some growth or fermentation, which, in the judgment of the farmer, makes the large labor involved in this procedure worth while. The stacking of soil along the banks was probably in preparation for its removal by boat to some of the mulberry orchards.

It is clearly recognized by the farmers that mud collected from those sections of the canal leading through country villages, such as that seen in Fig. 10, is both inherently more fertile and in better physical condition than that collected in the open country. They attribute this difference to the effect of the village washing in the canal, where soap is extensively used. The storm waters of the city doubtless carry some fertilizing material also, although sewage, as such, never finds its way into the canals. The washing would be very likely to have a decided flocculating effect and so render this material more friable when applied to the field.

One very important advantage which comes to the fields when heavily dressed with such mud is that resulting from the addition of lime which has become incorporated with the silts through their flocculation and precipitation, and that which is added in the form of snail shells abounding in the canals. The amount of these may be realized from the large numbers contained in the mud recently thrown out, as seen in the upper section of Fig. 95, where the pebbly appearance of the surface is caused by snail shells. In the lower section of the same illustration the white spots are snail shells exposed in the soil of a recently spaded field. The shells are by no means as numerous generally as here seen but yet sufficient to maintain the supply of lime.

Several species of these snails are collected in quantities and used as food. Piles containing bushels of the empty shells were seen along the canals outside the villages. The snails are cooked in the shell and often sold by measure to be eaten from the hand, as we buy roasted peanuts or popcorn. When a purchase is made the vender clips the spiral point from each shell with a pair of small shears. This admits air and permits the snail to be readily removed by suction when the lips are applied to the shell. In the canals there are also large numbers of fresh water eel, shrimp and crabs as well as fish, all of which are collected and used for human food. It is common, when walking through the canal country, to come upon groups of gleaners busy in the bottoms of the shallow agricultural canals, gathering anything which may serve as food, even including small bulbs or the fleshy roots of edible aquatic plants. To facilitate the collection of such food materials sections of the canal are often drained in the manner already described, so that gleaning may be done by hand, wading in the mud. Families living in houseboats make a business of fishing for shrimp. They trail behind the houseboat one or two other boats carrying hundreds of shrimp traps cleverly constructed in such manner that when they are trailed along the bottom and disturb the shrimps they dart into the holes in the trap, mistaking them for safe hiding places.

On the streets, especially during festival days, one may see young people and others in social intercourse, busying their fingers and their teeth eating cooked snails or often watermelon seeds, which are extensively sold and thus eaten. This custom we saw first in the streets of a city south of Kashing on the line of the new railway between Hangchow and Shanghai. The first passenger train over the line had been run the day before our visit, which was a festival day and throngs of people were visiting the nine-story pagoda standing on a high hill a mile outside the city limits. The day was one of great surprises to these people who had never before seen a passenger train, and my own person appeared to be a great curiosity to many. No boy ever scrutinized the face of a caged chimpanzee closer, with purer curiosity, or with less consideration for his feelings than did a woman of fifty scrutinize mine, standing close in front, not two feet distant, even bending forward as I sat upon a bench writing at the railway station. People would pass their hands along my coat sleeve to judge the cloth, and a boy felt of my shoes. Walking through the street we passed many groups gathered about tables and upon seats, visiting or in business conference, their fingers occupied with watermelon seeds or with packages of cooked snails. Along the pathway leading to the pagoda beggars had distributed themselves, one in a place, at intervals of two or three hundred feet, asking alms, most of them infirm with age or in some other way physically disabled. We saw but one who appeared capable of earning a living.

Travel between Shanghai and Hangchow at this time was heavy. Three companies were running trains, of six or more houseboats, each towed by a steam launch, and these were daily crowded with passengers. Our train left Shanghai at 4:30 P. M., reaching Hangchow at 5:30 P. M. the following day, covering a distance along the canal of something more than 117 miles. We paid $5.16, gold, for the exclusive use of a first-cabin, five-berth stateroom for myself and interpreter. It occupied the full width of the boat, lacking about fourteen inches of footway, and could be entered from either side down a flight of five steps. The berths were flat, naked wooden shelves thirty inches wide, separated by a partition headboard six inches high and without railing in front. Each traveler provided his own bedding. A small table upon which meals were served, a mirror on one side and a lamp on the other, set in an opening in the partition, permitting it to serve two staterooms, completed the furnishings. The roof of the staterooms was covered with an awning and divided crosswise into two tiers of berths, each thirty inches wide, by board partitions six inches high. In these sections passengers spread their beds, sleeping heads together, separated only by a headboard six inches high. The awning was only sufficiently high to permit passengers to sit erect. Ventilation was ample but privacy was nil. Curtains could be dropped around the sides in stormy weather.

Meals were served to each passenger wherever he might be. Dinner consisted of hot steamed rice brought in very heavy porcelain bowls set inside a covered, wet, steaming hot wooden case. With the rice were tiny dishes, butterchip size, of green clover, nicely cooked and seasoned; of cooked bean curd served with shredded bamboo sprouts; of tiny pork strips with bean curd; of small bits of liver with bamboo sprouts; of greens, and hot water for tea. If the appetite is good one may have a second helping of rice and as much hot water for tea as desired. There was no table linen, no napkins and everything but the tea had to be negotiated with chop sticks, or, these failing, with the fingers. When the meal was finished the table was cleared and water, hot if desired, was brought for your hand basin, which with tea, teacup and bedding, constitute part of the traveler’s outfit. At frequent intervals, up to ten P. M., a crier walked about the deck with hot water for those who might desire an extra cup of tea, and again in the early morning.

At this season of the year Chinese incubators were being run to their full capacity and it was our good fortune to visit one of these, escorted by Rev. R. A. Haden, who also acted as interpreter. The art of incubation is very old and very extensively practiced in China. An interior view of one of these establishments is shown in Fig. 96, where the family were hatching the eggs of hens, ducks and geese, purchasing the eggs and selling the young as hatched. As in the case of so many trades in China, this family was the last generation of a long line whose lives had been spent in the same work. We entered through their store, opening on the street of the narrow village seen in Fig. 10. In the store the eggs were purchased and the chicks were sold, this work being in charge of the women of the family. It was in the extreme rear of the home that thirty incubators were installed, all doing duty and each having a capacity of 1,200 hens’ eggs. Four of these may be seen in the illustration and one of the baskets which, when two-thirds filled with eggs, is set inside of each incubator.

Each incubator consists of a large earthenware jar having a door cut in one side through which live charcoal may be introduced and the fire partly smothered under a layer of ashes, this serving as the source of heat. The jar is thoroughly insulated, cased in basketwork and provided with a cover, as seen in the illustration. Inside the outer jar rests a second of nearly the same size, as one teacup may in another. Into this is lowered the large basket with its 600 hens’ eggs, 400 ducks’ eggs or 175 geese’ eggs, as the case may be. Thirty of these incubators were arranged in two parallel rows of fifteen each. Immediately above each row, and utilizing the warmth of the air rising from them, was a continuous line of finishing hatchers and brooders in the form of woven shallow trays with sides warmly padded with cotton and with the tops covered with sets of quilts of different thickness.

After a basket of hens’ eggs has been incubated four days it is removed and the eggs examined by lighting, to remove those which are infertile before they have been rendered unsalable. The infertile eggs go to the store and the basket is returned to the incubator. Ducks’ eggs are similarly examined after two days and again after five days incubation; and geese’ eggs after six days and again after fourteen days. Through these precautions practically all loss from infertile eggs is avoided and from 95 to 98 per cent of the fertile eggs are hatched, the infertile eggs ranging from 5 to 25 per cent.

After the fourth day in the incubator all eggs are turned five times in twenty-four hours. Hens’ eggs are kept in the lower incubator eleven days; ducks’ eggs thirteen days, and geese’ eggs sixteen days, after which they are transferred to the trays. Throughout the incubation period the most careful watch and control is kept over the temperature. No thermometer is used but the operator raises the lid or quilt, removes an egg, pressing the large end into the eye socket. In this way a large contact is made where the skin is sensitive, nearly constant in temperature, but little below blood heat and from which the air is excluded for the time. Long practice permits them thus to judge small differences of temperature expeditiously and with great accuracy; and they maintain different temperatures during different stages of the incubation. The men sleep in the room and some one is on duty continuously, making the rounds of the incubators and brooders, examining and regulating each according to its individual needs, through the management of the doors or the shifting of the quilts over the eggs in the brooder trays where the chicks leave the eggs and remain until they go to the store. In the finishing trays the eggs form rather more than one continuous layer but the second layer does not cover more than a fifth or a quarter of the area. Hens’ eggs are in these trays ten days, ducks’ and geese’ eggs, fourteen days.

After the chickens have been hatched sufficiently long to require feeding they are ready for market and are then sorted according to sex and placed in separate shallow woven trays thirty inches in diameter. The sorting is done rapidly and accurately through the sense of touch, the operator recognizing the sex by gently pinching the anus. Four trays of young chickens were in the store fronting on the street as we entered and several women were making purchases, taking five to a dozen each. Dr. Haden informed me that nearly every family in the cities, and in the country villages raise a few, but only a few, chickens and it is a common sight to see grown chickens walking about the narrow streets, in and out of the open stores, dodging the feet of the occupants and passers-by. At the time of our visit this family was paying at the rate of ten cents, Mexican, for nine hens’ and eight ducks’ eggs, and were selling their largest strong chickens at three cents each. These figures, translated into our currency, make the purchase price for eggs nearly 48 cents, and the selling price for the young chicks $1.29, per hundred, or thirteen eggs for six cents and seven chickens for nine cents.

It is difficult even to conceive, not to say measure, the vast import of this solution of how to maintain, in the millions of homes, a constantly accessible supply of absolutely fresh and thoroughly sanitary animal food in the form of meat and eggs. The great density of population in these countries makes the problem of supplying eggs to the people very different from that in the United States. Our 250,600,000 fowl in 1900 was at the rate of three to each person but in Japan, with her 16,500,000 fowl, she had in 1906 but one for every three people. Her number per square mile of cultivated land however was 825, while in the United States, in 1900, the number of fowls per square mile of improved farm land was but 387. To give to Japan three fowls to each person there would needs be an average of about nine to each acre of her cultivated land, whereas in the United States there were in 1900 nearly two acres of improved farm land for each fowl. We have no statistics regarding the number of fowl in China or the number of eggs produced but the total is very large and she exports to Japan. The large boat load of eggs seen in Fig. 97 had just arrived from the country, coming into Shanghai in one of her canals.

Besides applying canal mud directly to the fields in the ways described there are other very extensive practices of composting it with organic matter of one or another kind and of then using the compost on the fields. The next three illustrations show some of the steps and something of the tremendous labor of body, willingly and cheerfully incurred, and something of the forethought practiced, that homes may be maintained and that grandparents, parents, wives and children need neither starve nor beg. We had reached a place seen in Fig. 98, where eight bearers were moving winter compost to a recently excavated pit in an adjoining field shown in Fig. 99.

Four months before the camera fixed the activity shown, men had brought waste from the stables of Shanghai fifteen miles by water, depositing it upon the canal bank between layers of thin mud dipped from the canal, and left it to ferment. The eight men were removing this compost to the pit seen in Fig. 99, then nearly filled. Near by in the same field was a second pit seen in Fig. 100, excavated three feet deep and rimmed about with the earth removed, making it two feet deeper.

After these pits had been filled the clover which was in blossom beyond the pits would be cut and stacked upon them to a height of five to eight feet and this also saturated, layer by layer, with mud brought from the canal, and allowed to ferment twenty to thirty days until the juices set free had been absorbed by the winter compost beneath, helping to carry the ripening of that still further, and until the time had arrived for fitting the ground for the next crop. This organic matter, fermented with the canal mud, would then be distributed by the men over the field, carried a third time on their shoulders, notwithstanding its weight was many tons.

This manure had been collected, loaded and carried fifteen miles by water; it had been unloaded upon the bank and saturated with canal mud; the field had been fitted for clover the previous fall and seeded; the pits had been dug in the fields; the winter compost had been carried and placed in the pits; the clover was to be cut, carried by the men on their shoulders, stacked layer by layer and saturated with mud dipped from the canal; the whole would later be distributed over the field and finally the earth removed from the pits would be returned to them, that the service of no ground upon which a crop might grow should be lost.

Such are the tasks to which Chinese farmers hold themselves, because they are convinced desired results will follow, because their holdings are so small and their families so large. These practices are so extensive in China and so fundamental in the part they play in the maintenance of high productive power in their soils that we made special effort to follow them through different phases. In Fig. 101 we saw the preparation being made to build one of the clover compost stacks saturated with canal mud. On the left the thin mud had been dipped from the canal; way-farers in the center were crossing the foot-bridge of the country by-way; and beyond rises the conical thatch to shelter the water buffalo when pumping for irrigating the rice crop to be fed with this plant food in preparation. On the right were two large piles of green clover freshly cut and a woman of the family at one of them was spreading it to receive the mud, while the men-folk were coming from the field with more clover on their carrying poles. We came upon this scene just before the dinner hour and after the workers had left another photograph was taken at closer range and from a different side, giving the view seen in Fig. 102. The mud had been removed some days and become too stiff to spread, so water was being brought from the canal in the pails at the right for reducing its consistency to that of a thin porridge, permitting it to more completely smear and saturate the clover. The stack grew, layer by layer, each saturated with the mud, tramped solid with the bare feet, trousers rolled high. Provision had been made here for building four other stacks.

Further along we came upon the scene in Fig. 103 where the building of the stack of compost and the gathering of the mud from the canal were simultaneous. On one side of the canal the son, using a clam-shell form of dipper made of basket-work, which could be opened and shut with a pair of bamboo handles, had nearly filled the middle section of his boat with the thin ooze, while on the other side, against the stack which was building, the mother was emptying a similar boat, using a large dipper, also provided with a bamboo handle. The man on the stack is a good scale for judging its size.

We came next upon a finished stack on the bank of another canal, shown in Fig. 104, where our umbrella was set to serve as a scale. This stack measured ten by ten feet on the ground, was six feet high and must have contained more than twenty tons of the green compost. At the same place, two other stacks had been started, each about fourteen by fourteen feet, and foundations were laid for six others, nine in all.

During twenty or more days this green nitrogenous organic matter is permitted to lie fermenting in contact with the fine soil particles of the ooze with which it had been charged. This is a remarkable practice in that it is a very old, intensive application of an important fundamental principle only recently understood and added to the science of agriculture, namely, the power of organic matter, decaying rapidly in contact with soil, to liberate from it soluble plant food; and so it would be a great mistake to say that these laborious practices are the result of ignorance, of a lack of capacity for accurate thinking or of power to grasp and utilize. If the agricultural lands of the United States are ever called upon to feed even 1200 millions of people, a number proportionately less than one-half that being fed in Japan today, very different practices from those we are now following will have been adopted. We can believe they will require less human bodily effort and be more efficient. But the knowledge which can make them so is not yet in the possession of our farmers, much less the conviction that plant feeding and more persistent and better directed soil management are necessary to such yields as will then be required.

Later, just before the time for transplanting rice, we returned to the same district to observe the manner of applying this compost to the field, and Fig. 105 is prepared from photographs taken then, illustrating the activities of one family, as seen during the morning of May 28th. Their home was in a near-by village and their holding was divided into four nearly rectangular paddies, graded to water level, separated by raised rims, and having an area of nearly two acres. Three of these little fields are partly shown in the illustration, and the fourth in Fig. 160. In the background of the upper section of Fig. 105, and under the thatched shelter, was a native Chinese cow, blindfolded and hitched to the power-wheel of a large wooden-chain pump, lifting water from the canal and flooding the field in the foreground, to soften the soil for plowing. Riding on the power-wheel was a girl of some twelve years, another of seven and a baby. They were there for entertainment and to see that the cow kept at work. The ground had been sufficiently softened so that the father had begun plowing, the cow sinking to her knees as she walked. In the same paddy, but shown in the section below, a boy was spreading the clover compost with his hands, taking care that it was finely divided and evenly scattered. He had been once around before the plowing began. This compost had been brought from a stack by the side of a canal, and two other men were busy still bringing the material to one of the other paddies, one of whom, with his baskets on the carrying pole appears in the third section. Between these two paddies was the one seen at the bottom of the illustration, which had matured a crop of rape that had been pulled and was lying in swaths ready to be moved. Two other men were busy here, gathering the rape into large bundles and carrying it to the village home, where the women were threshing out the seed, taking care not to break the stems which, after threshing, were tied into bundles for fuel. The seed would be ground and from it an oil expressed, while the cake would be used as a fertilizer.

This crop of rape is remarkable for the way it fits into the economies of these people. It is a near relative of mustard and cabbage; it grows rapidly during the cooler portions of the season, the spring crop ripening before the planting of rice and cotton; its young shoots and leaves are succulent, nutritious, readily digested and extensively used as human food, boiled and eaten fresh, or salted for winter use, to be served with rice; the mature stems, being woody, make good fuel; and it bears a heavy crop of seed, rich in oil, which has been extensively used for lights and in cooking, while the rape seed cake is highly prized as a manure and very extensively so used.

In the early spring the country is luxuriantly green with the large acreage of rape, later changing to a sea of most brilliant yellow and finally to an ashy grey when the leaves fall and the stems and pods ripen. Like the dairy cow, rape produces a fat, in the ratio of about forty pounds of oil to a hundred pounds of seed, which may be eaten, burned or sold without materially robbing the soil of its fertility if the cake and the ashes from the stems are returned to the fields, the carbon, hydrogen and oxygen of which the oil is almost wholly composed coming from the atmosphere rather than from the soil.

In Japan rape is grown as a second crop on both the upland and paddy fields, and in 1906 she produced more than 5,547,000 bushels of the seed; $1,845,000 worth of rape seed cake, importing enough more to equal a total value of $2,575,000, all of which was used as a fertilizer, the oil being exported. The yield of seed per acre in Japan ranges between thirteen and sixteen bushels, and the farmer whose field was photographed estimated that his returns from the crop would be at the rate of 640 pounds of seed per acre, worth $6.19, and 8,000 pounds of stems worth as fuel $5.16 per acre.



One of the most remarkable agricultural practices adopted by any civilized people is the centuries-long and well nigh universal conservation and utilization of all human waste in China, Korea and Japan, turning it to marvelous account in the maintenance of soil fertility and in the production of food. To understand this evolution it must be recognized that mineral fertilizers so extensively employed in modern western agriculture, like the extensive use of mineral coal, had been a physical impossibility to all people alike until within very recent years. With this fact must be associated the very long unbroken life of these nations and the vast numbers their farmers have been compelled to feed.

When we reflect upon the depleted fertility of our own older farm lands, comparatively few of which have seen a century’s service, and upon the enormous quantity of mineral fertilizers which are being applied annually to them in order to secure paying yields, it becomes evident that the time is here when profound consideration should be given to the practices the Mongolian race has maintained through many centuries, which permit it to be said of China that one-sixth of an acre of good land is ample for the maintenance of one person, and which are feeding an average of three people per acre of farm land in the three southernmost of the four main islands of Japan.

From the analyses of mixed human excreta made by Wolff in Europe and by Kellner in Japan it appears that, as an average, these carry in every 2000 pounds 12.7 pounds of nitrogen, 4 pounds of potassium and 1.7 pounds of phosphorus. On this basis and that of Carpenter, who estimates the average amount of excreta per day for the adult at 40 ounces, the average annual production per million of adult population is 5,794,300 pounds of nitrogen; 1,825,000 pounds of potassium, and 775,600 pounds of phosphorus carried in 456,250 tons of excreta. The figures which Hall cites in Fertilizers and Manures, would make these amounts 7,940,000 pounds of nitrogen; 3,070,500 pounds of potassium, and 1,965,600 pounds of phosphorus, but the figures he takes and calls high averages give 12,000,000 of nitrogen; 4,151,000 pounds of potassium, and 3,057,600 pounds of phosphorus.

In 1908 the International Concessions of the city of Shanghai sold to one Chinese contractor for $31,000, gold, the privilege of collecting 78,000 tons of human waste, under stipulated regulations, and of removing it to the country for sale to farmers. The flotilla of boats seen in Fig. 106 is one of several engaged daily in Shanghai throughout the year in this service.

Dr. Kawaguchi, of the National Department of Agriculture and Commerce, taking his data from their records, informed us that the human manure saved and applied to the fields of Japan in 1908 amounted to 23,850,295 tons, which is an average of 1.75 tons per acre of their 21,321 square miles of cultivated land in their four main islands.

On the basis of the data of Wolff, Kellner and Carpenter, or of Hall, the people of the United States and of Europe are pouring into the sea, lakes or rivers and into the underground waters from 5,794,300 to 12,000,000 pounds of nitrogen; 1,881,900 to 4,151,000 pounds of potassium, and 777,200 to 3,057,600 pounds of phosphorus per million of adult population annually, and this waste we esteem one of the great achievements of our civilization. In the Far East, for more than thirty centuries, these enormous wastes have been religiously saved and today the four hundred million of adult population send back to their fields annually 150,000 tons of phosphorus; 376,000 tons of potassium, and 1,158,000 tons of nitrogen comprised in a gross weight exceeding 182 million tons, gathered from every home, from the country villages and from the great cities like Hankow-Wuchang-Hanyang with its 1,770,000 people swarming on a land area delimited by a radius of four miles.

Man is the most extravagant accelerator of waste the world has ever endured. His withering blight has fallen upon every living thing within his reach, himself not excepted; and his besom of destruction in the uncontrolled hands of a generation has swept into the sea soil fertility which only centuries of life could accumulate, and yet this fertility is the substratum of all that is living. It must be recognized that the phosphate deposits which we are beginning to return to our fields are but measures of fertility lost from older soils, and indices of processes still in progress. The rivers of North America are estimated to carry to the sea more than 500 tons of phosphorus with each cubic mile of water. To such loss modern civilization is adding that of hydraulic sewage disposal through which the waste of five hundred millions of people might be more than 194,300 tons of phosphorus annually, which could not be replaced by 1,295,000 tons of rock phosphate, 75 per cent pure. The Mongolian races, with a population now approaching the figure named; occupying an area little more than one-half that of the United States, tilling less than 800,000 square miles of land, and much of this during twenty, thirty or perhaps forty centuries; unable to avail themselves of mineral fertilizers, could not survive and tolerate such waste. Compelled to solve the problem of avoiding such wastes, and exercising the faculty which is characteristic of the race, they “cast down their buckets where they were”, as

*A ship lost at sea for many days suddenly sighted a friendly vessel. From the mast of the unfortunate vessel was seen a signal, “Water, water; we die of thirst!” The answer from the friendly vessel at once came back, “Cast down your bucket where you are.” A second time the signal, “Water, water; Send us water!” ran up from the distressed vessel, and was answered, “Cast down your bucket where you are.” And a third and fourth signal for water was answered, “Cast down your bucket where you are.” The captain of the distressed vessel, at last heeding the injunction, cast down his bucket, and it came up full of fresh sparkling water from the mouth of the Amazon river. *Booker T. Washington, Atlanta address.

Not even in great cities like Canton, built in the meshes of tideswept rivers and canals; like Hankow on the banks of one of the largest rivers in the world; nor yet in modern Shanghai, Yokohama or Tokyo, is such waste permitted. To them such a practice has meant race suicide and they have resisted the temptation so long that it has ceased to exist.

Dr. Arthur Stanley, Health officer of the city of Shanghai, in his annual report for 1899, considering this subject as a municipal problem, wrote:

“Regarding the bearing on the sanitation of Shanghai of the relationship between Eastern and Western hygiene, it may be said, that if prolonged national life is indicative of sound sanitation, the Chinese are a race worthy of study by all who concern themselves with Public Health. Even without the returns of a Registrar-General it is evident that in China the birth rate must very considerably exceed the death rate, and have done so in an average way during the three or four thousand years that the Chinese nation has existed. Chinese hygiene, when compared with medieval English, appears to advantage. The main problem of sanitation is to cleanse the dwelling day by day, and if this can be done at a profit so much the better. While the ultra-civilized Western elaborates destructors for burning garbage at a financial loss and turns sewage into the sea, the Chinaman uses both for manure. He wastes nothing while the sacred duty of agriculture is uppermost in his mind. And in reality recent bacterial work has shown that faecal matter and house refuse are best destroyed by returning them to clean soil, where natural purification takes place. The question of destroying garbage can, I think, under present conditions in Shanghai, be answered in a decided negative. While to adopt the water-carriage system for sewage and turn it into the river, whence the water supply is derived, would be an act of sanitary suicide. It is best, therefore, to make use of what is good in Chinese hygiene, which demands respect, being, as it is, the product of an evolution extending from more than a thousand years before the Christian era.”

The storage of such waste in China is largely in stoneware receptacles such as are seen in Fig. 109, which are hard-burned, glazed terra-cotta urns, having capacities ranging from 500 to 1000 pounds. Japan more often uses sheltered cement-lined pits such as are seen in Fig. 110.

In the three countries the carrying to the fields is oftenest in some form of pail, as seen in Fig. 111, a pair of which are borne swinging from the carrying pole. In applying the liquid to the field or garden the long handle dipper is used, seen in Fig. 112.

We are beginning to husband with some economy the waste from our domestic animals but in this we do not approach that of China, Korea and Japan. People in China regularly search for and collect droppings along the country and caravan roads. Repeatedly, when walking through city streets, we observed such materials quickly and apparently eagerly gathered, to be carefully stored under conditions which ensure small loss from either leaching or unfavorable fermentation. In some mulberry orchards visited the earth had been carefully hoed back about the trunks of trees to a depth of three or four inches from a circle having a diameter of six to eight feet, and upon these areas were placed the droppings of silkworms, the moulted skins, together with the bits of leaves and stem left after feeding. Some disposition of such waste must be made. They return at once to the orchard all but the silk produced from the leaves; unnecessary loss is thus avoided and the material enters at once the service of forcing the next crop of leaves.

On the farm of Mrs. Wu, near Kashing, while studying the operation of two irrigation pumps driven by two cows, lifting water to flood her twenty-five acres of rice field preparatory to transplanting, we were surprised to observe that one of the duties of the lad who had charge of the animals was to use a six-quart wooden dipper with a bamboo handle six feet long to collect all excreta, before they fell upon the ground, and transfer them to a receptacle provided for the purpose. There came a flash of resentment that such a task was set for the lad, for we were only beginning to realize to what lengths the practice of economy may go, but there was nothing irksome suggested in the boy’s face. He performed the duty as a matter of course and as we thought it through there was no reason why it should have been otherwise. In fact, the only right course was being taken. Conditions would have been worse if the collection had not been made. It made possible more rice. Character of substantial quality was building in the lad which meant thrift in the growing man and continued life for the nation.

We have adverted to the very small number of flies observed anywhere in the course of our travel, but its significance we did not realize until near the end of our stay. Indeed, for some reason, flies were more in evidence during the first two days on the steamship, out from Yokohama on our return trip to America, than at any time before on our journey. It is to be expected that the eternal vigilance which seizes every waste, once it has become such, putting it in places of usefulness, must contribute much toward the destruction of breeding places, and it may be these nations have been mindful of the wholesomeness of their practice and that many phases of the evolution of their waste disposal system have been dictated by and held fast to through a clear conception of sanitary needs.

Much intelligence and the highest skill are exhibited by these old-world farmers in the use of their wastes. In Fig. 113 is one of many examples which might be cited. The man walking down the row with his manure pails swinging from his shoulders informed us on his return that in his household there were twenty to be fed; that from this garden of half an acre of land he usually sold a product bringing in $400, Mexican,—$172, gold. The crop was cucumbers in groups of two rows thirty inches apart and twenty-four inches between the groups. The plants were eight to ten inches apart in the row. He had just marketed the last of a crop of greens which occupied the space between the rows of cucumbers seen under the strong, durable, light and very readily removable trellises. On May 28 the vines were beginning to run, so not a minute had been lost in the change of crop. On the contrary this man had added a month to his growing season by over-lapping his crops, and the trellises enabled him to feed more plants of this type than there was room for vines on the ground. With ingenuity and much labor he had made his half acre for cucumbers equivalent to more than two. He had removed the vines entirely from the ground; had provided a travel space two feet wide, down which he was walking, and he had made it possible to work about the roots of every plant for the purpose of hoeing and feeding. Four acres of cucumbers handled by American field methods would not yield more than this man’s one, and he grows besides two other crops the same season.

The difference is not so much in activity of muscle as it is in alertness and efficiency of the grey matter of the brain. He sees and treats each plant individually, he loosens the ground so that his liquid manure drops immediately beneath the surface within reach of the active roots. If the rainfall has been scanty and the soil is dry he may use ten of water to two of night soil, not to supply water but to make certain sufficiently deep penetration. If the weather is rainy and the soil over wet, the food is applied more concentrated, not to lighten the burden but to avoid waste by leaching and over saturation. While ever crowding growth he never overfeeds. Forethought, after-thought and the mind focused on the work in hand are characteristic of these people. We do not recall to have seen a man smoking while at work. They enjoy smoking, but prefer to do this also with the attention undivided and thus get more for their money.

On another date earlier in May we were walking in the fields without an interpreter. For half an hour we stood watching an old gardener fitting the soil with his spading hoe in the manner seen in Fig. 26, where the graves of his ancestors occupy a part of the land. Angleworms were extremely numerous, as large around as an ordinary lead pencil and, when not extended, two-thirds as long, decidedly greenish in color. Nearly every stroke of the spade exposed two to five of these worms but so far as we observed, and we watched the man closely, pulverizing the soil, he neither injured nor left uncovered a single worm. While he seemed to make no effort to avoid injuring them or to cover them with earth, and while we could not talk with him, we are convinced that his action was continually guarded against injuring the worms.

They certainly were subsoiling his garden deeply and making possible a freer circulation of air far below the surface. Their great abundance proved a high content of organic matter present in the soil and, as the worms ate their way through it, passing the soil through their bodies, the yearly volume of work done by them was very great. In the fields flooded preparatory to fitting them for rice these worms are forced to the surface in enormous numbers and large flocks of ducks are taken to such fields to feed upon them.

In another field a crop of barley was nearing maturity. An adjacent strip of land was to be fitted and planted. The leaning barley heads were in the way. Not one must be lost and every inch of ground must be put to use. The grain along the margin, for a breadth of sixteen inches, had been gathered into handfuls and skillfully tied, each with an unpulled barley stem, without breaking the straw, thus permitting even the grains in that head to fill and be gathered with the rest, while the tying set all straws well aslant, out of the way, and permitted the last inch of naked ground to be fitted without injuring the grain.

In still another instance a man was growing Irish potatoes to market when yet small. He had enriched his soil; he would apply water if the rains were not timely and sufficient, and had fed the plants. He had planted in rows only twelve to fourteen inches apart with a hill every eight inches in the row. The vines stood strong, straight, fourteen inches high and as even as a trimmed hedge. The leaves and stems were turgid, the deepest green and as prime and glossy as a prize steer. So close were the plants that there was leaf surface to intercept the sunshine falling on every square inch of the patch. There were no potato beetles and we saw no signs of injury but the gardener was scanning the patch with the eye of a robin. He spied the slightest first drooping of leaves in a stem; went after the difficulty and brought and placed in our hand a cutworm, a young tuber the size of a marble and a stem cut half off, which he was willing to sacrifice because of our evident interest. But the two friends who had met were held apart by the babel of tongues.

Nothing is costing the world more; has made so many enemies, and has so much hindered the forming of friendships as the inability to fully understand; hence the dove that brings world peace must fly on the wings of a common language, and the bright star in the east is world commerce, rising on rapidly developing railway and steamship lines, heralded and directed by electric communication. With world commerce must come mutual confidence and friendship requiring a full understanding and therefore a common tongue. Then world peace will be permanently assured. It is coming inevitably and faster than we think. Once this desired end is seriously sought, the carrying of three generations of children through the public schools where the world language is taught together with the mother tongue, and the passing of the parents and grandparents, would effect the change.

The important point regarding these Far East people, to which attention should be directed, is that effective thinking, clear and strong, prevails among the farmers who have fed and are still feeding the dense populations from the products of their limited areas. This is further indicated in the universal and extensive use of plant ashes derived from fuel grown upon cultivated fields and upon the adjacent hill and mountain lands.

We were unable to secure exact data regarding the amount of fuel burned annually in these countries, and of ashes used as fertilizer, but a cord of dry oak wood weighs about 3500 pounds, and the weight of fuel used in the home and in manufactures must exceed that of two cords per household. Japan has an average of 5.563 people per family. If we allow but 1300 pounds of fuel per capita, Japan’s consumption would be 31,200,000 tons. In view of the fact that a very large share of the fuel used in these countries is either agricultural plant stems, with an average ash content of 5 per cent, or the twigs and even leaves of trees, as in the case of pine bough fuel, 4.5 per cent of ash may be taken as a fair estimate. On this basis, and with a content of phosphorus equal to .5 per cent, and of potassium equal to 5 per cent, the fuel ash for Japan would amount to 1,404,000 tons annually, carrying 7020 tons of phosphorus and 70,200 tons of potassium, together with more than 400,000 tons of limestone, which is returned annually to less than 21,321 square miles of cultivated land.

In China, with her more than four hundred millions of people, a similar rate of fuel consumption would make the phosphorus and potassium returned to her fields more than eight times the amounts computed for Japan. On the basis of these statements Japan’s annual saving of phosphorus from the waste of her fuel would be equivalent to more than 46,800 tons of rock phosphate having a purity of 75 per cent, or in the neighborhood of seven pounds per acre. If this amount, even with the potash and limestone added, appears like a trifling addition of fertility it is important for Americans to remember that even if this is so, these people have felt compelled to make the saving.

In the matter of returning soluble potassium to the cultivated fields Japan would be applying with her ashes the equivalent of no less than 156,600 tons of pure potassium sulphate, equal to 23 pounds per acre; while the lime carbonate so applied annually would be some 62 pounds per acre.

In addition to the forest lands, which have long been made to contribute plant food to the cultivated fields through fuel ashes, there are large areas which contribute green manure and compost material. These are chiefly hill lands, aggregating some twenty per cent of the cultivated fields, which bear mostly herbaceous growth. Some 2,552,741 acres of these lands may be cut over three times each season, yielding, in 1903, an average of 7980 pounds per acre. The first cutting of this hill herbage is mainly used on the rice fields as green manure, it being tramped into the mud between the rows after the manner seen in Fig. 114.

This man had been with basket and sickle to gather green herbage wherever he could and had brought it to his rice paddy. The day in July was extremely sultry. We came upon him wading in the water half way to his knees, carefully laying the herbage he had gathered between alternate rows of his rice, one handful in a place, with tips overlapping. This done he took the attitude seen in the illustration and, gathering the materials into a compact bunch, pressed it beneath the surface with his foot. The two hands smoothed the soft mud over the grass and righted the disturbed spears of rice in the two adjacent hills. Thus, foot following foot, one bare length ahead, the succeeding bunches of herbage were submerged until the last had been reached, following between alternate rows only a foot apart, there being a hill every nine to ten inches in the row and the hands grasping and being drawn over every one in the paddy.

He was renting the land, paying therefor forty kan of rice per tan, and his usual yield was eighty kan. This is forty-four bushels of sixty pounds per acre. In unfavorable seasons his yield might be less but still his rent would be forty kan per tan unless it was clear that he had done all that could reasonably be expected of him in securing the crop. It is difficult for Americans to understand how it is possible for the will of man, even when spurred by the love of home and family, to hold flesh to tasks like these.

The second and third cuttings of herbage from the genya lands in Japan are used for the preparation of compost applied on the dry-land fields in the fall or in the spring of the following season. Some of these lands are pastured, but approximately 10,185,500 tons of green herbage grown and gathered from the hills contributes much of its organic matter and all of its ash to enrich the cultivated fields. Such wild growth areas in Japan are the commons of the near by villages, to which the people are freely admitted for the purpose of cutting the herbage. A fixed time may be set for cutting and a limit placed upon the amount which may be carried away, which is done in the manner seen in Fig. 115. It is well recognized by the people that this constant cutting and removal of growth from the hill lands, with no return, depletes the soils and reduces the amount of green herbage they are able to secure.

Through the kindness of Dr. Daikuhara of the Imperial Agricultural Experiment Station at Tokyo we are able to give the average composition of the green leaves and young stems of five of the most common wild species of plants cut for green manure in June. In each 1000 pounds the amount of water is 562.18 pounds; of organic matter, 382.68 pounds; of ash, 55.14 pounds; nitrogen, 4.78 pounds; potassium, 2.407 pounds, and phosphorus, .34 pound. On the basis of this composition and an aggregate yield of 10,185,500 tons, there would be annually applied to the cultivated fields 3463 tons of phosphorus and 24,516 tons of potassium derived from the genya lands.

In addition to this the run-off from both the mountain and the genya lands is largely used upon the rice fields, more than sixteen inches of water being applied annually to them in some prefectures. If such waters have the composition of river waters in North America, twelve inches of water applied to the rice fields of the three main islands would contribute no less than 1200 tons of phosphorus and 19,000 tons of potassium annually.

Dr. Kawaguchi, of the National Department of Agriculture and Commerce, informed us that in 1908 Japanese farmers prepared and applied to their fields 22,812,787 tons of compost manufactured from the wastes of cattle, horses, swine and poultry, combined with herbage, straw and other similar wastes and with soil, sod or mud from ditches and canals. The amount of this compost is sufficient to apply 1.78 tons per acre of cultivated land of the southern three main islands.

From data obtained at the Nara Experiment Station, the composition of compost as there prepared shows it to contain, in each 2000 pounds, 550 pounds of organic matter; 15.6 pounds of nitrogen; 8.3 pounds of potassium, and 5.24 pounds of phosphorus. On this basis 22,800,000 tons of compost will carry 59,700 tons of phosphorus and 94,600 tons of potassium. The construction of compost houses is illustrated in Fig. 116, reproduced from a large circular sent to farmers from the Nara Experiment Station, and an exterior of one at the Nara Station is given in Fig. 117.

This compost house is designed to serve two and a half acres. Its floor is twelve by eighteen feet, rendered watertight by a mixture of clay, lime and sand. The walls are of earth, one foot thick, and the roof is thatched with straw. Its capacity is sixteen to twenty tons, having a cash value of 60 yen, or $30. In preparing the stack, materials are brought daily and, spread over one side of the compost floor until the pile has attained a height of five feet. After one foot in depth has been laid and firmed, 1.2 inches of soil or mud is spread over the surface and the process repeated until full height has been attained. Water is added sufficient to keep the whole saturated and to maintain the temperature below that of the body. After the compost stacks have been completed they are permitted to stand five weeks in summer, seven weeks in winter, when they are forked over and transferred to the opposite side of the house.

If we state in round numbers the total nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium thus far enumerated which Japanese farmers apply or return annually to their twenty or twenty-one thousand square miles of cultivated fields, the case stands 385,214 tons of nitrogen, 91,656 tons of phosphorus and 255,778 tons of potassium. These values are only approximations and do not include the large volume and variety of fertilizers prepared from fish, which have long been used. Neither do they include the very large amount of nitrogen derived directly from the atmosphere through their long, extensive and persistent cultivation of soy beans and other legumes. Indeed, from 1903 to 1906 the average area of paddy field upon which was grown a second crop of green manure in the form of some legume was 6.8 per cent of the total area of such fields aggregating 11,000 square miles. In 1906 over 18 per cent of the upland fields also produced some leguminous crop, these fields aggregating between 9,000 and 10,000 square miles.

While the values which have been given above, expressing the sum total of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium applied annually to the cultivated fields of Japan may be somewhat too high for some of the sources named, there is little doubt that Japanese farmers apply to their fields more of these three plant food elements annually than has been computed. The amounts which have been given are sufficient to provide annually, for each acre of the 21,321 square miles of cultivated land, an application of not less than 56 pounds of nitrogen, 13 pounds of phosphorus and 37 pounds of potassium. Or, if we omit the large northern island of Hokkaido, still new in its agriculture and lacking the intensive practices of the older farm land, the quantities are sufficient for a mean application of 60, 14 and 40 pounds respectively of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium per acre, and yet the maturing of 1000 pounds of wheat crop, covering grain and straw as water-free substance, removes from the soil but 13.9 pounds of nitrogen, 2.3 pounds of phosphorus and 8.4 pounds of potassium, from which it may be computed that the 60 pounds of nitrogen added is sufficient for a crop yielding 31 bushels of wheat; the phosphorus is sufficient for a crop of 44 bushels, and the potassium for a crop of 35 bushels per acre. Dr. Hopkins, in his recent valuable work on “Soil Fertility and Permanent Agriculture” gives, on page 154, a table from which we abstract the following data:

Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium,
pounds. pounds. pounds.
100 bush. crop of corn 148 23 71
100 bush. crop of oats 97 16 68
50 bush. crop of wheat 96 16 58
25 bush. crop of soy beans 159 21 73
100 bush. crop of rice 155 18 95
3 ton crop of timothy hay 72 9 71
4 ton crop of clover hay 160 20 120
3 ton crop of cow pea hay 130 14 98
8 ton crop of alfalfa hay 400 36 192
7000 lb. crop of cotton 168 29.4 82
400 bush. crop of potatoes 84 17.3 120
20 ton crop of sugar beets 100 18 157
Annually applied in Japan, more than 60 14 40

We have inserted in this table, for comparison, the crop of rice, and have increased the crop of potatoes from three hundred bushels to four hundred bushels per acre, because such a yield, like all of those named, is quite practicable under good management and favorable seasons, notwithstanding the fact that much smaller yields are generally attained through lack of sufficient plant food or water. From this table, assuming that a crop of matured grain contains 11 per cent of water and the straw 15 per cent, while potatoes contain 79 per cent and beets 87 per cent, the amounts of the three plant food elements removable annually by 1000 pounds of crop have been calculated and stated in the next table.

Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium,
pounds. pounds. pounds.
Wheat 13.873 2.312 8.382
Oats 13.666 2.254 9.580
Corn 13.719 2.149 6.676
Soy beans 30.807 4.070 14.147
Cow peas 25.490 2.745 19.216
Clover 23.529 2.941 17.647
Alfalfa 29.411 2.647 14.118
Beets 19.213 3.462 30.192
Potatoes 15.556 3.210 22.222
Timothy 14.117 1.765 13.922
Rice 9.949 1.129 6.089

From the amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium applied annually to the cultivated fields of Japan and from the data in these two tables it may be readily seen that these people are now and probably long have been applying quite as much of these three plant food elements to their fields with each planting as are removed with the crop, and if this is true in Japan it must also be true in China. Moreover there is nothing in American agricultural practice which indicates that we shall not ultimately be compelled to do likewise.



On May 15th we left Shanghai by one of the coastwise steamers for Tsingtao, some three hundred miles farther north, in the Shantung Province, our object being to keep in touch with methods of tillage and fertilization, corresponding phases of which would occur later in the season there.

The Shantung province is in the latitude of North Carolina and Kentucky, or lies between that of San Francisco and Los Angeles. It has an area of nearly 56,000 square miles, about that of Wisconsin. Less than one-half of this area is cultivated land yet it is at the present time supporting a population exceeding 38,000,000 of people. New York state has today less than ten millions and more than half of these are in New York city.

It was in this province that Confucius was born 2461 years ago, and that Mencius, his disciple, lived. Here, too, seventeen hundred years before Confucius’ time, after one of the great floods of the Yellow river, 2297 B. C., and more than 4100 years ago, the Great Yu was appointed “Superintendent of Public Works” and entrusted with draining off the flood waters and canalizing the rivers.

Here also was the beginning of the Boxer uprising. Tsingtao sits at the entrance of Kiaochow Bay. Following the war of Japan with China this was seized by Germany, November 14, 1897, nominally to indemnify for the murder of two German missionaries which had occurred in Shantung, and March 6th, 1898, this bay, to the high water line, its islands and a “Sphere of Influence” extending thirty miles in all directions from the boundary, together with Tsingtao, was leased to Germany for ninety-nine years. Russia demanded and secured a lease of Port Arthur at the same time. Great Britain obtained a similar lease of Weihaiwei in Shantung, while to France Kwangchow-wan in southern China, was leased. But the “encroachments” of European powers did not stop with these leases and during the latter part of 1898 the “Policy of Spheres of Influence” culminated in the international rivalry for railway concessions and mining. These greatly alarmed China and uprisings broke out very naturally first in Shantung, among the people nearest of kin to the founders of the Empire. As might have been expected of a patriotic, even though naturally peaceful people, they determined to defend their country against such encroachments and the Boxer troubles followed.

Tsingtao has a deep, commodious harbor always free from ice and Germany is constructing here very extensive and substantial harbor improvements which will be of lasting benefit to the province and the Empire. A pier four miles in length encloses the inner wharf, and a second wharf is nearing completion. Germany is also maintaining a meteorological observatory here and has established a large, comprehensive Forest Garden, under excellent management, which is showing remarkable developments for so short a time.

Our steamer entered the harbor during the night and, on going ashore, we soon found that only Chinese and German were generally spoken; but through the kind assistance of Rev. W. H. Scott, of the American Presbyterian Mission, an interpreter promised to call at my hotel in the evening, although he failed to appear. The afternoon was spent at the Forest Garden and on the reforestation tract, which are under the supervision of Mr. Haas. The Forest Garden covers two hundred and seventy acres and the reforestation tract three thousand acres more. In the garden a great variety of forest and fruit trees and small fruits are being tried out with high promise of the most valuable results.

It was in the steep hills about Tsingtao that we first saw at close range serious soil erosion in China; and the returning of forest growth on hills nearly devoid of soil was here remarkable, in view of the long dry seasons which prevail from November to June, and Fig. 118 shows how destitute of soil the crests of granite hills may become and yet how the coming back of the forest growth may hasten as soon as it is no longer cut away. The rock going into decay, where this view was taken, is an extremely coarse crystalline granite, as may be seen in contrast with the watch, and it is falling into decay at a marvelous rate. Disintegration has penetrated the rock far below the surface and the large crystals are held together with but little more tenacity than prevails in a bed of gravel. Moisture and even roots penetrate it deeply and readily and the crystals fall apart with thrusts of the knife blade, the rock crumbling with the greatest freedom. Roadways have been extensively carved along the sides of the hills with the aid of only pick and shovel. Close examination of the rock shows that layers of sediment exist between the crystal faces, either washed down by percolating rain or formed through decomposition of the crystals in place. The next illustration, Fig. 119, shows how large the growth on such soils may be, and in Fig. 120 the vegetation and forest growth are seen coming back, closely covering just such soil surfaces and rock structure as are indicated in Figs. 118 and 119.

These views are taken on the reforestation tract at Tsingtao but most of the growth is volunteer, standing now protected by the German government in their effort to see what may be possible under careful supervision.

The loads of pine bough fuel represented in Fig. 80 were gathered from such hills and from such forest growth as are here represented, but on lands more distant from the city. But Tsingtao, with its forty thousand Chinese, and Kiaochow across the bay, with its one hundred and twenty thousand more, and other villages dotting the narrow plains, maintain a very great demand for such growth on the hill lands. The wonder is that forest growth has persisted at all and has contributed so much in the way of fuel.

Growing in the Forest Garden was a most beautiful wild yellow rose, native to Shantung, being used for landscape effect in the parking, and it ought to be widely introduced into other countries wherever it will thrive. It was growing as heavy borders and massive clumps six to eight feet high, giving a most wonderful effect, with its brilliant, dense cloud of the richest yellow bloom. The blossoms are single, fully as large as the Rosa rugosa, with the tips of the petals shading into the most dainty light straw yellow, while the center is a deep orange, the contrast being sufficient to show in the photograph from which Fig. 121 was prepared. Another beautiful and striking feature of this rose is the clustering of the blossoms in one-sided wreath-like sprays, sometimes twelve to eighteen inches long, the flowers standing close enough to even overlap.

The interpreter engaged for us failed to appear as per agreement so the next morning we took the early train for Tsinan to obtain a general view of the country and to note the places most favorable as points for field study. We had resolved also to make an effort to secure an interpreter through the American Presbyterian College at Tsinan. Leaving Tsingtao, the train skirts around the Kiaochow bay for a distance of nearly fifty miles, where we pass the city of the same name with its population of 120,000, which had an import and export trade in 1905 valued at over $24,000,000. At Sochen we passed through a coal mining district where coal was being brought to the cars in baskets carried by men. The coal on the loaded open cars was sprinkled with whitewash, serving as a seal to safe-guard against stealing during transit, making it so that none could be removed without the fact being revealed by breaking the seal. This practice is general in China and is applied to many commodities handled in bulk. We saw baskets of milled rice carried by coolies sealed with a pattern laid over the surface by sprinkling some colored powder upon it. Cut stone, corded for the market, was whitewashed in the same manner as the coal.

As we were approaching Weihsien, another city of 100,000 people, we identified one of the deeply depressed, centuries-old roadways, worn eight to ten feet deep, by chancing to see half a dozen teams passing along it as the train crossed. We had passed several and were puzzling to account for such peculiar erosion. The teams gave the explanation and thus connected our earlier reading with the concrete. Along these deep-cut roadways caravans may pass, winding through the fields, entirely unobserved unless one chances to be close along the line or the movement is discovered by clouds of dust, one of the methods that has produced them, and we would not be surprised if gathering manure from them has played a large part also.

Weihsien is near one of the great commercial highways of China and in the center of one of the coal mining regions of the province. Still further along towards Tsinan we passed Tsingchowfu, another of the large cities of the province, with 150,000 population. All day we rode through fields of wheat, always planted in rows, and in hills in the row east of Kaumi, but in single or double continuous drills westward from here to Tsinan. Thousands of wells used for irrigation, of the type seen in Fig. 123, were passed during the day, many of them recently dug to supply water for the barley suffering from the severe drought which was threatening the crop at the time.

It was 6:30 P. M. before our train pulled into the station at Tsinan; 7:30 when we had finished supper and engaged a ricksha to take us to the American Presbyterian College in quest of an interpreter. We could not speak Chinese, the ricksha boy could neither speak nor understand a word of English, but the hotel proprietor had instructed him where to go. We plunged into the narrow streets of a great Chinese city, the boy running wherever he could, walking where he must on account of the density of the crowds or the roughness of the stone paving. We had turned many corners, crossed bridges and passed through tunneled archways in sections of the massive city walls, until it was getting dusk and the ricksha man purchased and lighted a lantern. We were to reach the college in thirty minutes but had been out a full hour. A little later the boy drew up to and held conference with a policeman. The curious of the street gathered about and it dawned upon us that we were lost in the night in the narrow streets of a Chinese city of a hundred thousand people. To go further would be useless for the gates of the mission compound would be locked. We could only indicate by motions our desire to return, but these were not understood. On the train a thoughtful, kindly old German had recognized a stranger in a foreign land and volunteered useful information, cutting from his daily paper an advertisement describing a good hotel. This gave the name of the hotel in German, English and in Chinese characters. We handed this to the policeman, pointing to the name of the hotel, indicating by motions the desire to return, but apparently he was unable to read in either language and seemed to think we were assuming to direct the way to the college. A man and boy in the crowd apparently volunteered to act as escort for us. The throng parted and we left them, turned more corners into more unlighted narrow alleyways, one of which was too difficult to permit us to ride. The escorts, if such they were, finally left us, but the dark alley led on until it terminated at the blank face, probably of some other portion of the massive city wall we had thrice threaded through lighted tunnels. Here the ricksha boy stopped and turned about but the light from his lantern was too feeble to permit reading the workings of his mind through his face, and our tongues were both utterly useless in this emergency, so we motioned for him to turn back and by some route we reached the hotel at 11 P. M.

We abandoned the effort to visit the college, for the purpose of securing an interpreter, and took the early train back to Tsingtao, reaching there in time to secure the very satisfactory service of Mr. Chu Wei Yung, through the further kind offices of Mr. Scott. We had been twice over the road between the two cities, obtaining a general idea of the country and of the crops and field operations at this season. The next morning we took an early train to Tsangkau and were ready to walk through the fields and to talk with the last generations of more than forty unbroken centuries of farmers who, with brain and brawn, have successfully and continuously sustained large families on small areas without impoverishing their soil. The next illustration is from a photograph taken in one of these fields. We astonished the old farmer by asking the privilege of holding his plow through one round in his little field, but he granted the privilege readily. Our furrow was not as well turned as his, nor as well as we could have done with a two-handled Oliver or John Deere, but it was better than the old man had expected and won his respect.

This plow had a good steel point, as a separate, blunt, V-shaped piece, and a moldboard of cast steel with a good twist which turned the soil well. The standard and sole were of wood and at the end of the beam was a block for gauging the depth of furrow. The cost of this plow, to the farmer, was $2.15, gold, and when the day’s work is done it is taken home on the shoulders, even though the distance may be a mile or more, and carefully housed. Chinese history states that the plow was invented by Shennung, who lived 2737-2697 B. C. and “taught the art of agriculture and the medical use of herbs”. He is honored as the “God of Agriculture and Medicine.”

Through my interpreter we learned that there were twelve in this man’s family, which he maintained on fifteen mow of land, or 2.5 acres, together with his team, consisting of a cow and small donkey, besides feeding two pigs. This is at the rate of 192 people, 16 cows, 16 donkeys and 32 pigs on a forty-acre farm; and of a population density equivalent to 3072 people, 256 cows, 256 donkeys and 512 swine per square mile of cultivated field.

On another small holding we talked with the farmer standing at the well in Fig. 27, where he was irrigating a little piece of barley 30 feet wide and 138 feet long. He owned and was cultivating but one and two-thirds acres of land and yet there were ten in his family and he kept one donkey and usually one pig. Here is a maintenance capacity at the rate of 240 people, 24 donkeys and 24 pigs on a forty-acre farm; and a population density of 3840 people, 384 donkeys and 384 pigs per square mile. His usual annual sales in good seasons were equivalent in value to $73, gold.

In both of these cases the crops grown were wheat, barley, large and small millet, sweet potatoes and soy beans or peanuts. Much straw braid is manufactured in the province by the women and children in their homes, and the cargo of the steamer on which we returned to Shanghai consisted almost entirely of shelled peanuts in gunny sacks and huge bales of straw braid destined for the manufacture of hats in Europe and America.

Shantung has only moderate rainfall, little more than 24 inches annually, and this fact has played an important part in determining the agricultural practices of these very old people. In Fig. 123 is a closer view than Fig. 27 of the farmer watering his little field of barley. The well had just been dug over eight feet deep, expressly and solely to water this one piece of grain once, after which it would be filled and the ground planted.

The season had been unusually dry, as had been the one before, and the people were fearing famine. Only 2.44 inches of rain had fallen at Tsingtao between the end of the preceding October and our visit, May 21st, and hundreds of such temporary wells had been or were being dug all along both sides of the two hundred and fifty miles of railway, and nearly all to be filled when the crop on the ground was irrigated, to release the land for one to follow. The homes are in villages a mile or more apart and often the holdings or rentals are scattered, separated by considerable distances, hence easy portability is the key-note in the construction of this irrigating outfit. The bucket is very light, simply a woven basket waterproofed with a paste of bean flour. The windlass turns like a long spool on a single pin and the standard is a tripod with removable legs. Some wells we saw were sixteen or twenty feet deep and in these the water was raised by a cow walking straight away at the end of a rope.

The amount and distribution of rainfall in this province, as indicated by the mean of ten years’ records at Tsingtao, obtained at the German Meteorological Observatory through the courtesy of Dr. B. Meyermanns, are given in the table in which the rainfall of Madison, Wisconsin, is inserted for comparison.

    Mean monthly rainfall. Mean rainfall In 10 days.
Tsingtao, Madison, Tsingtao, Madison,
Inches. Inches. Inches. Inches.
January .394 1.56 .131 .520
February .240 1.50 .080 .500
March .892 2.12 .297 .707
April 1.240 2.62 .413 .840
May 1.636 3.62 .545 1.207
June 2.702 4.10 .901 1.866
July 6.637 3.90 2.212 1.300
August 5.157 3.21 1.719 1.070
September 2.448 3.15 .816 1.050
October 2.258 2.42 .753 .807
November .398 1.78 .132 .593
December .682 1.77 .227 .590
Total 24.682 31.65

While Shantung receives less than 25 inches of rain during the year, against Wisconsin’s more than 31 inches, the rainfall during June, July and August in Shantung is nearly 14.5 inches, while Wisconsin receives but 11.2 inches. This greater summer rainfall, with persistent fertilization and intense management, in a warm latitude, are some of the elements permitting Shantung today to feed 38,247,900 people from an area equal to that upon which Wisconsin is yet feeding but 2,333,860. Must American agriculture ultimately feed sixteen people where it is now feeding but one? If so, correspondingly more intense and effective practices must follow, and we can neither know too well nor too early what these Old World people have been driven to do; how they have succeeded, and how we and they may improve upon their practices and lighten the human burdens by more fully utilizing physical forces and mechanical appliances.

As we passed on to other fields we found a mother and daughter transplanting sweet potatoes on carefully fitted ridges of nearly air-dry soil in a little field, the remnant of a table on a deeply eroded hillside, Fig. 124. The husband was bringing water for moistening the soil from a deep ravine a quarter of a mile distant, carrying it on his shoulder in two buckets, Fig. 125, across an intervening gulch. He had excavated four holes at intervals up the gulch and from these, with a broken gourd dipper mended with stitches, he filled his pails, bailing in succession from one to the other in regular rotation.

The daughter was transplanting. Holding the slip with its tip between thumb and fingers, a strong forward stroke plowed a furrow in the mellow, dry soil; then, with a backward movement and a downward thrust, planted the slip, firmed the soil about it, leaving a depression in which the mother poured about a pint of water from another gourd dipper. After this water had soaked away, dry earth was drawn about the slip and firmed and looser earth drawn over this, the only tools being the naked hands and dipper.

The father and mother were dressed in coarse garb but the daughter was neatly clad, with delicate hands decorated with rings and a bracelet. Neither of the women had bound feet. There were ten in his family; and on adjacent similar areas they had small patches of wheat nearly ready for the harvest, all planted in hills, hoed, and in astonishingly vigorous condition considering the extreme drought which prevailed. The potatoes were being planted under these extreme conditions in anticipation of the rainy season which then was fully due. The summer before had been one of unusual drought, and famine was threatened. The government had recently issued an edict that no sheep should be sold from the province, fearing they might be needed for food. An old woman in one of the villages came out, as we walked through, and inquired of my interpreter if we had come to make it rain. Such was the stress under which we found these people.

One of the large farmers, owning ten acres, stated that his usual yield of wheat in good season was 160 catty per mow, equivalent to 21.3 bushels per acre. He was expecting the current season not more than one half this amount. As a fertilizer he used a prepared earth compost which we shall describe later, mixing it with the grain and sowing in the hills with the seed, applying about 5333 pounds per acre, which he valued, in our currency, at $8.60, or $3.22 per ton. A pile of such prepared compost is seen in Fig. 126, ready to be transferred to the field. The views show with what cleanliness the yard is kept and with what care all animal waste is saved. The cow and donkey are the work team, such as was being used by the plowman referred to in Fig. 122. The mounds in the background of the lower view are graves; the fence behind the animals is made from the stems of the large millet, kaoliang, while that at the right of the donkey is made of earth, both indicative of the scarcity of lumber. The buildings, too, are thatched and their walls are of earth plastered with an earthen mortar worked up with chaff.

In another field a man plowing and fertilizing for sweet potatoes had brought to the field and laid down in piles the finely pulverized dry compost. The father was plowing; his son of sixteen years was following and scattering, from a basket, the pulverized dry compost in the bottom of the furrow. The next furrow covered the fertilizer, four turned together forming a ridge upon which the potatoes were to be planted after a second and older son had smoothed and fitted the crest with a heavy hand rake. The fertilizer was thus applied directly beneath the row, at the rate of 7400 pounds per acre, valued at $7.15, our currency, or $1.93 per ton.

We were astonished at the moist condition of the soil turned, which was such as to pack in the hand notwithstanding the extreme drought prevailing and the fact that standing water in the ground was more than eight feet below the surface. The field had been without crop and cultivated. To the question, “What yield of sweet potatoes do you expect from this piece of land?” he replied, “About 4000 catty,” which is 440 bushels of 56 pounds per acre. The usual market price was stated to be $1.00, Mexican, per one hundred catty, making the gross value of the crop $79.49, gold, per acre. His land was valued at $60, Mexican, per mow, or $154.80 per acre, gold.

My interpreter informed me that the average well-to-do farmers in this part of Shantung own from fifteen to twenty mow of land and this amount is quite ample to provide for eight people. Such farmers usually keep two cows, two donkeys and eight or ten pigs. The less well-to-do or small farmers own two to five mow and act as superintendents for the larger farmers. Taking the largest holding, of twenty mow per family of eight people, as a basis, the density per square mile would be 1536 people, and an area of farm land equal to the state of Wisconsin would have 86,000,000 people; 21,500,000 cows; 21,500,000 donkeys and 86,000,000 swine. These observations apply to one of the most productive sections of the province, but very large areas of land in the province are not cultivable and the last census showed the total population nearly one-half of this amount. It is clear, therefore, that either very effective agricultural methods are practiced or else extreme economy is exercised. Both are true.

On this day in the fields our interpreter procured his dinner at a farm house, bringing us four boiled eggs, for which he paid at the rate of 8.3 cents of our money, but his dinner was probably included in the price. The next table gives the prices for some articles obtained by inquiry at the Tsingtao market, May 23rd, 1909, reduced to our currency.

Old potatoes, per lb 2.18
New potatoes, per lb 2.87
Salted turnip, per lb .86
Onions, per lb 4.10
Radishes, bunch of 10 1.29
String beans, per lb 11.46
Cucumbers, per lb 5.78
Pears, per lb 5.73
Apricots, per lb 8.60
Pork, fresh, per lb 10.33
Fish, per lb 5.73
Eggs, per dozen 5.16

The only items which are low compared with our own prices are salted turnips, radishes and eggs. Most of the articles listed were out of season for the locality and were imported for the foreigners, turnips, radishes, pork, fish and eggs being the exceptions. Prof. Ross informs us that he found eggs selling in Shensi at four for one cent of our money.

Our interpreter asked a compensation of one dollar, Mexican, or 43 cents, U. S. currency, per day, he furnishing his own meals. The usual wage for farm labor here was $8.60, per year, with board and lodging. We have referred to the wages paid by missionaries for domestic service. As servants the Chinese are considered efficient, faithful and trustworthy. It was the custom of Mr. and Mrs. League to intrust them with the purse for marketing, feeling that they could be depended upon for the closest bargaining. Commonly, when instructed to procure a certain article, if they found the price one or two cash higher than usual they would select a cheaper substitute. If questioned as to why instructions were not followed the reply would be “Too high, no can afford.”

Mrs. League recited her experience with her cook regarding his use of our kitchen appliances. After fitting the kitchen with a modern range and cooking utensils, and working with him to familiarize him with their use, she was surprised, on going into the kitchen a few days later, to find that the old Chinese stove had been set on the range and the cooking being done with the usual Chinese furniture. When asked why he was not using the stove his reply was “Take too much fire.” Nothing jars on the nerves of these people more than incurring of needless expense, extravagance in any form, or poor judgment in making purchases.

Daily we became more and more impressed by the evidence of the intense and incessant stress imposed by the dense populations of centuries, and how, under it, the laws of heredity have wrought upon the people, affecting constitution, habits and character. Even the cattle and sheep have not escaped its irresistible power. Many times in this province we saw men herding flocks of twenty to thirty sheep along the narrow unfenced pathways winding through the fields, and on the grave lands. The prevailing drought had left very little green to be had from these places and yet sheep were literally brushing their sides against fresh green wheat and barley, never molesting them. Time and again the flocks were stampeded into the grain by an approaching train, but immediately they returned to their places without taking a nibble. The voice of the shepherd and an occasional well aimed lump of earth only being required to bring them back to their uninviting pastures.

In Kiangsu and Chekiang provinces a line of half a dozen white goats were often seen feeding single file along the pathways, held by a cord like a string of beads, sometimes led by a child. Here, too, one of the most common sights was the water buffalo grazing unattended among the fields along the paths and canal banks, with crops all about, One of the most memorable shocks came to us in Chekiang, China, when we had fallen into a revery while gazing at the shifting landscape from the doorway of our low-down Chinese houseboat. Something in the sky and the vegetation along the canal bank had recalled the scenes of boyhood days and it seemed, as we looked aslant up the bank with its fringe of grass, that we were gliding along Whitewater creek through familiar meadows and that standing up would bring the old home in sight. That instant there glided into view, framed in the doorway and projected high against the tinted sky above the setting sun, a giant water buffalo standing motionless as a statue on the summit of a huge grave mound, lifted fully ten feet above the field. But in a flash this was replaced by a companion scene, and with all its beautiful setting, which had been as suddenly fixed on the memory fourteen years before in the far away Trossachs when our coach, hurriedly rounding a sharp turn in the hills, suddenly exposed a wild ox of Scotland similarly thrust against the sky from a small but isolated rocky summit, and then, outspeeding the wireless, recollection crossed two oceans and an intervening continent, bringing us back to China before a speed of five miles, per hour could move the first picture across the narrow doorway.

It was through the fields about Tsangkow that the stalwart freighters referred to, Fig. 32, passed us on one of the paths leading from Kiaochow through unnumbered country villages, already eleven miles on their way with their wheelbarrows loaded with matches made in Japan. Many of the wheelbarrow men seen in Shanghai and other cities are from Shantung families, away for employment, expecting to return. During the harvest season, too, many of these people go west and north into Manchuria seeking employment, returning to their homes in winter. Alexander Hosie, in his book on Manchuria, states that from Chefoo alone more than 20,000 Chinese laborers cross to Newchwang every spring by steamer, others finding their way there by junks or other means, so that after the harvest season 8,000 more return by steamer to Chefoo than left that way in the spring, from which he concludes that Shantung annually supplies Manchuria with agricultural labor to the extent of 30,000 men.

About the average condition of wheat in Shantung during this dry season, and nearing maturity, is seen in Fig. 127, standing rather more than three feet high, as indicated by our umbrella between the rows. Beyond the wheat and to the right, grave mounds serrate the sky line, no hills being in sight, for we were in the broad plain built up from the sea between the two mountain islands forming the highlands of Shantung.

On May 22nd we were in the fields north of Kiaochow, some sixty miles by rail west from Tsingtao, but within the neutral zone extending thirty miles back from the high water line of the bay of the same name. Here the Germans had built a broad macadam road after the best European type but over it were passing the vehicles of forty centuries seen in Figs. 128 and 129. It is doubtful if the resistance to travel experienced by these men on the better road was enough less than that on the old paths they had left to convince them that the cost of construction and maintenance would be worth while until vehicles and the price of labor change. It may appear strange that with a nation of so many millions and with so long a history, roads have persisted as little more than beaten foot-paths; but modern methods of transportation have remained physical impossibilities to every people until the science of the last century opened the way. Throughout their history the burdens of these people have been carried largely on foot, mostly on the feet of men, and of single men wherever the load could be advantageously divided. Animals have been supplemental burden bearers but, as with the men, they have carried the load directly on their own feet, the mode least disturbed by inequalities of road surface.

For adaptability to the worst road conditions no vehicle equals the wheelbarrow, progressing by one wheel and two feet. No vehicle is used more in China, if the carrying pole is excepted, and no wheelbarrow in the world permits so high an efficiency of human power as the Chinese, as must be clear from Figs. 32 and 61, where nearly the whole load is balanced on the axle of a high, massive wheel with broad tire. A shoulder band from the handles of the barrow relieves the strain on the hands and, when the load or the road is heavy, men or animals may aid in drawing, or even, when the wind is favorable, it is not unusual to hoist a sail to gain propelling power. It is only in northern China, and then in the more level portions, where there are few or no canals, that carts have been extensively used, but are more difficult to manage on bad roads. Most of the heavy carts, especially those in Manchuria, seen in Fig. 203, have the wheels framed rigidly to the axle which revolves with them, the bearing being in the bed of the cart. But new carts of modern type are being introduced.

In the extent of development and utilization of inland waterways no people have approached the Chinese. In the matter of land transportation they have clearly followed the line of least resistance for individual initiative, so characteristic of industrial China.

There are Government courier or postal roads which connect Peking with the most distant parts of the Empire, some twenty-one being usually enumerated. These, as far as practicable, take the shortest course, are often cut into the mountain sides and even pass through tunnels. In the plains regions these roads may be sixty to seventy-five feet wide, paved and occasionally bordered by rows of trees. In some cases, too, signal towers are erected at intervals of three miles and there are inns along the way, relay posts and stations for soldiers.

We have spoken of planting grain in rows and in hills in the row. In Fig. 130 is a field with the rows planted in pairs, the members being 16 inches apart, and together occupying 30 inches. The space between each pair is also 30 inches, making five feet in all. This makes frequent hoeing practicable, which is begun early in the spring and is repeated after every rain. It also makes it possible to feed the plants when they can utilize food to the best advantage and to repeat the feeding if desirable. Besides, the ground in the wider space may be fitted, fertilized and another crop planted before the first is removed. The hills alternate in the rows and are 24 to 26 inches from center to center.

The planting may be done by hand or with a drill such as that in Fig. 131, ingenious in the simple mechanism which permits planting in hills. The husbandman had just returned from the field with the drill on his shoulder when we met at the door of his village home, where he explained to us the construction and operation of the drill and permitted the photograph to be taken, but turning his face aside, not wishing to represent a specific character, in the view. In the drill there was a heavy leaden weight swinging free from a point above the space between the openings leading to the respective drill feet. When planting, the operator rocks the drill from side to side, causing the weight to hang first over one and then over the other opening, thus securing alternation of hills in each pair of rows.

Counting the heads of wheat in the hill in a number of fields showed them ranging between 20 and 100, the distance between the rows and between the hills as stated above. There were always a larger number of stalks per hill where the water capacity of the soil was large, where the ground water was near the surface, and where the soil was evidently of good quality. This may have been partly the result of stooling but we have little doubt that judgment was exercised in planting, sowing less seed on the lighter soils where less moisture was available. In the piece just referred to, in the illustration, an average hill contained 46 stalks and the number of kernels in a head varied between 20 and 30. Taking Richardson’s estimate of 12,000 kernels of wheat to the pound, this field would yield about twelve bushels of wheat per acre this unusually dry season. Our interpreter, whose parents lived near Kaomi, four stations further west, stated that in 1901, one of their best seasons, farmers there secured yields as high as 875 catty per legal mow, which is at the rate of 116 bushels per acre. Such a yield on small areas highly fertilized and carefully tilled, when the rainfall is ample or where irrigation is practiced, is quite possible and in the Kiangsu province we observed individual small fields which would certainly approach close to this figure.

Further along in our journey of the day we came upon a field where three, one of them a boy of fourteen years, were hoeing and thinning millet and maize. In China, during the hot weather, the only garment worn by the men in the field, was their trousers, and the boy had found these unnecessary, although he slipped into them while we were talking with his father. The usual yield of maize was set at 420 to 480 catty per mow, and that of millet at 600 catty, or 60 to 68.5 bushels of maize and 96 bushels of millet, of fifty pounds, per acre, and the usual price would make the gross earnings $23.48 to $26.83 per acre for the maize, and $30.96, gold, for the millet.

It was evident when walking through these fields that the fall-sowed grain was standing the drought far better than the barley planted in the spring, quite likely because of the deeper and stronger development of root system made possible by the longer period of growth, and partly because the wheat had made much of its growth utilizing water that had fallen before the barley was planted and which would have been lost from the soil through percolation and surface evaporation. Farmers here are very particular to hoe their grain, beginning in the early spring, and always after rains, thoroughly appreciating the efficiency of earth mulches. Their hoe, seen in Fig. 132, is peculiarly well adapted to its purpose, the broad blade being so hung that it draws nearly parallel with the surface, cutting shallow and permitting the soil to drop practically upon the place from which it was loosened. These hoes are made in three parts; a wooden handle, a long, strong and heavy iron socket shank, and a blade of steel. The blade is detachable and different forms and sizes of blades may be used on the same shank. The mulch-producing blades may have a cutting edge thirteen inches long and a width of nine inches.

At short intervals on either hand, along the two hundred and fifty miles of railway between Tsingtao and Tsinan, were observed many piles of earth compost distributed in the fields. One of these piles is seen in Fig. 133. They were sometimes on unplanted fields, in other cases they occurred among the growing crops soon to be harvested, or where another crop was to be planted between the rows of one already on the ground. Some of these piles were six feet high. All were built in cubical form with flat top and carefully plastered with a layer of earth mortar which sometimes cracked on drying, as seen in the illustration. The purpose of this careful shaping and plastering we did not learn although our interpreter stated it was to prevent the compost from being appropriated for use on adjacent fields. Such a finish would have the effect of a seal, showing if the pile had been disturbed, but we suspect other advantages are sought by the treatment, which involves so large an amount of labor.

The amount of this earth compost prepared and used annually in Shantung is large, as indicated by the cases cited, where more than five thousand pounds, in one instance, and seven thousand pounds in another, were applied per acre for one crop. When two or more crops are grown the same year on the same ground, each is fertilized, hence from three to six or more tons may be applied to each cultivated acre. The methods of preparing compost and of fertilizing in Kiangsu, Chekiang and Kwangtung provinces have been described. In this part of Shantung, in Chihli and north in Manchuria as far as Mukden, the methods are materially different and if possible even more laborious, but clearly rational and effective. Here nearly if not all fertilizer compost is prepared in the villages and carried to the fields, however distant these may be.

Rev. T. J. League very kindly accompanied us to Chengyang on the railway, from which we walked some two miles, back to a prosperous rural village to see their methods of preparing this compost fertilizer. It was toward the close of the afternoon before we reached the village, and from all directions husbandmen were returning from the fields, some with hoes, some with plows, some with drills over their shoulders and others leading donkeys or cattle, and similar customs obtain in Japan, as seen in Fig. 134. These were mostly the younger men. When we reached the village streets the older men, all bareheaded, as were those returning from the fields, and usually with their queues tied about the crown, were visiting, enjoying their pipes of tobacco.

Opium is no longer used openly in China, unless it be permitted to some well along in years with the habit confirmed, and the growing of the poppy is prohibited. The penalties for violating the law are heavy and enforcement is said to be rigid and effective. For the first violation a fine is imposed. If convicted of a second violation the fine is heavier with imprisonment added to help the victim acquire self control, and a third conviction may bring the death penalty. The eradication of the opium scourge must prove a great blessing to China. But with the passing of this most formidable evil, for whose infliction upon China England was largely responsible, it is a great misfortune that through the pitiless efforts of the British-American Tobacco Company her people are rapidly becoming addicted to the western tobacco habit, selfish beyond excuse, filthy beyond measure, and unsanitary in its polluting and oxygen-destroying effect upon the air all are compelled to breathe. It has already become a greater and more inexcusable burden upon mankind than opium ever was.

China, with her already overtaxed fields, can ill afford to give over an acre to the cultivation of this crop and she should prohibit the growing of tobacco as she has that of the poppy. Let her take the wise step now when she readily may, for all civilized nations will ultimately be compelled to adopt such a measure. The United States in 1902 had more than a million acres growing tobacco, and harvested 821,000,000 pounds of leaf. This leaf depleted those soils to the extent of more than twenty eight million pounds of nitrogen, twenty-nine million pounds of potassium and nearly two and a half million pounds of phosphorus, all so irrecoverably lost that even China, with her remarkable skill in saving and her infinite patience with little things, could not recover them for her soils. On a like area of field might as readily be grown twenty million bushels of wheat and if the twelve hundred million pounds of grain were all exported it would deplete the soil less than the tobacco crop in everything but phosphorus, and in this about the same. Used at home, China would return it all to one or another field. The home consumption of tobacco in the United States averaged seven pounds per capita in 1902. A like consumption for China’s four hundred millions would call for 2800 million pounds of leaf. If she grew it on her fields two million acres would not suffice. Her soils would be proportionately depleted and she would be short forty million bushels of wheat; but if China continues to import her tobacco the vast sum expended can neither fertilize her fields nor feed, clothe or educate her people, yet a like sum expended in the importation of wheat would feed her hungry and enrich her soils.

In the matter of conservation of national resources here is one of the greatest opportunities open to all civilized nations. What might not be done in the United States with a fund of $57,000,000 annually, the market price of the raw tobacco leaf, and the land, the labor and the capital expended in getting the product to the men who puff, breathe and perspire the noxious product into the air everyone must breathe, and who bespatter the streets, sidewalks, the floor of every public place and conveyance, and befoul the million spittoons, smoking rooms and smoking cars, all unnecessary and should be uncalled for, but whose installation and up-keep the non-user as well as the user is forced to pay, and this in a country of, for and by the people. This costly, filthy, selfish tobacco habit should be outgrown. Let it begin in every new home, where the mother helps the father in refusing to set the example, and let its indulgence be absolutely prohibited to everyone while in public school and to all in educational institutions.

Mr. League had been given a letter of introduction to one of the leading farmers of the village and it chanced that as we reached the entrance way to big home we were met by his son, just returning from the fields with his drill on his shoulder, and it is he standing in the illustration, Fig. 131, holding the letter of introduction in his hand. After we had taken this photograph and another one looking down the narrow street from the same point, we were led to the small open court of the home, perhaps forty by eighty feet, upon which all doors of the one-storied structures opened. It was dry and bare of everything green, but a row of very tall handsome trees, close relatives of our cottonwood, with trunks thirty feet to the limbs, looked down into the court over the roofs of the low thatched houses. Here we met the father and grandfather of the man with the drill, so that, with the boy carrying the baby in his arms, who had met his father in the street gateway, there were four generations of males at our conference. There were women and girls in the household but custom requires them to remain in retirement on such occasions.

A low narrow four-legged bench, not unlike our carpenter’s sawhorse, five feet long, was brought into the court as a seat, which our host and we occupied in common. We had been similarly received at the home of Mrs. Wu in Chekiang province. On our right was the open doorway to the kitchen in which stood, erect and straight, the tall spare figure of the patriarch of the household, his eyes still shining black but with hair and long thin straggling beard a uniform dull ashen gray. No Chinese hair, it seems, ever becomes white with age. He seemed to have assumed the duties of cook for while we were there be lighted the fire in the kitchen and was busy, but was always the final oracle on any matter of difference of opinion between the younger men regarding answers to questions. Two sleeping apartments adjoining the kitchen, through whose wide kang beds the waste heat from the cooking was conveyed, as described on page 142, completed this side of the court. On our left was the main street completely shut off by a solid earth wall as high as the eaves of the house, while in front of us, adjoining the street, was the manure midden, a compost pit six feet deep and some eight feet square. A low opening in the street wall permitted the pit to be emptied and to receive earth and stubble or refuse from the fields for composting, Against the pit and without partition, but cut off from the court, was the home of the pigs, both under a common roof continuous with a closed structure joining with the sleeping apartments, while behind us and along the alley-way by which we had entered were other dwelling and storage compartments. Thus was the large family of four generations provided with a peculiarly private open court where they could work and come out for sun and air, both, from our standards, too meagerly provided in the houses.

We had come to learn more of the methods of fertilizing practiced by these people. The manure midden was before us and the piles of earth brought in from the fields, for use in the process, were stacked in the street, where we had photographed them at the entrance, as seen in Fig. 135. There a father, with his pipe, and two boys stand at the extreme left; beyond them is a large pile of earth brought into the village and carefully stacked in the narrow street; on the other side of the street, at the corner of the first building, is a pile of partly fermented compost thrown from a pit behind the walls. Further along in the street, on the same side, is a second large stack of soil where two boys are standing at either end and another little boy was in a near-by doorway. In front of the tree, on the left side of the street, stands a third boy, near him a small donkey and still another boy. Beyond this boy stands a third large stack of soil, while still beyond and across the way is another pile partly composted. Notwithstanding the cattle in the preceding illustration, the donkey, the men, the boys, the three long high stacks of soil and the two piles of compost, the ten rods of narrow street possessed a width of available travelway and a cleanliness which would appear impossible. Each farmer’s household had its stack of soil in the street, and in walking through the village we passed dozens of men turning and mixing the soil and compost, preparing it for the field.

The compost pit in front of where we sat was two-thirds filled. In it had been placed all of the manure and waste of the household and street, all stubble and waste roughage from the field, all ashes not to be applied directly and some of the soil stacked in the street. Sufficient water was added at intervals to keep the contents completely saturated and nearly submerged, the object being to control the character of fermentation taking place.

The capacity of these compost pits is determined by the amount of land served, and the period of composting is made as long as possible, the aim being to have the fiber of all organic material completely broken down, the result being a product of the consistency of mortar.

When it is near the time for applying the compost to the field, or of feeding it to the crop, the fermented product is removed in waterproof carrying baskets to the floor of the court, to the yard, such as seen in Fig. 126, or to the street, where it is spread to dry, to be mixed with fresh soil, more ashes, and repeatedly turned and stirred to bring about complete aeration and to hasten the processes of nitrification. During all of these treatments, whether in the compost pit or on the nitrification floor, the fermenting organic matter in contact with the soil is converting plant food elements into soluble plant food substances in the form of potassium, calcium and magnesium nitrates and soluble phosphates of one or another form, perhaps of the same bases and possibly others of organic type. If there is time and favorable temperature and moisture conditions for these fermentations to take place in the soil of the field before the crop will need it, the compost may be carried direct from the pit to the field and spread broadcast, to be plowed under. Otherwise the material is worked and reworked, with more water added if necessary, until it becomes a rich complete fertilizer, allowed to become dry and then finely pulverized, sometimes using stone rollers drawn over it by cattle, the donkey or by hand. The large numbers of stacks of compost seen in the fields between Tsingtao and Tsinan were of this type and thus laboriously prepared in the villages and then transported to the fields, stacked and plastered to be ready for use at next planting.

In the early days of European history, before modern chemistry had provided the cheaper and more expeditious method of producing potassium nitrate for the manufacture of gunpowder and fireworks, much land and effort were devoted to niter-farming which was no other than a specific application of this most ancient Chinese practice and probably imported from China. While it was not until 1877 to 1879 that men of science came to know that the processes of nitrification, so indispensable to agriculture, are due to germ life, in simple justice to the plain farmers of the world, to those who through all the ages from Adam down, living close to Nature and working through her and with her, have fed the world, it should be recognized that there have been those among them who have grasped such essential, vital truths and have kept them alive in the practices of their day. And so we find it recorded in history as far back as 1686 that Judge Samuel Lewell copied upon the cover of his journal a practical man’s recipe for making saltpeter beds, in which it was directed, among other things, that there should be added to it “mother of petre”, meaning, in Judge Lewell’s understanding, simply soil from an old niter bed, but in the mind of the man who applied the maternity prefix,—mother,—it must have meant a vital germ contained in the soil, carried with it, capable of reproducing its kind and of perpetuating its characteristic work, belonging to the same category with the old, familiar, homely germ, “mother” of vinegar. So, too, with the old cheesemaker who grasped the conception which led to the long time practice of washing the walls of a new cheese factory with water from an old factory of the same type, he must have been led by analogies of experience with things seen to realize that he was here dealing with a vital factor. Hundreds, of course, have practiced empyrically, but some one preceded with the essential thought and we feel it is small credit to men of our time who, after ten or twenty years of technical training, having their attention directed to a something to be seen, and armed with compound microscopes which permit them to see with the physical eye the “mother of petre”, arrogate to themselves the discovery of a great truth. Much more modest would it be and much more in the spirit of giving credit where credit is due to admit that, after long doubting the existence of such an entity, we have succeeded in confirming in fullness the truth of a great discovery which belongs to an unnamed genius of the past, or perhaps to a hundred of them who, working with life’s processes and familiar with them through long intimate association, saw in these invisible processes analogies that revealed to them the essential truth in such fullness as to enable them to build upon it an unfailing practice.

There is another practice followed by the Chinese, connected with the formation of nitrates in soils, which again emphasizes the national trait of saving and turning to use any and every thing worth while. Our attention was called to this practice by Rev. A. E. Evans of Shunking, Szechwan province. It rests upon the tendency of the earth floors of dwellings to become heavily charged with calcium nitrate through the natural processes of nitrification. Calcium nitrate being deliquescent absorbs moisture sufficiently to dissolve and make the floor wet and sticky. Dr. Evans’ attention was drawn to the wet floor in his own house, which be at first ascribed to insufficient ventilation, but which be was unable to remedy by improving that. The father of one of his assistants, whose business consisted in purchasing the soil of such floors for producing potassium nitrate, used so much in China in the manufacture of fireworks and gunpowder, explained his difficulty and suggested the remedy.

This man goes from house to house through the village, purchasing the soil of floors which have thus become overcharged. He procures a sample, tests it and announces what he will pay for the surface two, three or four inches, the price sometimes being as high as fifty cents for the privilege of removing the top layer of the floor, which the proprietors must replace. He leaches the soil removed, to recover the calcium nitrate, and then pours the leachings through plant ashes containing potassium carbonate, for the purpose of transforming the calcium nitrate into the potassium nitrate or saltpeter. Dr. Evans learned that during the four months preceding our interview this man had produced sufficient potassium nitrate to bring his sales up to $80, Mexican. It was necessary for him to make a two-days journey to market his product. In addition he paid a license fee of 80 cents per month. He must purchase his fuel ashes and hire the services of two men.

When the nitrates which accumulate in the floors of dwellings are not collected for this purpose the soil goes to the fields to be used directly as a fertilizer, or it may be worked into compost. In the course of time the earth used in the village walls and even in the construction of the houses may disintegrate so as to require removal, but in all such cases, as with the earth brick used in the kangs, the value of the soil has improved for composting and is generally so used. This improvement of the soil will not appear strange when it is stated that such materials are usually from the subsoil, whose physical condition would improve when exposed to the weather, converting it in fact into an uncropped virgin soil.

We were unable to secure definite data as to the chemical composition of these composts and cannot say what amounts of available plant food the Shantung farmers are annually returning to their fields. There can be little doubt, however, that the amounts are quite equal to those removed by the crops. The soils appeared well supplied with organic matter and the color of the foliage and the general aspect of crops indicated good feeding.

The family with whom we talked in the village place their usual yields of wheat at 420 catty of grain and 1000 catty of straw per mow,—their mow was four-thirds of the legal standard mow—the grain being worth 35 strings of cash and the straw 12 to 14 strings, a string of cash being 40 cents, Mexican, at this time. Their yields of beans were such as to give them a return of 30 strings of cash for the grain and 8 to 10 strings for the straw. Small millet usually yielded 450 catty of grain, worth 25 strings of cash, per mow, and 800 catty of straw worth 10 to 11 strings of cash; while the yields of large millet they placed at 400 catty per mow, worth 25 strings of cash, and 1000 catty of straw worth 12 to 14 strings of cash. Stating these amounts in bushels per acre and in our currency, the yield of wheat was 42 bushels of grain and 6000 pounds of straw per acre, having a cash value of $27.09 for the grain and $10.06 for the straw. The soy bean crop follows the wheat, giving an additional return of $23.22 for the beans and $6.97 for the straw, making the gross earning for the two crops $67.34 per acre. The yield of small millet was 54 bushels of seed and 4800 pounds of straw per acre, worth $27.09 and $8.12 for seed and straw respectively, while the kaoliang or large millet gave a yield of 48 bushels of grain and 6000 pounds of stalks per acre, worth $19.35 for the grain, and $10.06 for the straw.

A crop of wheat like the one stated, if no part of the plant food contained in the grain or straw were returned to the field, would deplete the soil to the extent of about 90 pounds of nitrogen, 15 pounds of phosphorus and 65 pounds of potassium; and the crop of soy beans, if it also were entirely removed, would reduce these three plant food elements in the soil to the extent of about 240 pounds of nitrogen, 33 pounds of phosphorus and 102 pounds of potassium, on the basis of 45 bushels of beans and 5400 pounds of stems and leaves per acre, assuming that the beans added no nitrogen to the soil, which is of course not true. This household of farmers, therefore, in order to have maintained this producing power in their soil, have been compelled to return to it annually, in one form or another, not less than 48 pounds of phosphorus and 167 pounds of potassium per acre. The 330 pounds of nitrogen they would have to return in the form of organic matter or accumulate it from the atmosphere, through the instrumentality of their soy bean crop or some other legume. It has already been stated that they do add more than 5000 to 7000 pounds of dry compost, which, repeated for a second crop, would make an annual application of five to seven tons of dry compost per acre annually. They do use, in addition to this compost, large amounts of bean and peanut cake, which carry all of the plant food elements derived from the soil which are contained in the beans and the peanuts. If the vines are fed, or if the stems of the beaus are burned for fuel, most of the plant food elements in these will be returned to the field, and they have doubtless learned how to completely restore the plant food elements removed by their crops, and persistently do so.

The roads made by the Germans in the vicinity of Tsingtao enabled us to travel by ricksha into the adjoining country, and on one such trip we visited a village mill for grinding soy beans and peanuts in the manufacture of oil, and Fig. 136 shows the stone roller, four feet in diameter and two feet thick, which is revolved about a vertical axis on a circular stone plate, drawn by a donkey, crushing the kernels partly by its weight and partly by a twisting motion, for the arm upon which the roller revolves is very short. After the meal had been ground the oil was expressed in essentially the same way as that described for the cotton seed, but the bean and peanut cakes are made much larger than the cotton seed cakes, about eighteen inches in diameter and three to four inches thick. Two of these cakes are seen in Fig. 137, standing on edge outside the mill in an orderly clean court. It is in this form that bean cake is exported in large quantities to different parts of China, and to Japan in recent years, for use as fertilizer, and very recently it is being shipped to Europe for both stock food and fertilizer.

Nowhere in this province, nor further north, did we see the large terra cotta, receptacles so extensively used in the south for storing human excreta. In these dryer climates some method of desiccation is practiced and we found the gardeners in the vicinity of Tsingtao with quantities of the fertilizer stacked under matting shelters in the desiccated condition, this being finely pulverized in one or another way before it was applied. The next illustration, Fig. 138, shows one of these piles being fitted for the garden, its thatched shelter standing behind the grandfather of a household. His grandson was carrying the prepared fertilizer to the garden area seen in Fig. 139, where the father was working it into the soil. The greatest pains is taken, both in reducing the product to a fine powder and in spreading and incorporating it with the soil, for one of their maxims of soil management is to make each square foot of field or garden the equal of every other in its power to produce. In this manner each little holding is made to yield the highest returns possible under the conditions the husbandman is able to control.

From one portion of the area being fitted, a crop of artemisia had been harvested, giving a gross return at the rate of $73.19 per acre, and from another leeks had been taken, bringing a gross return of $43.86 per acre. Chinese celery was the crop for which the ground was being fitted.

The application of soil as a fertilizer to the fields of China, whether derived from the subsoil or from the silts and organic matter of canals and rivers, must have played an important part in the permanency of agriculture in the Far East, for all such additions have been positive accretions to the effective soil, increasing its depth and carrying to it all plant food elements. If not more than one-half of the weight of compost applied to the fields of Shantung is highly fertilized soil, the rates of application observed would, in a thousand years, add more than two million pounds per acre, and this represents about the volume of soil we turn with the plow in our ordinary tillage operations, and this amount of good soil may carry more than 6000 pounds of nitrogen, 2000 pounds of phosphorus and more than 60,000 pounds of potassium.

When we left our hotel by ricksha for the steamer, returning to Shanghai, we soon observed a boy of thirteen or fourteen years apparently following, sometimes a little ahead, sometimes behind, usually keeping the sidewalk but slackening his pace whenever the ricksha man came to a walk. It was a full mile to the wharf. The boy evidently knew the sailing schedule and judged by the valise in front, that we were to take the out-going steamer and that he might possibly earn two cents, Mexican, the usual fee for taking a valise aboard the steamer. Twenty men at the wharf might be waiting for the job, but he was taking the chance with the mile down and back thrown in, and all for less than one cent in our currency, equivalent at the time to about twenty “cash”. As we neared the steamer the lad closed up behind but strong and eager men were watching. Twice he was roughly thrust aside and before the ricksha stopped a man of stalwart frame seized the valise and, had we not observed the boy thus unobtrusively entering the competition, he would have had only his trouble for his pains. Thus intense was the struggle here for existence and thus did a mere lad put himself effectively into it. True to breeding and example he had spared no labor to win and was surprised but grateful to receive more than he had expected.



Time is a function of every life process, as it is of every physical, chemical and mental reaction, and the husbandman is compelled to shape his operations so as to conform with the time requirements of his crops. The oriental farmer is a time economizer beyond any other. He utilizes the first and last minute and all that are between. The foreigner accuses the Chinaman of being always “long on time”, never in a fret, never in a hurry. And why should he be when he leads time by the forelock, and uses all there is?

The customs and practices of these Farthest East people regarding their manufacture of fertilizers in the form of earth composts for their fields, and their use of altered subsoils which have served in their kangs, village walls and dwellings, are all instances where they profoundly shorten the time required in the field to affect the necessary chemical, physical and biological reactions which produce from them plant food substances. Not only do they thus increase their time assets, but they add, in effect, to their land area by producing these changes outside their fields, at the same time giving their crops the immediately active soil products.

Their compost practices have been of the greatest consequence to them, both in their extremely wet, rice-culture methods, and in their “dry-farming” practices, where the soil moisture is too scanty during long periods to permit rapid fermentation under field conditions. Western agriculturalists have not sufficiently appreciated the fact that the most rapid growth of plant food substances in the soil cannot occur at the same time and place with the most rapid crop increase, because both processes draw upon the available soil moisture, soil air and soluble potassium, calcium, phosphorus and nitrogen compounds. Whether this fundamental principle of practical agriculture is written in their literature or not it is most indelibly fixed in their practice. If we and they can perpetuate the essentials of this practice at a large saving of human effort, or perpetually secure the final result in some more expeditious and less laborious way, most important progress will have been made.

When we went north to the Shantung province the Kiangsu and Chekiang farmers were engaged in another of their time saving practices, also involving a large amount of human labor. This was the planting of cotton in wheat fields before the wheat was quite ready to harvest. In the sections of these two provinces which we visited most of the wheat and barley were sowed broadcast on narrow raised lands, some five feet wide, with furrows between, after the manner seen in Fig. 140, showing a reservoir in the immediate foreground, on whose bank is installed one of the four-man foot-power irrigation pumps in use to flood the nursery rice bed close by on the right. The narrow lands of broadcasted wheat extend back from the reservoir toward the farmsteads which dot the landscape, and on the left stands one of the pump shelters near the canal bank.

To save time, or lengthen the growing season of the cotton which was to follow, this seed was sown broadcast among the grain on the surface, some ten to fifteen days before the wheat would be harvested. To cover the seed the soil in the furrows between the beds had been spaded loose to a depth of four or five inches, finely pulverized, and then with a spade was evenly scattered over the bed, letting it sift down among the grain, covering the seed. This loose earth, so applied, acts as a mulch to conserve the capillary moisture, permitting the soil to become sufficiently damp to germinate the seed before the wheat is harvested. The next illustration, Fig. 141, is a closer view with our interpreter standing in another field of wheat in which cotton was being sowed April 22nd in the manner described, and yet the stand of grain was very close and shoulder high, making it not an easy task either to sow the seed or to scatter sufficient soil to cover it.

When we had returned from Shantung this piece of grain had been harvested, giving a yield of 95.6 bushels of wheat and 3.5 tons of straw per acre, computed from the statement of the owner that 400 catty of grain and 500 catty of straw had been taken from the beds measuring 4050 square feet. On the morning of May 29th the photograph for Fig. 142 was taken, showing the same area after the wheat had been harvested and the cotton was up, the young plants showing slightly through the short stubble. These beds had already been once treated with liquid fertilizer. A little later the plants would be hoed and thinned to a stand of about one plant per each square foot of surface. There were thirty-seven days between the taking of the two photographs, and certainly thirty days had been added to the cotton crop by this method of planting, over what would have been available if the grain had been first harvested and the field fitted before planting, It will be observed that the cotton follows the wheat without plowing, but the soil was deep, naturally open, and a layer of nearly two inches of loose earth had been placed over the seed at the time of planting. Besides, the ground would be deeply worked with the two or four tined hoe, at the time of thinning.

Starting cotton in the wheat in the manner described is but a special case of a general practice widely in vogue. The growing of multiple crops is the rule throughout these countries wherever the climate permits. Sometimes as many as three crops occupy the same field in recurrent rows, but of different dates of planting and in different stages of maturity. Reference has been made to the overlapping and alternation of cucumbers with greens. The general practice of planting nearly all crops in rows lends itself readily to systems of multiple cropping, and these to the fullest possible utilization of every minute of the growing season and of the time of the family in caring for the crops. In the field, Fig. 143, a crop of winter wheat was nearing maturity, a crop of windsor beans was about two-thirds grown, and cotton had just been planted, April 22nd. This field had been thrown into ridges some five feet wide with a twelve inch furrow between them. Two rows of wheat eight inches wide, planted two feet between centers occupied the crest of the ridge, leaving a strip sixteen inches wide, seen in the upper section, (1) for tillage, (2) then fertilization and (3) finally the row of cotton planted just before the wheat was harvested. Against the furrow on each side was a row of windsor beans, seen in the lower view, hiding the furrow, which was matured some time after the wheat was harvested and before the cotton was very large. A late fall crop sometimes follows the windsor beans after a period of tillage and fertilization, making four in one year. With such a succession fertilization for each crop, and an abundance of soil moisture are required to give the largest returns from the soil.

In another plan winter wheat or barley may grow side by side with a green crop, such as the “Chinese clover” (Medicago denticulata, Willd.) for soil fertilizer, as was the case in Fig. 144, to be turned under and fertilize for a crop of cotton planted in rows on either side of a crop of barley. After the barley had been harvested the ground it occupied would be tilled and further fertilized, and when the cotton was nearing maturity a crop of rape might be grown, from which “salted cabbage” would be prepared for winter use.

Multiple crops are grown as far north in Chihli as Tientsin and Peking, these being oftenest wheat, maize, large and small millet and soy beans, and this, too, where the soil is less fertile and where the annual rainfall is only about twenty-five inches, the rainy season beginning in late June or early July, and Fig. 145 shows one of these fields as it appeared June 14th, where two rows of wheat and two of large millet were planted in alternating pairs, the rows being about twenty-eight inches apart. The wheat was ready to harvest but the straw was unusually short because growing on a light sandy loam in a season of exceptional drought, but little more than two inches of rain having fallen after January 1st of that year.

The piles of pulverized dry-earth compost seen between the rows had been brought for use on the ground occupied by the wheat when that was removed. The wheat would be pulled, tied in bundles, taken to the village and the roots cut off, for making compost, as in Fig. 146, which shows the family engaged in cutting the roots from the small bundles of wheat, using a long straight knife blade, fixed at one end, and thrust downward upon the bundle with lever pressure. These roots, if not used as fuel, would be transferred to the compost pit in the enclosure seen in Fig. 147, whose walls were built of earth brick. Here, with any other waste litter, manure or ashes, they would be permitted to decay under water until the fiber had been destroyed, thus permitting it to be incorporated with soil and applied to the fields, rich in soluble plant food and in a condition which would not interfere with the capillary movement of soil moisture, the work going on outside the field where the changes could occur unimpeded and without interfering with the growth of crops on the ground.

In this system of combined intertillage and multiple cropping the oriental farmer thus takes advantage of whatever good may result from rotation or succession of crops, whether these be physical, vito-chemical or biological. If plants are mutually helpful through close association of their root systems in the soil, as some believe may be the case, this growing of different species in close juxtaposition would seem to provide the opportunity, but the other advantages which have been pointed out are so evident and so important that they, rather than this, have doubtless led to the practice of growing different crops in close recurrent rows.



The basal food crop of the people of China, Korea and Japan is rice, and the mean consumption in Japan, for the five years ending 1906, per capita and per annum, was 302 pounds. Of Japan’s 175,428 square miles she devoted, in 1906, 12,856 to the rice crop. Her average yield of water rice on 12,534 square miles exceeded 33 bushels per acre, and the dry land rice averaged 18 bushels per acre on 321 square miles. In the Hokkaido, as far north as northern Illinois, Japan harvested 1,780,000 bushels of water rice from 53,000 acres.

In Szechwan province, China, Consul-General Hosie places the yield of water rice on the plains land at 44 bushels per acre, and that of the dry land rice at 22 bushels. Data given us in China show an average yield of 42 bushels of water rice per acre, while the average yield of wheat was 25 bushels per acre, the normal yield in Japan being about 17 bushels.

If the rice eaten per capita in China proper and Korea is equal to that in Japan the annual consumption for the three nations, using the round number 300 pounds per capita per annum, would be:

             Population. Consumption.
China 410,000,000 61,500,000 tons
Korea 12,000,000 1,800,000 tons
Japan 53,000,000 7,950 000 tons
Total 475,000,000 71,250,000 tons

If the ratio of irrigated to dry land rice in Korea and China proper is the same as that in Japan, and if the mean yield of rice per acre in these countries were forty bush