Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/112

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

again, the chemists came to the assistance of agriculture. Fertilizers could be analyzed, their component parts determined, and purchasers might learn how many pounds of plant food a ton of artificial manure contained. Nitrogen, potash, and phosphoric acid each had a commercial value per pound; consequently the chemist could easily determine in a fair manner the value of a ton of fertilizer.

In 1872, through the efforts of Dr. C. A. Goessmann, Professor of Chemistry in the Massachusetts Agricultural College, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a law appointing a State inspector of fertilizers, requiring that all fertilizer manufacturers making a fertilizer having a valuation of over twelve dollars a ton should print on a tag attached to the bag or barrel containing the same the percentage of nitrogen, potash, and phosphoric acid in the brand sold. Samples of all fertilizers selling for over twelve dollars per ton had first to be analyzed by the State chemist before they could be sold in the market; and this officer, designated "inspector," was authorized to sample and analyze any or all fertilizers sold in the State. This Massachusetts law was at first more or less imperfect, but it was later on amended and made eminently satisfactory to both the manufacturer and the consumer. Other States followed the example of Massachusetts, and to-day there is not a State in the Union handling fertilizers to any extent that has not upon its statute-books laws patterned to some degree after the Massachusetts idea, and as a result manufacturers can not with safety sell the farmers shoddy fertilizers. Now and then a fraudulent fertilizer appears, but its sale is quickly stopped by the chemist's exposure. Only a short time ago (the summer of 1890) two fertilizers were suddenly placed upon the Indiana market and sold for $27.50 and $22.50 per ton, respectively. These were analyzed by the State chemist, and the former was found to have a value of $5.76 and the latter of $4.44 per ton. These were out-and-out swindles; yet, had it not been for a prompt publication from the State Experiment Station at Purdue University as to their real character, many farmers of the State of Indiana would have been unmercifully swindled. In view of the fact that millions of dollars' worth of fertilizers are sold yearly in the United States, one can readily understand how great is the sum of money that is being yearly saved to the farmers of the country through the interposition of the chemist.

In the Eastern and more populous part of the United States, which has been long under cultivation, farm manures are more highly valued than in the newer regions of the country. For years investigators have advised that stable manure be handled economically. Chemists argued that, unless properly protected, these manures would lose much of their valuable properties,